Taking a PRincipled stand

      32 Comments on Taking a PRincipled stand

Republican Congressman Todd Akin, speaking on pregnancies resulting from rape, said earlier this month, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways of shutting that whole thing down.” The Romney campaign reacted with a statement: “Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement.” Last week, Richard Mourdock, an Indiana Republican candidate for U.S. Senate said, “I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” Governor Romney’s spokesperson wrote: “Governor Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock’s comments, and they do not reflect his views,” but continued support of Mourdock’s candidacy.

This week on CNN, former New Hampshire Governor and Romney operative John Sununu commented on Gen. Colin Powell’s endorsement of President Obama. “Frankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or whether he’s got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama…I think when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.” A Romney spokeswoman said Sununu’s comment “did not reflect the views of the campaign.” Also this week, former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin wrote, “We deserve answers to this (attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya). President Obama’s shuck and jive shtick with these Benghazi lies must end.” Conservative commentator Ann Coulter tweeted after Monday’s debate that she approved of “Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.” And…Donald Trump offered the president $5 million for any charity (specifically citing inner city children in Chicago) if he would release his college transcripts. There was no comment from Romney on the Palin, Coulter and Trump remarks.

Some say this series of slips and slurs reflect a hopelessly backward, racially prejudiced and out of touch GOP. But it may be unfair to assume that all this buffoonery will result in collateral damage to the top of the ticket. What we should really note is Romney’s responses. He has chosen either tepid reactions to these outrageous points of view or silence. If I headed the campaign’s PR efforts, Romney would take a principled stand and denounce–under the strongest possible terms–what was said by these individuals.

But all was not negative this past week; Romney did get endorsements from the New York Post and Meat Loaf. And he is running neck-in-neck with the president with a few days left in the campaign. Your thoughts?

32 thoughts on “Taking a PRincipled stand

  1. publicrelationspro

    The fact that Romney made statements saying that he did not share the same views as those who spoke out and made the controversial remarks was good, but I agree that it is not what he should have done. It strikes me odd that Romney does not share the same views but backs these people anyway. I think that the only reason Romney was anywhere close to beating Obama is because people were unhappy with Obama, not necessarily because they liked Romney.

  2. Taylor Albright

    I believe with Kellie completely. The slips that Romney has made will either be overlooked by his supporters. His pr team needs to help him practice on not having these slip ups so that he doesn’t come off wrong. I am sure he means well, but in this business words can do a lot of damage and he needs to control that.

  3. Christine Brazeau

    It has been very obvious that the republican party has been drifting further and further toward the right rather than having a stance in anything moderate. Most of the party has been very conservative in their beliefs lately. The comments that some of the republicans have made are being heavily scrutinized and questioned, and on top of that Mr. Romney’s responses are being watched carefully. For anyone running to be the president you must be careful with what you agree and disagree with considering the public is always listening. I think these cases have over time gotten harder to deal with because information goes around so quickly. Saying something just a little bit wrong, or having your message be skewed will result in attacks from everyone. It makes it that much harder for a republican candidate to represent his party as it moves to the right, and they’re be scrutinized so hard.

  4. Kristin Mancuso

    Although it is insulting that many Republicans have been labeled negatively off of what a few men said, I do have to agree that these comments have truly impacted his campaign. It is evident that Romney’s publicity team has not handle the situation correctly, which unfortunately for him, has cost him his presidency. I believe that Romney made the mistake of pardoning the comments rather than addressing the public directly, which he should have done. I understand that he should not have to address every comment made, but it has gone out of control and he should have made up for it. It is really devastating how people are defining rape in terms that are degrading to woman.

  5. Kellie Sahagian

    Personally I believe that Romney supporters had become extremely ignorant. I feel like he doesn’t understand the effect of some of the words that come out of his mouth, and his supporters just either overlook it or decide to support it. I feel like Romney definitely needed a better pr team.

