Four Months After His Presidential Loss, Romney Snags New Job In Old Field

Over the summer, when we first began our recurring ‘Mitt Loves N.Y.’ series, it became increasingly evident that Mr. Romney’s campaign for the White House had gained its largest financial support from a familiar network of friends. Most of our profiles spotlighted those in the leveraged buyouts business; the industry of Bain Capital lore, one we know all too well from last year’s report by fellow Voice scribe Pete Kotz.

If the donations to Restore Our Future were any indication, these guys stick together. So it’s no surprise that Mr. Romney is rejoining the old pack.

Yesterday, NBC News reported that the ex-candidate is joining his son, Tagg, and Spencer Zwick, a chief adviser to the Romney campaign, as chairman on the executive committee of their new company, Solamere Capital. Their website describes the company as a “group formed by a group of influential business leaders to leverage their industry expertise to access and execute superior investments.” That has to be business jargon for something.

The story is the latest in a series of appearances made by a figure who went off the radar post-Election-Day. In December, he returned to Marriot International as a member of its board of directors. This was after he made yet another ’47 Percent’-related remark to his donors. And, over this past weekend, he made an appearance on Fox News, sitting down for an interview to discuss how he’s upset he’s not in the White House right now. “It’s hard,” he said.

But this new job should definitely cheer him up a bit.


Even After the Election, Mitt Revisits His ’47 Percent’ Mentality

It’s been over a week since the country (well, half of it at least) decided that Obama should have another shot at this whole being-President thing. We spent a few days philosophizing about what it meant for our country, then heard from the racists, then heard about Petraeus and, now, here we are. What a maelstrom of news it has been. Thanks Twitter.

Anyway, we haven’t heard much from Mitt Romney. When compared to the other members of the American Election Loser’s Lounge, it’s different for him, not having a job and all to return to. Kerry and McCain returned to the Senate; Al Gore returned to the Earth; and Bob Dole returned to… wherever. Even Paul Ryan has work he still has to do as a Representative in Wisconsin.
But, Romney… what’s he going to do? Get a job with Fox News like Palin? Or, even worse, get a Mormon billionaire reality show on TLC… like Palin?
Alas, we spoke too soon. Yesterday, Romney sat down in a conference call with his highest donors to talk about what exactly happened on Election Night. Remember the last time he talked to these guys? And then someone secretly recorded it, put it on Mother Jones and permanently changed the campaign’s public persona? Well, this time around, the only noticeable difference was the timing.
Here’s a preview of some of the reported remarks:
“The President’s campaign focused on giving targeted groups a big gift – so he made a big effort on small things… You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free healthcare, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free healthcare worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpuity. I mean. this is huge.”
The ‘gifts’ that Romney prescribes to the voting populace strike a clear chord with the undertones of his ’47 Percent’ speech, where he proclaimed that those who don’t pay income tax and receive costly handouts by Big Brother all support Obama. The conservative spiel sounded different, though, during the campaign; after that speech hit headlines, the whole robotic businessman caricature that was gradually being built for him had made landfall. But, now that we know what become of that campaign, this version from the ex-Presidential candidate comes off as white noise.

The ‘gifts’ perspective of public policy was ruled out at the ballot box; that 47 percent Romney staked out soon turned into an electoral majority. In other words, the warped ideology of how a government should view its people was locked out at the front door by those same people almost faster than Romney himself.

Knowing that, this could be Romney’s last political breath of air – a final atonement to an idea that America just didn’t wanna accept. And a loss his huge donors didn’t want to bare.

“I’m very sorry that we didn’t win,” he said. “I know you expected to win, we expected to win, we were disappointed with the result, we hadn’t anticipated it, and it was very close but close doesn’t count in this business.” 

Gifts, anyone?

A Few Lessons We Learned From the 2012 Election Season

Election Day is upon us, people. We cannot even begin to count the minutes, hours, days, and months since this whole boondaggle started to consume the media’s attention, but it’s safe to say that it has been way too long. And, once it’s over, we can return to normalcy, which is a prolonged period of time when any utterance of the phrase “swing state” is prohibited by law.

