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Mitt Romney (born March 12th, 1947) is an American politician, former Governor of Massachusetts and the 2012 U.S. presidential candidate for the Republican party. Since the beginning of primary elections in January, Romney quickly emerged as the frontrunner in the race and officially won the party’s nomination at the Republican National Convention in September 2012. He was defeated by Barack Obama in the presidential election in November of 2012.
MittRomney.com was registered on February 8th, 2002, the same year he presided over the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games of 2002. Romney joined Twitter on June 23rd, 2009 and gained over 360,000 followers in less than three years. His personal Facebook page had more than 1.4 million likes in February 2012.
2008 Republican Presidential Primary
On February 13th, 2007, Romney formally announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president in 2008. His website was relaunched with a new design and several new sections, including the video gallery MittTV, merchandise store MittGear and Romney’s sons’ blog Five Brothers. On February 7th, 2008, two days after John McCain posted strong gains in the Super Tuesday primaries, Romney announced the end of his campaign and endorsed McCain.
2012 Republican Presidential Primary
For more information, read the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary entry.
On June 2nd, 2011, Romney announced that he would seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Romney was able to raise more than any other Republican candidate with $56 million in 2011. For a front-runner candidate, Romney’s poll numbers remained relatively low with only 25% of prospective GOP voters in October of 2011. Romney came in second in the initial 2012 Iowa caucuses on January 3rd, 2012, with only 34 votes behind winner Rick Santorum. The following week, Romney won the New Hampshire primary pulling in 39% of the vote. Romney came in second to New Gingrich in the January 21st South Carolina primary but went on to beat Gingrich in the January 31st Florida primary. During the Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses on March 6th, Romney won six of the ten primaries.
@MittRomney’s Followers Skyrocket
On July 21st, 2012, election-related social media analysis site 140Elect published an article highlighting an unusual spike in Mitt Romney’s Twitter followership, which soared from the average daily gain of 3,000 to 4,000 new followers to well over 90,000 followers per day since July 20th. Although the article didn’t explicitly accuse Romney’s campaign of tempering with Twitter followers, the provided data suggested that there may have been some sort of foul play involved. As shown in the chart below, it appears there has been little correlation between the spike in the number of @MittRomney’s followers over the weekend and the total number of mentions and retweets from the same account. In addition, the media criticism blog Mediate pointed out that many of @MittRomney’s new Twitter followers had no tweets or followers, or others had posted “unintelligble or in another language.”
The article was reblogged by the Daily Dot and BuzzFeed with headlines noting that Romney is being accused of “buying out Twitter followers.” Soon, political blogs from both end of the spectrum, including The Daily Edge, Top Conservative Cat and 2012Twit, began exchanging tweets addressing the accusation, spawning more than 6,000 tweets with the hashtag #MoreFakeMitt in less than 24 hours, according to Topsy’s report. Meanwhile, Romney’s campaign digital director Zac Moffatt rejected accusations that the campaign has been buying followers for Romney, adding that they have reached out to Twitter to further investigate the rapid growth in the Republican candidate’s followership.
Tax Return Theft Allegations
On September 2nd, 2012, an anonymous group of hackers posted a bulletin announcement titled “Romney 1040 Collection” via Pastebin, in which it claimed to have obtained copies of the Republican presidential candidate’s 1040 tax returns after breaking and entering the Tennessee office of PricewaterhouseCooper, the accounting firm that has been handling Romney’s tax returns, on August 25th. The group also asserted that flash drives containing encrypted copies of Romney’s 1040 files had been sent to the Republican and Democratic campaign offices and threatened to publicly release the encryption key on September 28th, unless Romney’s campaign paid the ransom of $1 million in Bitcoins, an online currency that has been known to be difficult to trace.