  6. Nicole Chiarella

    It is hard to control what will becoming out of others mouths. You want to think to you know your team and all opinions that may be put out to the pubic. I do not know how I would react to comments from my party especially if it is not something that I support. It is always important to reconsider what you are going to say before you say it. I did not realize there was a difference between rape or a legitimate rape but that’s just me. Sometimes you just cannot control what will happen but it is best to respond quickly and in a professional manner. PR teams are the ones that should be giving these people the scenarios of how people will react to the statements they may make. This will open their eyes and give them a light into the situation they might put themselves into.

  7. Jenny Zheng

    Romney’s pr team clearly isn’t as experienced with handling presidential elections as Obama’s team is. FIrst of all, Obama’s been through all of this before, and his team can handle most of what comes their because they know what to expect. Secondly, I’ve heard that Romney’s pr team is young and not as experienced period (as in not just inexperienced with presidential campaigns). Being aware of how you look to others is a big deal when market yourself to a country, and everything you say or do is subject to criticism. The bottom line is that both presidential candidates should check themselves before they do anything that might be viewed the wrong way. The polls are closing soon however, so we will see which candidate won over the majority of this country.

  8. Michelle Shelorke

    I completely agree with this post from a PR standpoint. All of my PR classes have stated the same thing: silence is not the answer. You should always keep an open flow of communication to make sure the public is informed. When you ignore major comments that can potentially sway the voters’ opinions, then they need to be addressed. Ignoring the problems will not fix them at all, it is better to say something than nothing. If you want to compare it to something, it’s like taking a test. If you leave a question blank, you will not get any credit for it, so you might as well answer it. Romney’s choice to ignore these major issues will definitely affect his votes in my opinion. I do not only believe this because I am a supporter of Obama, but also because his character comes off as sketchy and that he is hiding something by not addressing the important issues. I realize that these comments were made close to Election Day and he may have wanted to spend time showing more of himself, but to simply stay clear of responding to questions on everyone’s minds regarding comments that have been made is not smart on his and his PR team’s part.

  9. Kerri Sheehan

    The fact that Romney has any supporters makes me sick. I think Romney is going to be very disgruntled on election day when he finds out that women have been able to vote for the last hundred years. His PR team is not doing a very good job at making him look like a good man.

  10. Anand Patel

    I can’t even believe I’m reading any of this. I feel like the Republican supporters and officials lack the human nature to even be a part of human society. Not all of them of course but seriously, Ann Coulter should know better than to call THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA a retard. That’s grounds for treason. And the whole rap thing with Akin and Mourdock… I can’t even. So much keeps coming up out of the framework like the situation in Virginia where someone working with the GOP was found out to have thrown away absentee ballots, voter registrations, etc. It’s just a bit ridiculous. AND Sarah Palin… I can’t even take her seriously… I don’t even know what to think now but that my mind has been made and my decision keeps getting stronger…

  11. Kevin Alexander Tamerler

    I have to agree that I’m not sure Romney has any opening to more heavily attack these ignorant statements. While there may be some attempts, and even some success, in tying him to Akin and Mourdock; his priority has to be moving the focus of the media and the public attention (which is regrettably short) away from these sideshows to focus on issues that “matter.”

    Moreover, abortion and race especially don’t lend themselves to nuanced views. While we want to say, in our safe cozy liberal arts college, that these views are “way outside the mainstream” that’s a very binary view of the situation. Mourdock, Akin, and Coulter aren’t islands. While they may be far away from the consensus position, there’s a very clear series of connecting points between here and there. So how does Willard calibrate a response? He can’t show any sympathy to them, or those in favor of Roe v. Wade will jump all over him in ads. But if he fails to show any sympathy at all, movement evangelicals who form much of the rank and file of the GOP will feel betrayed: even if they don’t necessarily share a view that extreme they are far enough to the right that it doesn’t look crazy to them, and throwing Mourdock and Akin under the bus would be akin to fratricide. As much as he might dislike them, and I can’t believe he doesn’t despise them after all the trouble they’ve put him through, without them he doesn’t even have a minority party in congress let alone a shot at a majority.

  12. Jessica Chalmers

    Wow! All of the comments by those people who supports Romney are crazy especially the rape victims and pregnancies. However, from a PR point of view someone should have spoke on Romney’s behalf stating he doesn’t support those comments.

