Political Animal


January 20, 2012 10:45 AM ‘The real streets of America’

By Steve Benen

As the Republican presidential field shrinks to just four candidates, we’re left with four experienced contenders, all of whom can fairly be characterized as political professionals.

But only one of the four has never held office in Washington: Mitt Romney. He’s tried to serve in D.C. — running for the Senate in 1994 and for president in 2008 — but so far, voters haven’t been inclined to send him to the nation’s capital.

The former governor appears eager to use this distinction to his advantage. Consider this line from last night:

“[W]e need to send to Washington someone who has not lived in Washington, but someone who’s lived in the real streets of America…. We need to have someone outside Washington go to Washington.” [emphasis added]

Seriously? Romney’s from “the real streets”?

I’m sure there’s a very nice street that leads to his $12 million oceanfront mansion in California (the one Romney is quadrupling in size). The street is also no doubt lovely on the way to the $10 million home in New Hampshire and his townhouse in Belmont, Mass.

There’s also a perfectly nice street on the way to the nearby mansion, where one of Romney’s sons lives, and where Romney was registered to vote as recently as last year, as well as the $5 million ski chalet in an exclusive area in Utah, which Romney sold in 2010.

When Romney boasts about having lived in “the real streets,” are these the streets he’s referring to?

Perhaps he was referring to his more modest upbringing — when he lived with his father, who served as governor of Michigan and chairman and CEO of American Motors?

If Romney wants to present himself as a Washington outsider, fine. But maybe he can spare us the talk about his background in “the real streets of America.”

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • MikeBoyScout on January 20, 2012 10:53 AM:

    Maybe Mittens is only pointing out that Washington, DC will never be a state, therefore its streets are not real?

    Then again, Santorum and Gingrich have lived in Virginia forever.

    Seems a photo essay on Mitt's Streets of Dreams would be a nice project for someone with a knack for that sort of thing.

  • walt on January 20, 2012 10:54 AM:

    "Real streets" = all-white America.

    Mitt Romney's dog whistles are pitched so high most people are not even aware they're hearing them. But there's only one reason to vote for Romney when the dust settles. It has nothing to do with his career as a vulture capitalist. It's his self-portrait as America's Great White Hope.

    Hang down your head in shame, George.

  • c u n d gulag on January 20, 2012 10:55 AM:

    Methinks he meant "royal streets," but misspoke.

    Mitt, the only thing you know about "...the real streets of America," is that you wouldn't want to be caught dead on them alone at night.
    Because that's the way you'd be if people caught you there alone at night - d-e-a-d.

    And even in the daytime, only if you're campaigning, with a phalanx of Mormon Security personnel, each of whom is about the size of an NFL Defensive Lineman.

    There are no "real streets" if you're rich enough.

    Just publicly funded roadways for your private limo and privately funded security entourage.

  • martin on January 20, 2012 10:56 AM:

    Seriously? Romney’s from “the real streets”?

    They'r not booing, they're yelling "Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuce!"

  • internet tough guy on January 20, 2012 11:00 AM:


  • stormskies on January 20, 2012 11:12 AM:

    I lived for a time in Germany when Bush was president. He was hated so much there that citizens in about every town and city used to put little flags with his dumb fuck face on it in the dog shit left behind by those walking their dogs .........

    The only way buffoon Romney will ever see the 'real streets' of our country is perhaps by dropping these little flags with his face on them in the dog shit left behind by those actually living and walking on those streets .........

  • RollaMO on January 20, 2012 11:15 AM:

    Let's not focus on the fact that he's really, really rich. So is Warren Buffet, but he says "tax me more." That's the point that's missing and easier for Romney to deflect with "I am proud of being successful......" It's not his money, its the way he made it, and the fact that he doesn't pay his fair share of taxes.

  • Hedda Peraz on January 20, 2012 11:18 AM:

    Mitt is just like us Average Americans.