But that’s not to say that this election season was for nothing. The quadrennial spectacle of American politics is always introspective for the nation; we learn about ourselves, our brethren, and just how dirty and disrespectful our elected officials can act toward one another. It’s pretty great. Except we usually forget all those lessons the minute the curtains close in the ballot box and have to re-teach ourselves everything the next time around.
With that being said, as the Biggest Story of 2012 winds down, we are left with memories, projections for the future, and, of course, the aforementioned lessons. So let’s step back for a second and take a look at all of this from a student’s point of view.
Preach, Election 2012:

1. Rick Santorum is actually insane. His views on gays; his views on contraceptives; his views on women; his views on the separation between church and state (or lack thereof); his views on Palestinians; his views on Satan in America; his views on waging war with China; his views on Darwinism; his views on any policy issue since the birth of the Constitution. And he almost became the nominee.

2. During an election, social media can be leveling, enthralling, informative and funny. Also, it can be very, very annoying. The information overload and second-by-second commentary during the debates really nailed this one down. We all follow that one person on Twitter whose more than willing to call shots in this election but couldn’t tell you how the tax structure in America works. Or that friend on Facebook who posts statuses about the election that are neither intelligent nor coherent. Yes, social media gives all of us a voice in the democratic process that we’ve never had before. But, keyword: all of us.
3. Unfettered private equity is, uhm, not good.
4. The vice presidential debate can be (and was) more entertaining than the presidential debates. It’s a bunch of malarkey if you disagree.
5. Kid Rock will never be cool. And singing “Bawitdaba” with Paul Ryan is not helping anyone.
6. Mitt Romney has a love/hate relationship with New York’s wealthiest.
7. If you run for President, ask yourself this over and over again: “Do I really want Clint Eastwood’s endorsement?”
8. Whether it’s the killing of Trayvon Martin or what happened in Aurora, our elected officials will always be hesitant to talk about gun control. And that’s a damn shame.
9. At one point, polls had Herman Cain in the lead among prospective Republican voters. Therefore, polls are bullshit.
10. Never let a House Republican talk to you about rape.
11. Do not listen to a band if you’re running for one of the highest offices in the free world and not only not share, but also vehemently oppose, their political views. Because they’ll call you out in front of everyone.
12. In the Big Picture and long-term scheme of things, trends are irrelevant. Who the hell is Big Bird? Is he voting for Mitt Romney? Am I voting for Mitt Romney? How did Obama do in the first debate? Was he asleep? What are binders full of women? Is Newt serious about a moon colony? Does any of this even matter on Election Day? No, it does not at all.
To America (or whoever is reading this): your job over the next 24 hours is to memorize these lessons. Like, really, really memorize them. Don’t forget them. If you do, we’re all screwed come 2016.
Oh, and go vote. That, too.

No Matter What We Do, the Election Has to Leak Into Hurricane Sandy

Serious conviction: Most of New York’s media folk are stuck indoors, looking for something to write about to fill blogs with content. Guilty as charged myself. However, while social media collapses with updates of Sandy’s destruction, there have been flares of America’s severe electoral illness. Symptoms include: taking any event and asking “What does this mean for the election?”

Given, the election is a week away (yeah . . . we know) so it’s only natural that we think of the near future. But there’s something to be said about the election leaking into a national crisis or the act of politicizing the wrath of Mother Nature — we reported on a similar all-political-everything matter involving Romney and hurricanes a few months back, when he told a woman to “Call 2-1-1” if the going gets rough. There’s also something to be said when we’re talking more about the implications for the election than its possible correlation to, uhm, global warming.
Here’s a couple of ‘Sandy’s impact’ narratives that I’ve come across on the Interwebs: 1) Romney pledged to cut FEMA (and then re-pledged), which will come back to bite him in the ass now; 2) studies of incumbent presidents losing elections when it’s shitty out; 3) studies of voter backlash on presidents during weather-related crises; 4) voters will think Obama is more “presidential” signing emergency declarations for Pennsylvania and New Jersey; and 5) a combination of previous points with additional “What about the children?”-like questions.
Also, here’s the sad truth for bloggers: The storm will not affect the election.
Easy explanation for that: Dealing with the storm has nothing to do with creating jobs. Do we honestly think the unemployed worker cares about FEMA funding at this point? The economy spelled backwards is not Hurricane Sandy, and, no matter the realities at hand, that is what this election is all about. And the media should know that better than anyone.
However, the media can’t be blamed for all of this (we’re nice when you get to know us, we swear). Finding or looking for the meaning in everything is the human condition in the age of infinite media; with so many outlets screaming at once, an association bursts into a variability of way too many possibilities. In other words, the connection between Election 2012 and Sandy will naturally spur hundreds of different headlines. Once we realize it’s our own collective flaw, we can give ourselves advice.
Like this: Guys, there’s a serious event that lived up to the overhype we diagnosed it with. We’ll deal with the election later. Romney and Obama will be just fine. For now, let’s watch out for one another. Deal?

