Tags: romney | hillary

Romney Debases Himself With Intern Comment

Wednesday, 31 Oct 2007 03:03 PM

By Susan Estrich

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Shame on Mitt Romney for comparing Hillary Clinton to, of all things, "an intern."

Yes, an intern. Here's the full quote, from an interview with Sean Hannity. Said Romney of the woman who beats him in every poll: "The government of the United States is not a place for a president to be an intern. You need to have experience actually leading and running things."

Now, there are many things wrong with Gov. Romney's comparison. First of all, running a consulting business, which is what Romney did before taking over the Olympic games, doesn't necessarily prepare you to run the world, and it certainly doesn't require you to know much about foreign policy. Nor does running Massachusetts necessarily train you to run the country, much less understand the complexities of national security, international relations, multinational institutions or the demands of being commander-in-chief.

As a matter of fact, I must admit I'm old enough to remember when certain Republicans associated with another Bush had a field day with the very idea that running Massachusetts might prepare you to do anything other than run Massachusetts.

Lobsters and liberals, they used to say, were the only things Massachusetts ever produced (in those days before being a Red Sox fan meant rooting for a winner) — and in Romney's case, you might have to add, former liberals.

Second, from the other attacks on Sen. Clinton, especially for her power in her husband's administration and her role in healthcare, you'd never know she didn't run anything in the eight years she spent in the White House. Quite the contrary, the drumbeat for all those years was not that Hillary was the little lady, but that she wasn't. Was Hillarycare really just a deceptive effort to rouse potential donors to give money to the anti-Clinton attacks of the '90s?

Third, the current George Bush has given a bad name to holding a governorship as a qualification for being president. About the nicest thing most people can say about the current president's tenure in Washington is that he's been in over his head, certainly on matters of foreign policy. True, Texas has a weak governorship, but it's still Texas. Don't get me wrong — I'm a Massachusetts girl and the daughter of a Massachusetts Republican. But as my father used to tell me, a Massachusetts Republican is a Democrat anywhere else, which is why Romney has consistently had such problems with consistency.

But my real beef with Romney is his choice of "an intern" as the comparison to Mrs. Clinton. I can't be the only person who blanched at what seemed an obvious allusion to the most famous White House intern of our time — Ms. Lewinsky — and at the tastelessness of dragging her into Sen. Clinton's campaign. That certainly seems to be the reason the all-powerful Drudge Report is highlighting the Romney interview's one-liner about the "intern."

Now, maybe Romney and his folks think it's clever to bring Monica into play in an effort to undermine Hillary. And maybe the only people who will take offense are those of us who start off liking Mrs. Clinton.

But I wouldn't bet on it. Attacking Hillary Clinton by innuendo is one of those strategies with a capital chance of backfiring, particularly among women voters who understand that, at the end of the day, a wife is not her husband's keeper. You want to attack Bill Clinton for his relationship with Lewinsky, attack him, not the woman who was its primary victim.

Mitt Romney is supposed to be the family values candidate in this race. Could have fooled me.

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