    – Jessica Chalmers

  13. brittanywalsh

    Mitt Romney should have openly addressed the ignorant comments made by other Republican politicians. His silence leads many to believe that he agrees with these comments even though that may not be the case. The potential leader of the United States of America should take a stance against issues that are clearly discriminatory and offensive. Romney has an extremely qualified group of public relations professionals that could have not only responded to these issues but used them as a platform to express Romney’s stance as opposed to the ignorant ones put forth by the other republicans. A more detailed and genuine response could have done Romney a lot of good at this point in the election.

  14. Rebecca Wolfe

    Wow! it seems like politics is just a political soap opera. The stuff they talk about is always so juicy (& silly). It is very sketchy that Obama will not release his college transcripts, but the whole ordeal of politics is extremely sketchy to me. I feel like they should not be focusing so much on petty issues, like abortion, which i think is petty because it involves the individual not the whole community, and they should only be focusing on community based problems, like the ENVIRONMENT, and money, and whatever else makes them tick.. I feel like American citizens are being made a mockery out of by being forced by politicians and media to argue with each other over what i consider petty issues that politicians honestly have no right even discussing, and then being left with the choice to choose one of the two evils. I think the people need to take the power back into their own hands and discuss the real problems because obviously politicians are too busy being drama queens. Maybe hurricane sandy will make people wake up and realize more that we have way larger problems, like the environment to worry about, than the silly mind consuming drama we have fed into for so many years.

  15. Jenny Rowe

    There are so many Romney supporters out there who have absolutely no idea about some of these comments he is making. Mitt will obviously say anything that he believes will get his constantly changing message out to the public. He should not be able to get away with this and if he becomes president, I fear for this country.

  16. Nicole Risell

    Romney’s responses seem really generic. Responding to these incidences would be great opportunities to state his key messages, but I guess Romney’s people didn’t think so. I can kind of see why Romney didn’t respond to some remarks because Coulter’s and Trump’s comments are irrelevant and stupid, so I wouldn’t advise him to waste time responding, and he already responded in the debates to the subject of Palin’s comment. Overall, I think Romney’s team could have formed better responses that included key messages of his campaign.

  17. Julie Rafatpanah

    I feel that Mitt Romney’s alignment with the Republican party forces him to align with a more radical viewpoint. Although he may personally disagree with these politicians, many share these antiquated points of view, representative of the fact that the modern day Republican party is outdated. In a way, I feel like Romney can’t win with this; if he takes a strong stance against these statements, he’ll be an (unfair) subject of backlash, and move more towards the left/center. However, if Romney keeps silent, the public will rightfully criticize his alignment with these Republicans, and even the Republican party as a whole.

    1. passportstories

      Julie, I have to agree with you. No matter what Romney does, he will be ridiculed. It is a losing battle for him. One unfortunate problem with the Republican party today is that they have social beliefs that are extremely outdated. These beliefs really hurt some people because it is more of a social rights and equality issue. It affects women, men, homosexuals, heterosexuals, sons and daughters. This really hurts the party in their chances to win office. However, if they were to move closer to the center and become more moderate with these social beliefs, they would be mocked saying that they were not holding true to their beliefs. I am not sure if there is a solution to fix this problem, or if there ever will be a solution.

      -Molly Sestak

  18. Hillary Alexandre

    Although Romney may not be able to respond to every comment made from people, I think he should have definitely responded to the comments about rape. Those comments definitely made it to my list of absolutely absurd statements. I feel as though Romney does not want to respond directly because he does not want to show what side he is on just yet. He wants to sway back and forth so that he can get as much votes possible. This to me does not show strong leadership characteristics.

  19. Joanna Soares

    If Romney wins, I will cry! He is so transparent and will continue to sway back and forth for votes. He doesn’t stand strong to what he says. However, I think that remaining silent for now is best considering the fact that he is great at putting his foot in his mouth and retaliating might make things worse for him. Additionally, it is so close to the election that I’m sure he is too busy to be worrying about these critics.