Clint Eastwood Narrates New Pro-Romney Ad, Makes It Sound Much More Epic Than It Actually Is

For a while, Clint Eastwood was the true third party in this election. After his endorsement for Romney, the Hollywood bravado set off a media firestorm with his self-destructive tirade against a stool during the RNC and his even more self-destructive explanation of said speech. We laughed, we cried, and we got over it real quick — kinda like Trouble With the Curve.

Since then, the star has remained relatively mum while the campaigns kicked into high gear heading into November. America took its attention off Dirty Harry to focus on the bigger issues at hand here, like the “binders of women” or Big Bird.

At least for the time being.

Think of it as a sequel to his “Halftime in America” pro-Detroit ad during the Super Bowl last year. In a new swing state spot for Karl Rove’s SuperPAC, Crossroads GPS, Eastwood has the following message for America:

“In the last few years, America’s been knocked down. Twenty-three million people can’t find full-time work, and we borrow 4 billion dollars every single day from China. When someone doesn’t get the job done, you gotta hold ’em accountable. Obama’s second term would just be a re-run of the first, and our country just couldn’t survive that. We need someone who can turn it around fast and that man is Mitt Romney. There’s not that much time left, and the future of our country is at stake.”

You’ve heard this all before if you’ve watched any of the debates or listened to Romney or Ryan for more than 20 seconds, America. But something about the voice of Eastwood makes that message come alive like never before. His rugged tone adds on another layer of anxiety to the already super-anxious message at hand. We are running out of time, guys, Romney is our only hope.

Then you Google “Eastwood RNC” and everything’s back to normal — just in time to watch Mystic River.


Before Debate, Romney Munches on Quinoa While Obama Opts for Steak




Well it was Meatless Monday.

The AP reported earlier that before last night’s presidential Debate, Mitt Romney scarfed down a quinoa burger and “Cajun-spiced fries from Burger Fi restaurant”. President Obama and the First Lady opted against ordering Hipster Dogs and instead shared a “good luck” meal of steak and potatoes — the same dish they enjoyed before the previous debate. [AP]


The Mayor on the Election: Romney, Obama Economic Plans “Are Not Real”

Since he endorsed then-president Bush in 2004, Mayor Bloomberg has remained relatively mum during the election season. He didn’t endorse anyone in 2008 and will not do so this year either. The Republican-turned-independent politician likes to pull strings from the outside instead: Just last week, the billionaire told the press that he would be creating his own SuperPAC to funnel funds to Congressional candidates that shared his political views.

By doing so, the mayor hopes to influence a different level of the national stage. And that makes sense, given that he doesn’t seem to like the two presidential candidates too much.
In an interview with The New York Times yesterday, Bloomberg spilled the beans on all his electoral emotions, much to the dismay of the Romney and Obama tents. Needless to say, the criticisms were harsh for both sides, but the icing on the cake of it all was the mayor’s overarching referendum on the candidates’ policies:
“Their economic plans are not real. I think that’s clear. If you listen to what they say, they never get explicit.” (For Romney, at least, a whole website has been dedicated to that idea: Ladies and gentlemen, we give you…
The mayor has spoken.
However, if you read the rest of Bloomberg’s comments, he reminds you of the disappointed liberal more so than the centrist mold he has created for himself. On the president’s social stances, in terms of gay marriage and gun control (two issues that Bloomberg has prided himself on), the mayor is stumped by inaction:
“I will say that I don’t see as much action as I would like, and it’s nice to be on the side that I think you should be on, but unless you do something, so what.”
Continuing on that liberal fury, the mayor even included an indictment of Romney’s business experience, which is strange coming from a man who flew into office on the “I’m a businessman who can run government too” ticket:
“I do think that Romney’s business experience would be valuable, but I don’t know that running Bain Capital gives you the experience to run the country.”
Private equity is not the same as running a multimillion dollar financial information service company, Mitt.
But don’t think for a second that Bloomberg sympathizes with Obama on taxing the 1 Percent — an issue we touched upon two weeks ago with the mayoral race next year. “This business of ‘Well, they can afford it; they should pay their fair share?’ Well, who are you to say ‘Somebody else’s fair share’?”
Once again, the mayor has spoken. Sorry, Mitt and Barack. This guy ain’t your friend.