    -Grew up in the suburbs, was worried about getting a pink slip, took the family on vacations in the station wagon, (had a pet dog!), started a business, never inherited any money, married his childhood sweetheart, was unemployed, files tax returns every year, belongs to a church.

    And yet you people don't like him. What is WRONG with you?

  • Lifelong Dem on January 20, 2012 11:25 AM:

    You should read David Brooks' column today. Brooks says Romney's wealth is a "sideshow" and anyway, Romney's great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather suffered terrible hardships. Which means something somehow.

  • Josef K on January 20, 2012 11:26 AM:

    Give the guy a break, guys. He has to say something to make himself presentable after Gingrinch played the audience like a harp.

    Granted, Willard is a serial liar and professional failure. Probably explains why he's still a Republican.

  • sick-n-effn-tired. on January 20, 2012 11:38 AM:

    I agree with Hedda but she forgot one thing that Mitt told us ....that he made his own money and never inherited anything ....
    I know it's true because Mitt told me and George Romney went to his grave a pauper.

  • Celui on January 20, 2012 11:50 AM:

    The "Real Streets of America" lie is just a propaganda technique to invite the unquestioning voter to believe that Willard is "one of us", a "plain folks" hero, and that we should all "get on the bandwagon" with him so that we don't "suffer the fear" of being left out. As advertising goes, this approach is pretty universal and describes almost everything being sold, from toilet paper to useless nostrums. "Don't be different" is the mantra of a politician who IS different, and afraid to fess up to his differences. Can you imagine Willard in a meeting of world leaders, mish-moshing his feeble French and 'mis-speaking', not knowing what he's actually saying?? We've had fun with JFK's "Ich bin ein Berliner" smiling flop, but Romney's not in any class near JFK. He'll be the arrogant, white establishment face that the world has seen too much of, and he'll be inclined to open his mouth with his foot already firmly planted therein. "Real streets"? Let him come to the "real streets" of any American city and walk on them without a film crew, without his entourage, without his 'invisible shield of Gardol' smile. Let him deal with the women who work multiple jobs to provide for their families, never earning enough for needed health insurance. Let him discover what it really means to have to live on minimum-wage jobs. Let him discover the "real streets" firsthand. His very wealth and the insularity it brings will always make this impossible. Ditto for Newt. Really. Where do we begin to consider that these 'men of wealth' are able to lead, to govern, and to be honest with the voters, when they can't be honest with themselves??? It does seem that I have no place for any of the GOPers, doesn't it?

  • T2 on January 20, 2012 11:52 AM:

    this Romney comment reminds me that George W. Bush also portrayed himself as a "Washington Outsider". His problem selling that, of course, was that his dad was President of the United States. Romney, with a long-time front tier politician father, and himself a professional politician, will have a tough sales job on the Outsider thing. On the other hand, if he means "outsider" because he's a Mormon... oh, I guess he's not mentioning that too much.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on January 20, 2012 12:04 PM:

    When Romney boasts about having lived in “the real streets,” are these the streets he’s referring to?

    You know what streets, over there on "Running Beaver Court" which intersects "Skipping Deer Cul-de-Sac"... And don't mess with those hoods on the "Blooming Blossom Bend", they're real mean over there...

  • rea on January 20, 2012 12:06 PM:

    Romney's great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather suffered terrible hardships.

    Well, yes--they were persecuted for their family values, which were polygamy.

  • hells littlest angel on January 20, 2012 12:13 PM:

    From Mitt Romney's inaugural address:

    Wherever you can look - wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready, and when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build - I'll be there, too.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on January 20, 2012 12:29 PM:

    Lifelong Dem on January 20, 2012 11:25 AM said: "You should read David Brooks' column today. Brooks says Romney's wealth is a "sideshow" and anyway, Romney's great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather suffered terrible hardships. Which means something somehow."