  20. Kerry Kiddoo

    How can Romney address each and every comment that is thrown his way? I do not believe is he a coward after having not responded to these people, as he should be focused on his last few weeks of campaigning with the election so near. Every nit-picky person needs to back off and give each candidate their space, as these comments are just intended to get a rise out of Romney. Let the candidates do what they need to do in the last few weeks.

  21. Rachel

    Is it Romney’s job to respond to every idiot republican’s comments? I think he’s staying focused on the last few days of his campaign. I’m confused why every republican’s comments are somehow his responsibility…ie: Donald Trump, who’s not even a political figure. I can’t stand Romney, but i don’t understand why he’s receiving flack for these comments?

  22. Vanessa Mota

    I really dislike some of the comments made by these people. I do believe it is a big mistake for Gov. Romney to not address this dead on. Having a PR representative say that these people’s point-of-views do not reflect your own thoughts and/or campaign it’s not enough to make voters believe in the presidential candidate.

  23. Lauren Ciuzio

    I feel like Mitt Romney will do anything to sway people’s opinions, which is why I am not voting for him. Also, his silence in this situation doesn’t sit with me well either. I think he should have issued a better statement towards what Akin and Mourdick said, because their statements are very unsettling to me. Also, I do not like Romney’s stand on abortion and rape. I believe men have no right to decide the rules of abortion. I don’t agree with abortion as a method of birth control, but if a woman is raped, I feel she has every right to get an abortion, so she is not reminded the rest of her life what had happened to her.

  24. Amanda Brennan

    I’m getting real tire of male politicians deciding what is considered rape and what isn’t. It’s quite disgusting how much they let religion and their ignorance dictate their stances on politics and social issues in this country. As a woman, I’m obviously offended. The body doesn’t “shut down” during rape, what kind of world is this guy living in? As for Romney, he disagrees this week but next week he’ll be on his side. He literally will say anything just to sway opinion every which way.

  25. Leia Schultz

    I was disgusted by the comments made by Akin and Mourdock. Despite statements from Romney’s campaign claiming that he “disagrees,” his continued support of his fellow Republicans demonstrates that he is willing to sacrifice his principles to ensure that Republicans are elected into office. It’s difficult for me to trust a man who obviously cares more about maintaining conservative affiliations than taking a strong stand against idiotic and offensive opinions. I am not fond that Romney is unwilling to make his own comments about the situations you mention; to me, it indicates that he doesn’t care enough to confront people and stand up for what he believes in. Political views aside, I would never vote for someone who isn’t prepared to defend his or her principles during the campaign process.

  26. Chloe Lambros

    I think that it is always important to think before speaking, and sometimes people forget to use the filter they have implanted in their head to actually do this. I agree that Romney’s responses are really starting to form a pattern in which he has “tepid reactions to these outrageous points of view or silence.”

    I honestly cannot say who might win this year’s election; both candidates seem to be pulling out the big guns and, like you said, are “neck-in-neck.” It a close call, but as of now, if Romney keeps it up with “tepid reactions” or “science” as a response, he will never gain the full support or respect from the people. Response is one of the key most important forms of communication in PR, and if your response does not reflect them well, than others will have a different outlook of you. You are a brand; promote yourself well and be careful of what you say.

  27. Bert Cunningham

    And…there were no bonehead comments made by supporters of President Obama during the campaign or did they just not get as much coverage? Campaigns at any level seek to stay on message as much as possible, especially in the closing days and hours. Distractions, like stupid comments by others, can get campaigns and candidates off message. Now is not the time for either presidential campaign to get distracted. The 24-hour focus until Election Day should be on: “This is who I am and this is what I stand for.”

      1. Bert Cunningham

        Standing up for one’s personal beliefs and stating them publicly is not silence. It’s a positive action to overcome misperceptions that can be caused by others.

        1. jmorosoff

          But I must be missing something in your response, Bert. Who’s standing up for one’s personal beliefs? Akin and Mourdick? Not Romney…unless maybe his silence is tactical so not to call further attention to these out-of-the-mainstream beliefs.


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