Eastwood Explains His Improv, Invisible Obama and the Stool

When we reported a few weeks back that Clint Eastwood endorsed Mitt Romney, we had no idea that the campaign would give him the podium; one that was being watched by millions of people. Or that he would give one of the most memorable speeches in convention history. Needless to say, we were gleefully surprised by it all (as was most of Twitter and the blogosphere).

While the media tried to decipher the cultural/political/economic implications of the speech, Eastwood remained silent on his remarks. Until yesterday: in an interview with the Carmel Pine Cone, the newspaper of the town in which Eastwood used to be Mayor, Clint had a few things to say about what exactly happened in Tampa. He called the Obama administration the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people” and told reporter Paul Miller the inside story.

So, here at the Voice, we’re going to take you through the good, the bad and the ugly of Clint Eastwood’s speech, one theme and one defense at a time.

On the constituencies: “I may have irritated a lot of the lefties but I was aiming for people in the middle.”

On the facts: “I had three major points I wanted to make. That not everybody in Hollywood is on the left, that Obama has broken a lot of the promises he made when he took office, and that the people should feel free to get rid of any politician who’s doing a bad job.”

On the improv: “They vet most of people, but I told them, ‘You can’t do that with me, because I don’t know what I’m going to say.” “I didn’t make up my mind exactly what I was going to say until I said it.” “That’s what happens when you don’t have a written-out speech.”

On the stool and Invisible Obama: “There was a stool there and some fella kept asking me if I wanted to sit down. When I saw the stool sitting there, it gave me the idea. I’ll just put the stool out there and I’ll talk to Mr. Obama and ask him why he didn’t keep all of the promises he made to everybody.”

On Clint Eastwood: “They’ve got this crazy actor who’s 82 years old up there in a suit. I was a mayor, and they’re probably thinking I know how to give a speech, but even when I was mayor, I never gave speeches. I gave talks.”

On Romney and Ryan after the speech: “They were very enthusiastic and we were all laughing.”

On the audience: “They really seemed to be enjoying themselves.”

Ain’t that the truth, Clint.

(For the full interview in the Carmel Pine Cone, click here).


NY AG Eric Schneiderman’s Subpoenas Aimed at Private Equity Firms, Bain Capital & Romney Donors Included

In a few weeks, this might be the Issue of the Election or the Story That Brought Romney Down. At this point, only time can tell.

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has begun to send out subpoenas to investigate the tax situations in numerous private equity companies situated in the Big Apple, including Bain Capital, Republican hopeful Mitt Romney’s coup de grace and the subject of his Horatio Alger story.
According to the piece, the legal action is focused on the belief that these private equity companies “converted certain management fees collected from their investors into fund investments;” in a simpler diction, the companies are charged with writing off millions of dollars worth in taxes – Bain saving almost $200 million that could have gone to the state government’s tax base.
The investigation rides off the coattail of a trove of documents Gawker leaked last month that gave us all a glimpse into the dark, shady world that is Bain Capital and private equity. Downsizing, leveraged buyouts and dollar signs were in abundance as well as long lists of management fees skirted off into the capital gains domain. But although the documents provide the basis for the AG’s argument, the subpoenas came before the leak and have no connection to them.
Nonetheless, a look inside what made Mitt rich beyond belief with illegal implications could be destructive in the eyes of voters…. especially when all of his friends are involved, too.
Throughout the summer, the Voice provided you with the ‘Mitt Loves N.Y.’ series (written by yours truly) in which we profiled some of the richest Romney bankrollers in the Big Apple. One of the biggest discoveries that I found was this enormous web the Republican candidate had weaved across the private equity field; a circle of friends that reaped in treasure chests full of cash flow for the campaign. As I have mentioned before, fellow private equity profiteers seem to stick together.
So when I received word of Schneiderman’s investigation, I immediately recognized several of the names; I had written all about ’em just months before. With these connections established, this legal undertaking transforms into an enormously widespread indictment of the Romney SuperPAC known as Restore Our Future and the monies siphoned into Team Romney, all of which ties back to the Candidate himself. But all it takes is one crack, right?
Here are a two of the other donors now involved in Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s ongoing investigation, with references to the names mentioned in the Times article. Check out the profiles for further insight into the Romney Web:
1. Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co. – Henry Kravis
2. Apollo Global Management – Marc Rowan
Now, Schneiderman’s motive for the investigation is still unknown; as an Obama supporter and an official leading the President’s mortgage crisis unit, he has been chastised for being too politically involved as a law enforcement agent. However, the Attorney General of a state cannot enforce federal tax law; therefore, the physical gains of the investigation would just be a shit ton of additional (and much needed) tax revenue for New York.
Be sure to keep this story in mind. It goes without saying that this will not be the first time you hear about Gotham’s reckoning before November.