    What a bunch of hooey... It's funny that it does means something (to Brooks, at least), because I don't ever recall it meaning anything when one's greatest grandfathers were slaves... It's absolutely mind boggling that when GOP'ers go into this "holier-than-thou-cream-of-the-crop-real-American-dream" routine whenever they talk about their own (questionable) "success", but when a Democrat/Liberal talks about their own success, they're suddenly "elitist" or "affirmative action-guvmint-handout" ne'er-do-wells. And better yet that they use the "outsider" crown of glory to describe their own political inexperience even though they screamed vehemenently that Obama was "unqualified" when he was running for president.

  • SKM on January 20, 2012 1:14 PM:

    on the website 'intrade' they have a title, "Mitt Romney to Drop Out 2012 Presidential Race."

    Don't know if it's true or not, but, they say before midnight tonight.

    I do know Romney is complaining he likes his privacy. But, that's nothing new, there are a lot of secrets within in church.

    He does need to drop out, we need less "corporate America" type people in Washington D.C. trying to privatize everything. Less ALEC, PNAC, Koch brothers...

    And the private security, well, he did hire Cofer Black, former head of Blackwater. And other guys who have what some say are phony police badges.

  • SKM on January 20, 2012 1:31 PM:

    Lifelong Dem,

    No thanks. People like me are already aware of the hardships the Mormons have inflicted upon others. Why buy that book when you can read the real history of what they have done and continue to do.

    Are you aware of Black Hawk War, Battle at Crooked River, Haun's Mill Massacre, Mountain Meadows Massacre...? If you knew what they do, such as try to act like they are one of us when they want something, then you'd understand. BTW, haven't you noticed their missionaries stomping in neighborhoods they usually wouldn't dare go in with the past few years? I think this massive recruitment of any and everyone was to shore up the elections. HeHeHe!

  • Gretchen on January 20, 2012 1:33 PM:

    You're kidding about his more modest upbringing, right? He grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, the extremely wealthy suburb of Detroit where people like his dad, the CEO of the most important corporation in the city, lived. He went to Cranbrook Academy, a very exclusive and expensive private school there. His feet never touched the streets - the limo-driver wouldn't let them.

  • Gretchen on January 20, 2012 1:35 PM:

    Yes, I knew you were kidding, but as a Detroit native had to make the point about how very opulent his upbringing was.

  • Ed Drone on January 20, 2012 1:57 PM:

    He means "Real [Estate] Streets" -- he lives on Boardwalk, having moved up from his humble beginnings on Park Place.


  • g on January 20, 2012 2:13 PM:

    Easy Street -

    Remember the way
    Our sainted mother
    Would sit and croon us
    Her lullaby

    She'd say, kids, there's a place
    That's like no other
    You got to get there before you die
    You don't get there
    By playing from the rule book
    You stack the aces
    You load the dice

    Mother dear
    Oh, we know you're down there listening,
    How can we follow
    Your sweet Advice to...
    Easy street
    Easy street
    Where you sleep till noon
    Yeah, yeah, yeah

    She'd repeat
    Easy street
    Better get there soon.
    Easy street
    Easy street
    Where the rich folks play
    Yeah, yeah, yeah
    Move them feet

    Move them ever-lovin' feet
    To easy street
    When you get there stay

    - from the musical "Annie"

  • schtick on January 20, 2012 2:15 PM:

    Lifelong Dem:
    That violin just might play for Willard. Look at the hardships the Bush clan went through after our government froze granpappy's assets for dealing with the nazis. They became great upstanding citizens worthy of being president.
    gag me with a spoon

    The dems that actually worked for an education and worked to make money are elitists. How DARE they actually work for anything when they should have been born into it?

    What is going on with crapcha? I type in the words and it changes when I haven't touched a thing???

  • LAC on January 20, 2012 2:27 PM:

    Romney is straight up for realz- he was an activist at his country club. Putting green olives stuffed with blue cheese for the martinis? That was him taking it to the man! Valets being allowed to make eye contact with the members? Straight up street, yo!! Don't diss the brotha!!


    Seriously, the man needs to shut up for a few days. He must be tired of the taste of shoe leather in his mouth.