On September 4th, another post titled “Dear PricewaterhouseCooper LLP” surfaced on Pastebin with a transcript of a ransom e-mail letter that was apparently sent to the London-based accounting firm. In addition to the detailed instruction of how to stop Romney’s tax records from getting exposed, the e-mail also asserted that other interested parties are welcome to compete against the firm and provided a separate Bitcoin address for those who want the documents to be released with a payment of $1 million.
For those that DO want the documents released will have an different address to send to. If $1,000,000 USD is sent to this account below first; then the encryption keys will be made available to the world right away. So this is an equal opportunity for the documents to remain locked away forever or to be exposed before the September 28 deadline.
Who-ever is the winner does not matter to us.
Bitcoin Address to Promote Full Release:
On September 5th, the U.S. Secret Service revealed that it began investigating the alleged theft of Romney’s pre-2010 federal tax records, which have become a key focus of attack points against the candidate during the 2012 Republican presidential race. Along with the Pastebin communique, the news of the investigation was quickly picked up by the Associated Press and featured on a wide range of tech news, internet gossip and political blogs, from Gawker, The Verge and The Daily Dot to Politico, Washington Post and The Huffington Post among others.
On September 21st, Mitt Romney released his tax returns for 2011 in an effort to quell the lasting controversies surrounding his personal financial records. The hundreds of pages of documents revealed that the candidate paid $1.9 million in taxes on $13.69 million in income, mostly from his investments, or 14.1 percent of his income.
47% Remark Controversy
On September 17th, MotherJones released a hidden camera tape of Mitt Romney speaking at a private fundraiser in Florida earlier in May. When asked what his strategy was to win the presidential election, Romney answered by saying that he will focus on earning the trust of taxpaying Americans rather than convincing the 47 percent of the people “who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them.”
“And so my job is not to worry about those people--I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the 5 to 10 percent in the center that are independents that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not, what it looks like.”
The following day, a single topic Tumblr titled We Are the 47 Percent was created as a parody of the We Are the 99 Percent blog, featuring photos of people holding up paper signs playing up Romney’s depiction of whiny freeloaders. Meanwhile on Democratic Underground, forum user Mr. Scorpio shared his satirical commentaries on Romney’s stance on the so-called 47% in a post titled “Fuck You, Mitt.” Romney’s official response to the leak of the camera tape was that it was “not elegantly stated” but did not deny his statements.
“Completely Wrong” in Google Images
On October 5th, Mitt Romney backtracked on his own 47% remark as “completely wrong” during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. In the following days, the presidential candidate’s retraction was covered by news publications and election-related news blogs, which led to a sudden upsurge in the volume of Mitt Romney’s images associated with the keyphrase “completely wrong” (shown below).
The ripple effect of Romney’s retraction in Google Images was initially reported as early as on October 9th and shortly after that, screenshots of image search results pages for “completely wrong” began to circulate on Twitter and Tumblr. On Facebook, Romney’s detractors even urged others to go to Google Image Search and type in the phrase to reinforce the association (shown below).
By October 10th, “completely wrong” had shot up to the third most searched phrase on Google’s Hot Trends list and Mitt Romney’s SEO debacle was inevitably looped back into the election coverage in the news media. While some readers speculated the possibility of a Google bombing campaign behind the phenomenon, a spokesperson for Google later confirmed with ABC News that it was a “natural search result.”
Obama Mentions #Romnesia
During a campaign rally stop in Virginia on October 19th, 2012, President Obama criticized his opponent candidate Mitt Romney’s inconsistent policy stances by using the term “Romnesia,” a portmanteau of the Republican presidential candidate’s last name and amnesia, a medical condition in which one’s memory is lost either partially or in its entirety.
“He’s forgetting what his own positions are, and he’s betting that you will, too. I mean, he’s changing up so much and backtracking and sidestepping – we’ve got to name this condition that he’s going through. I think it’s called ‘Romnesia’. That’s what it’s called. If you come down with a case of Romnesia, and you can’t seem to remember the policies that are still on your website, or the promises you’ve made over the six years you’ve been running for President, here’s the good news: Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions.”
