I had a very instructive conversation with a friend from Northumberland last night. She's an older woman, in her 90s, and she told me that, after watching the Obama-Romney debate, she had decided to vote for Romney.
Romney sounded, she explained, as if he is willing to work with Democrats to find solutions to our problems. Her tacit implication was that Obama has not been willing to work with Republicans. So I pointed out that Mitch McConnell and other Republican leaders have openly proclaimed that their top priority is to prevent Obama from being reelected, and their obvious strategy has been to 1) oppose virtually everything he proposes or supports, 2) accuse him of being unwilling to work with them, and 3) blame him for not getting anything done. That seemed to be news to my friend. "I just haven't been watching," she conceded.
My friend then mentioned that she strongly disliked the Tea Party influence on the Republican Party -- to the extent that she no longer considers herself a Republican. "But you're going to vote for them?" I asked. No, she is going to vote for Romney as an individual, she explained, not for the party. So I asked if she had watched the Republican primary debates, in which Romney tried so hard to paint himself as a Tea Party conservative. No, she hadn't watched them, she admitted.
How many other voters "just haven't been watching?" How many voters, unaware of Romney's previously stated positions, were charmed by his moderate message and tone in the debate? How many will vote for him, never realizing that, by so doing, they are justifying the self-serving partisanship and Tea Party extremism they so dislike?
David D. Hursh,