Drop The Mitt(s)

Does Romney Believe in Miracles? Or Even the Bruins?

As a continuing service to the polito-hockey community, we’re taking periodic looks at the field of candidates gearing up for 2012 presidential campaigns.  Obama’s failure to attend a single Caps game since arriving in Washington continues to rub a key constituency the wrong way – and many hockey fans may be looking elsewhere for better leadership on this critical issue.

Last week we took a look at hockey fan, former JV high school player, and occasional pick-up game ringer, Tim Pawlenty.  In that exposé, we blew the lid off Gretzky-Gate, TPaw’s past use of a quote he falsely attributed to the Great One, “Skate to where the puck will be,” and how it is widely considered bad strategy by none other than Gordie Howe and Herb Brooks.

The Pawlenty campaign, still reeling from the crisis, has yet to directly address the issue.  Today, we turn to one of TPaw’s more significant challengers and discover another spotty record that may alarm the sport’s fans. 

VP Biden, Romney and Eruzione at a women's hockey game between US and China at the 2010 Olympics

Mitt Romney may lack Pawlenty’s high school time on ice, but in addition to being a pep squad member at the (then all-male) elite Cranbrook School (Go Cranes!) in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, he was also manager of the varsity hockey team. And that counts for something in our book because we know of another pretty cool guy who was also involved in hockey team management (Let’s Go Redhawks!). 

Mitt counts 1980 Miracle on Ice team captain Mike Eruzione, as a supporter. According to a February Politico story about a campaign conference call with of top donors, Mike asked Mitt the question that was on everyone’s mind:

“The source said Mike Eruzione, the former U.S. Olympic hockey player, asked Romney when — not if — he would get in the race, and Romney said an announcement would happen “down the road.””

“Down the road” is this Thursday.  But a day ahead of his formal announcement of his second run for the White House, the former Massachusetts governor may have a possible crisis brewing as he vies for the support of the hockey vote.  During this crucial week for him, there are three converging stories that could cost him dearly with the rink side constituency. And anyone who has a stake in his candidacy, may want to consider adding a seasoned hockey hand to the crisis/rapid response team (suit up Mike!).

Haley Barbour, Michigan Money Man Dick DeVos and then Governor Romney at 2006 Saginaw Spirit game

According to extensive research (deep Google and Factiva mining) conducted by the PuckBuddys’ I-Team, the former Massachusetts chief executive has yet to make a declarative statement on the Boston Bruins’ playoff run or their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since the 1989-1990 season, reached in dramatic fashion last week. Does Mitt love Canada?  Not so much as a single hockey-related tweet is in his timeline going all the way back to the beginning of the B’s historic season  – no comment on the Chara hit, nothing on hot rookie Tyler Seguin, and not a single word on Tim Thomas’ monster season between the pipes.

Beyond Boston and the Bay State, the Bruins’ influence, like other teams in that market, reaches to all corners of New England, including First-in-the Nation New Hampshire, which Mitt now calls home (a $10million, 12 acre, 5,400 sf + out buildings lakeside spread in Wolfeboro), and Granite State voters have long memories.

But not to dump solely on Romney, as best we can tell, other high-profile Bay State politicos in DC have been conspicuously mum on the Bruins’ achievement as well, Barney Frank for instance. But he gets a pass today owing to the fact that he’s yet to discover the gay hockey blog (O’Reilly – take it from here). 

But maybe this is just emblematic of the indifference by Massachusetts’ elected officials in Washington: as far as we can tell, neither of the Bay State’s senators, the hockey-friendly John Kerry or the hockey-friendly during campaign season Scott Brown, have made one of those symbolic championship wagers with either of British Columbia’s two U.S. senators.

Romney’s silence on the SCF however, may fit into a broader pattern of his Bruins apathy. Nowhere in any of the databases that we have access to, can we find a single mention or photo of him ever attending a Bruins’ game during his years as governor. 

Romney presided in the State House (less than a mile from the Garden – a slightly longer motorcade trip than Obama’s to the Booth), from 2003 – 2007, but we can’t seem to find any record of him rooting for the home team there.  If campaign officials can provide any documentation to the contrary, we’ll issue a correction, but inquiries to Romney’s spokesman have gone unanswered.

Reborn: Veteran's Memorial Skating Rink

“All politics is local,” as another Bay State political big wig once said, but is all hockey local, too? It’s close to home that might hurt Romney’s candidacy the most among hockey fans – his suspect record as governor on the renovation of the Veteran’s Memorial Skating Rink in Somerville, Massachusetts. 

We turn to this June, 2006, story in the Somerville Journal of a community rink that had fallen into decline, disrepair and had become a haven for vandals.  But Romney, true to his right-of-center, free-market  ideology (not that there’s anything wrong with that), didn’t want to spend any state money for fixing the neighborhood sheet:

“Poor conditions at the hockey rink have been an ongoing source of contention between the city and Gov. Willard Mitt Romney’s administration. Instead of funding improvements to the rink, Romney has said he’d prefer to sell it to a private contractor, which city officials vehemently oppose.”

The rink was ultimately renovated in 2010 thanks to an innovative state-city partnership, and it now hosts community skates, pick-up games sponsored by the Somerville Police Department, and even a March contest between National Guard teams (Let’s Go Redlegs!).

From the Somerville News:  “Mayor Joseph Curtatone said the grand re-opening of the arena marked the culmination of a seven-year effort by city officials and Somerville’s state legislators to upgrade the state-owned facility, which was targeted for privatization under the Romney administration, and to bring it under local control.”

The last thing Mitt Romney needs this week, on the heels of Memorial Day, is to be seen as indifferent to Vets and first responders. But beyond those hometown heroes, Mitt may also have to answer to Somerville’s hockey moms, dads and even the mites.

Will Mitt speak for the mites?

After the Atlanta > Winnipeg news subsides, the hockey media will certainly be hounding Romney to address these controversies.  Campaign officials may have thought that the issue mostly likely to cause them heartburn was their boss’s move as governor towards statewide universal health coverage; Romneycare.

Since Obamacare, anything smacking of mandates has become so politically radioactive, Mitt’s opponents and detractors have been checking and boarding his past support of this controversial legislative package.  Some may even ask him that if he likes socialized medicine so much, why not run for president of Canada.  That answer is simple – he apparently lacks enough legitimate hockey cred to be taken seriously up there.

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One Response to Drop The Mitt(s)

  1. david says:

    is it me, or has your interest in the nhl dropped off since your beloved washington capitals ch-ch-choked out of the playoffs at the hands of the tampa bay lightning? im kinda of two minds on the finals…. its playoff hockey, so win! but its boston and vancouver so its kinda like seeing kathleen turner naked… yeah shes naked, but who gives a shit?

    ~ cheers…

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