Shortly after President Obama’s mention of the word, the paraphrased version of his quote appeared via his official Twitter account. Within the first 72 hours, the tweet has received more than 8,800 tweets and nearly 950 favorites.
RT if you agree: We don’t need a president with #Romnesia in the White House.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) October 19, 2012
The term is believed to have been coined by blogger Brian Rosman, who wrote a blog post titled “Romnesia” for the Health Care for All Massachusetts website on April 4th, 2011. On Twitter, the term began to pick up momentum following @BreakingNuts’ introduction of the hashtag #Romnesia on March 23rd, 2012. It has been also used in the news media on multiple occasions, including a New York Times editorial titled “The Amnesia Candidate” from April 2012 and a Mother Jones article titled “A Case of Romnesia” in June 2012. The first Urban Dictionary definition of “Romnesia” surfaced on July 19th, 2012, which was later chosen as the Word of the Day on October 20th, the day after its mention during President Obama’s rally speech in virginia.
On election day, Mitt Romney’s Facebook fan page reached an all-time high of 12,135,972 likes by 11:30pm EST. However, following Romney’s concession speech, the page lost more than 50,000 likes over the span of hours on November 10th. The next day, the single serving website Disappearing Romney was established with real-time graphs (shown below) charting the large-scale exodus of his Facebook supporters. On November 12th, the Tumblr blog was featured in an article by Mashable, which noted that Romney’s page was losing 847 fans per hour. Disappearing Romney was subsequently shared on Gawker, the Huffington Post, CNN and Slate, among other news and internet culture sites.
See also: November 14th: #ObamaGifts Parodies
Since embarking on his 2012 presidential campaign, Romney has been characterized in the news media as being socially awkward and unable to relate with other people, particularly the core demographic of Republican voters. On June 6th, 2011, the Twin Cities Star Tribune published an article titled “Mitt Romney, America’s awkward stepdad” claiming that Romney was trying too hard to be “cool.” Satire news site The Onion published an article titled “Mitt Romney’s Goal To Connect With One Voter By The Time This Is All Over” making fun of Romney’s inability to win over voters on October 24th, 2011.On November 23rd, 2011, The Huffington Post published an article titled “Mitt Romney’s Awkward Exchanges With Humans” which featured several awkward videos of Romney interacting with other people. The single serving site MehRomney.com also illustrates the point with a pun on his first name Mitt (shown right).
On December 12th, 2011, Time Magazine ran the cover story “Why Don’t They Like Me?” (above) about Mitt Romney’s inability to connect with certain members of the Republican party. Romney is often characterized as wealthy and out-of-touch in skits on the comedy show Saturday Night Live.
Romney was able to accumulate a large amount of his wealth by working at the asset management company Bain Capital. Romney has been criticized for cutting jobs when Bain bought other companies. On December 19th, 2011, The Daily Kos published a story about Bain Capital cutting jobs under Romney’s management in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Romney’s campaign disclosed that the candidate’s net worth was between $190 million and $250 million on August 12th, 2011.
On October 14th, 2011, a Bad Lip Reading video (shown left) was uploaded featuring with new audio edited over footage of Romney speaking. On February 9th, 2012, the Shit People Say video “Shit Mitt Says” (shown right) was uploaded to YouTube featuring various awkward and strange things Romney has said on camera.
Similar to the Spreading Santorum campaign aimed at fellow GOP candidate Rick Santorum, the campaign Spreading Romney was created to pass around a new definition for the word “romney.” The campaign was reported by the web news site Blogger News on February 11th, 2012.
Parody Pinterest Account
In early February 2012, humorist Eric Spiegelman began a parody Pinterest account for Romney with the handle “MittRomneyGOP.” The site initially contained four separate pinboards, or image collections, titled “Favorite Things,” “Snacks,” “Pet Accessories,” and “Great Deeds.” The site was initially covered on February 8th by Uproxx and on the 9th by the Daily Dot.