Hurricane Romney, “Go Home and Call 211” and the Politics of Everything

With Clint Eastwood’s to-hell-with-this-wooden-chair speech in the past, the brutally drawn-out Republican National Convention has come to an end, leaving the Romney campaign to finally focus on the last three months of the election season. And these upcoming few weeks are the most important: as the candidates mark out their final talking points, the notorious yet senselessly hopeless skeptics known as the ‘independent voters’ go through the ultimate process of elimination. Hooray for the two-party system!

Moving on from Tampa, Mitt has found himself in hurricane territory: after accepting an invite from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, the Republican hopeful traveled down to the devastated lands in Isaac’s path. These were the towns that unfortunately exist outside of the vast levee system that “protects” Louisiana’s shores after Katrina. And most of them were found underwater by authorities after the storm hit.
Once there, Romney spent close to an hour with Jindal shaking hands with first responders and National Guardsmen. The Governor pointed out to reporters that he extended the invite to Mr. Obama as well even though the President is coming on his own accord this Monday. And Jindal has a history of not accepting invites from the President, too: he was one of the few Republican governors that refused to accept stimulus funds a few years back. At the time, Louisiana had one of the worst unemployment numbers in the country
Mitt also met Jodie Chiarello, a 42-year-old woman who lost her house thanks to Isaac. Since the federal funds did not come to her area a few years back, her house was submerged under water and, now, she has nowhere to go. When Jodie asked Mitt what he could do about the situation, he had a brilliant plan to salvage what was left.
“He just told me to, uhm, there’s assistance out there,” she told reporters. “He said, ‘go home and call 211.'”
For those who do not know, 211 is a public service number one calls for basic human needs resources and other physical/mental resources in times of crisis. According to its website, you can also call it for unemployment benefits, daycare and donation centers. It’s like the 311 number we have here in New York – it’s a direct connection to your government, except they’ll probably put you on hold for fifteen minutes or so. Relax, the government will help you when it gets around to it.
Besides the fact that Jodie has no home to call 211 from, Romney’s suggestion relies upon an individual responsibility that lies as the cornerstone of his partner-in-crime’s budget. In Path to Prosperity, Paul Ryan offers an 80% cut in discretionary spending – the largest gutting of governmental public services in our lifetime – and FEMA finds itself stuck on the chopping block. Although exact numbers aren’t given to how much disaster funds would be cut, it’s safe to say that calling 211 might be the only option left in a nation starved for cash flow.
This was the point made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid yesterday when he chastised Mitt and Paul for even thinking that they could show sympathy for the hurricane victims. A bit harsh? Yes. In a statement, he wrote,

“It is the height of hypocrisy for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to make a pretense of showing sympathy for the victims of Hurricane Isaac when their policies would leave those affected by this disaster stranded and on their own.”

Contrary to popular belief, everything is political. As cynical and heart-wrenching as it sounds,  a natural disaster like Hurricane Isaac is dealt with by human hands and, as Hunter S. Thompson once pointed out, “politics is the art of controlling your environment.” Therefore, Reid’s interjection of Ryan’s budget into the conversation is a common move by politicians (especially during election season) to further politicize an already political event. That was a tongue twister and a half.

However, the downside of an all-political reality is the ignorance that rides the coat tail of partisanship. If we’re talking disasters, we saw it happen back when Katrina hit New Orleans. While the country argued with itself over responsibility (or lack thereof) from FEMA, the Cajun city got privatized and assembled back together like a leaded toy from China.
And we are seeing the same thing happen here in this election now with Isaac. Sure, criticize Romney for telling Jodie to ‘go home and call 211’ but Reid is just as guilty of taking our eyes off the real victims here as well. The argument shifts away from the actual physical and emotional toll Isaac left behind on these people and we find itself mired in talks of the budget and Ayn-Rand-inspired personal responsibility.
In the end, humans are responsible for politics but they never want to be responsible for its side-effects. All this information can be repeated for you by calling 2-1-1.