For the first time in 40 years…
Rupturing a decades long booster club habit of backing Democrat nominees for president, the Des Moines Register, today endorsed Governor Mitt Romney.
Typically, candidates meet with newspaper editorial boards to answer questions, clarify positions, and allow the board to compare each candidate’s stance on the issues. Governor Romney took the time out of his busy campaign schedule to meet for an hour with the Des Moines Register editorial board on October 9, 2021 - in a barn on a farm near Van Meter, Iowa.
Four years ago, then-candidate Barack Obama received the nod from the Iowa paper. This time, Obama wanted to do things differently. His habit of thinking a phone call - instead of being there in person - kicked in. He thought it would be good enough. That’s what he did. He picked up his phone and gave a half hour’s time to Des Moines Register president and publisher Laura Hollingsworth and Rick Green, editor and vice-president. Later, after the call, Green wrote on his blog:
Oct 23, 2021
Just four days before the Register’s presidential endorsement is released, Laura Hollingsworth and I received a phone call from the president. He was calling from Florida, on the heels of a morning campaign appearance and about 14 hours after his debate with GOP nominee Mitt Romney at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.
The conference call lasted nearly 30 minutes…
Just two weeks before Election Day, the discussion, I believe, would have been valuable to all voters, but especially those in Iowa and around the country who have yet to decide between the incumbent Democrat and his Republican opponent.
Unfortunately, what we discussed was off-the-record. It was a condition, we were told, set by the White House.
We repeatedly –- and politely — have asked Obama 2012 campaign officials in Iowa and Chicago for the same access to the president. I believe it earned serious consideration. But despite at least 28 campaign stops and 11 days in our state, we never could convince his team to carve out a few moments for our editorial board –- in our office, on the trail or even in a barn somewhere in Iowa.
Which takes me back to Monday afternoon’s call from the White House, inviting us to chat with President Obama this morning.
It was a “personal call” to the Register’s publisher and editor, we were told. The specifics of the conversation could not be shared because it was off-the-record.
Of course, we immediately lobbied his campaign staff in Des Moines for a formal, on-the-record call. We were told it was not their decision; it came from the White House. We requested that the White House be asked to reverse course so whatever the president shared with us could be reviewed by voters and our readers.
No reason was given for the unusual condition of keeping it private.
We relented and took the call. How could we not? It’s the leader of the free world on line one.
A letter to the editor, published the next day in the Iowa paper, summed up the thoughts expressed by many:
It’s disturbing that President Obama, who promised the most transparent administration in history, refused to go on the record for his interview with The Des Moines Register’s editorial board. …
In stark contrast to Obama’s secretive style, Mitt Romney gave an hour-long, recorded interview with the Register’s editorial board that was shared online for all to see. That’s how it should be. — Sharon DeMers, Ankeny
That same day (Oct 24), without comment, Team Obama released a transcript of Obama’s phone interview.
Here is audio of Governor Romney’s interview with the Des Moines Register editorial board:
18 days later, the Des Moines Register, the largest newspaper in crucial swing-state Iowa, chose to endorse Mitt Romney!