When the account caught the attention of Mitt Romney’s campaign team on February 10th, the Pinterest community manager Enid Hwang got in touch with Spiegelman, stating that they felt it was misleading and requested that the username be changed to “fakemittromney.” Spiegelman responded stating that he did not feel comfortable changing the name by saying:
…you’re a publishing entity that’s more or less open to the public, and I can’t in good conscience change my parody at the request of the subject of that parody. It should be obvious to the Romney campaign that nobody sees this as official, and that I am exercising my Free Speech rights in making fun of Gov. Romney’s utter tone-deafness when it comes to matters of privilege and class inequality.
Ten minutes after he sent his response, Hwang went ahead and changed the username of the account anyway. Their email interactions were later published on Gawker and was covered by the Inquistr and the Daily Beast.
“Etch A Sketch” Gaffe
On March 21st, 2012, Romney’s senior campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom appeared on CNN’s Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien and was asked if Romney might be hurt in the general election by going too far to the right during the GOP primary. Fehrnstrom responded that the general campaign is similar to an “Etch A Sketch”, a mechanical drawing toy which can be erased by shaking it. Romney’s critics interpreted this statement as implying that Romney’s political views were fabricated in order to win the nomination and would be altered as soon as the primary election was completed.
“Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”
Shortly after, Rick Santorum’s campaign deputy communications director Matt Beynon tweeted a photo of Rick Santorum holding an Etch A Sketch (shown left) and CBS reporter Rebecca Kaplan tweeted that a Santorum spokeswoman Alice Stewart was handing out mini Etch A Sketch boards outside a Romney campaign event. That evening, the parody Twitter account @MittsEtch-A-Sketch was created, which tweeted support for both sides of rival fandoms (shown right), and Ann Romney appeared on CNN to defend her husband calling Fehrnstrom’s gaffe a “distraction.”
The following day, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled “Etch A Sketch Stock Soars! Thank You Mitt Romney” which reported that share prices had doubled for the Etch A Sketch manufacturers Ohio Art Co. after the Fehrnstrom gaffe. The website “Etch A Sketch Mitt Romney” was launched which featured a photo of an Etch A Sketch board that cycled through contradictory quotes attributed to Mitt Romney drawn on top.
iPhone App Gaffe
On May 29th, 2012, the Romney campaign launched the official iPhone app “With Mitt” on the iTunes store. The free app allowed users to add a variety of pro-Romney slogans like “I’m a Mom For Mitt” and “Obama isn’t working” to their photos and share the edited images on Facebook and Twitter. However, Mitt Romney’s attempt at raising his social media profile did not last long, as it quickly became apparent that one of the 14 banners in the app contained a spelling error (“A Better Amercia”).
The gaffe inspired a series of parody images and tweets mocking the typo while the hashtag #amercia became a trending topic the following morning according to the Twitter analytics site Twee. On May 30th, the “Amercia is With Mitt” Tumblr blog was created, which featured parody images created with the app. The same day, the tech news blog Mashable published a post titled “Amercia! Epic Mitt Romney App Gaffe Goes Viral Online”, including a slideshow of notable Amercia image macro examples. The Romney campaign has since filed an update to the app with corrections.
Little Face Mitt
On August 20th, 2012, the single topic blog “Little Face Mitt” was launched on Tumblr, which features edited photographs in which Romney’s eyes, nose and mouth are drastically reduced in size in comparison to the rest of his head.
On August 21st, Redditor SiliconC submitted a post to the /r/pics subreddit, which included a tiny face photoshop of Romney’s vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan (shown below, left). Within 24 hours, the post received over 14,500 up votes and 2,150 comments, with several Redditors submitting their own photoshopped variations of the Ryan photo (shown below, middle, left).
