At Buzzfeed, McKay Coppins has the pathetic tale behind the Romney campaign’s frantic efforts to capitalize politically on Hurricane Sandy without looking like they were capitalizing politically: The Making of Romney’s Storm Relief Event.
After some deliberation, the campaign decided to use their existing venue in Ohio to stage a makeshift and nonpartisan humanitarian project. It would be a way for Romney to show leadership — and get on the local news — without looking craven or opportunistic.
The cryptic advisory went out to press several hours later, announcing the time and location of a “storm relief event” on Tuesday. As Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, Romney’s campaign jet carried the candidate, along with his staff and traveling press corps, back to Ohio after an afternoon rally in Davenport, Iowa.
Meanwhile, on the ground in Dayton, aides were working feverishly to depoliticize the planned event. Campaign signs were removed from the premises, long rows of folding tables were set up, and logistics were painstakingly arranged to accomodate physical donations. …
The plan was for supporters to bring hurricane relief supplies to the event and then deliver the bags of canned goods, packages of diapers, and cases of water bottles to the candidate, who would be perched behind a table along with a slew of volunteers and his Ohio right-hand man, Senator Rob Portman. To complete the project and photo op, Romney would lead his crew in carrying the goods out of the gymnasium and into the Penske rental truck parked outside.
But the last-minute nature of the call for donations left some in the campaign concerned that they would end up with an empty truck. So the night before the event, campaign aides went to a local Wal-Mart and spent $5,000 on granola bars, canned food, and diapers to put on display while they waited for donations to come in, according to one staffer.
Cynicism is Mitt Romney’s constant watchword in this election. Another vignette from this crass display:
As supporters lined up to greet the candidate, a young volunteer in a Romney/Ryan T-shirt stood near the tables, his hands cupped around his mouth, shouting, “You need a donation to get in line!”
Empty-handed supporters pled for entrance, with one woman asking, “What if we dropped off our donations up front?”
The volunteer gestured toward a pile of groceries conveniently stacked near the candidate. “Just grab something,” he said.
Two teenage boys retrieved a jar of peanut butter each, and got in line. When it was their turn, they handed their “donations” to Romney. He took them, smiled, and offered an earnest “Thank you.”