On August 22nd, the Internet culture blog UpRoxx published a post featuring several edited images from both the “Little Face Mitt” Tumblr and the Paul Ryan photoshop post on Reddit. The same day, Gawker published an article titled “Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan Provide Internet With Hours of Photoshopping Fun”, which included a quote from “Little Face Mitt” creator Reuben Glaser who revealed, “The idea of ‘Little Face Mitt’ is to get people to involuntarily forever see Mitt Romney with a tiny face.”
Lucille and Mitt
On March 7th, 2012, a single topic tumblr named Lucille and Mitt was launched, pairing Mitt Romney quotes with photos of the character Lucille Bluth from the cult TV comedy show Arrested Development. The blog was created by writer Hanna Brooks Olsen and graphic designer J. Adam Brinson as a way to highlight the ridiculousness of certain things Romney has said by juxtaposing his quotes with the over-the-top decadent lifestyle of Bluth’s character. The blog was featured on sites including Uproxx, the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and BlackBook the month it was created. In September 2012, the Atlantic also featured a series of images from the blog.
On May 11th, 2012, an unknown Tumblr user launched a blog titled RomCom2012, as a play on the nickname “rom-com,” used to describe romantic comedy films. The blog features photoshopped movie posters of well-known romantic comedies, replacing the male lead’s face with Mitt Romney’s and a caption applying something from the politician’s life to the movie plot. In September 2012, images from the blog were featured on humor site Uproxx, celebrity site Glittarazzi, and political blogs Politico and ThinkProgress.
Texts From Romney
On September 21st, 2012, Slacktory editor Nick Douglas posted an article titled “Texts from Mitt Romney” featuring a compilation of iPhone-style SMS chat logs written from the perspective of Mitt Romney, exploring a range of gosspips and scandals surrounding the candidate. Douglas’ post was promptly picked up by Huffington Post, The Inquisitir and Newser later that same day.
On November 14th, during a conference call with hundreds of his campaign donors and fund-raisers, Romney attributed Obama’s victory to so-called “gifts” he doled out to certain groups of people including people with incomes between $25,000 and $30,000 a year, Hispanics and African Americans. One of the callers allowed a New York Times reporter to listen in on the call, and details were published on its political news blog the same day. As the story broke, Twitter user and New York Magazine social media editor Stefan Becket suggested using the hashtag #ObamaGifts to share the best things that have come out of Obama’s campaign or time in office. The hashtag was used more than 1000 times that day, with coverage of the tweets on Gawker, the Atlantic, Twitchy, The New Yorker and the Los Angeles Times.
Transition Site Leaked
The day after Romney’s defeat in the presidential election, the political news blog Political Wire published a post titled “Romney’s Transition Site,” featuring several screenshots of Mitt Romney’s “President Elect” transition website prior to its removal. On November 8th, the Internet news blog The Daily Dot published an article titled “What Mitt Romney’s Website Would Have Looked Like,” which described the various transition pages that had since been taken down.
Gas Station Photo
On November 19th, a photograph of Romney pumping gas titled “Mitt Romney at my local gas station.. he looks tired and washed up” was submitted to the /r/pics subreddit, which received 23,700 up votes and 3,900 comments within 20 days. On the following day, Redditor IceBreak submitted an image macro of the photo titled “Emotionally Defeated Romney,” including the caption “How would you like 47% / of my foot up your ass?” (shown below, right). Within the next 20 days, the post received over 15,600 up votes and 700 comments. Also on November 20th, The Daily Dot published an article titled “Redditor’s photo of Mitt Romney pumping gas becomes a meme,” which featured a slideshow of notable image macros using the gas station photo.
Search for Mitt Romney had a small peak in January 2008 before peaking again in January 2012.
The Washington Post – Santorum slams Romney for aide’s Etch A Sketch comments
The Daily Dot – "Hackers hold Mitt Romney’s allegedly stolen tax returns for ransom":www.dailydot.com/politics/mitt-romney-tax-returns-ransom-stolen/
The Atlantic – Mitt Romney’s Not Finished Making Memes: #ObamaGifts