by Cynthia McCabe | October 24, 2012
Viviene Dixon Shim sat in her home in Broward County, Fla., watching the final Presidential debate on Monday night – the one in which GOP hopeful Mitt Romney continued tapdancing through his recently hatched plan to be a moderate – and when it was all over she called foul.
The final straw might have been when Romney, who said we needed to reduce the number of teachers, claimed to love them. Or when Romney, who said we should let Detroit go bankrupt and kill 2 million jobs in the process, claimed to have wanted to save the American auto industry. Or when Romney, who shipped American jobs offshore to China for personal profit, claimed he’d be tough on China.
Dixon Shim heard all of these cynical claims and knew Romney was not the candidate for her when it came to the Presidency of the United States.
“It is becoming very embarrassing,” Dixon Shim, a pharmacy technician and member of Local 1363, said of Romney’s willingness to say anything to get elected. “He was confrontational and every time Obama pointed out certain things he was involved in he came back and said he hadn’t been. None of his plans are specific or defined. I don’t think you can really trust him.”
Across the country, many of her AFSCME sisters and brothers find themselves in agreement on this point. Whether they’re Democrats or Republicans. Whether they’re voting based on the economy, or women’s rights, or national security. In conversations with members across the country – many in states considered crucial for a Presidential victory – they’re unified in opposition to Romney because of his troubling tendency to say whatever he thinks his current audience wants to hear. Whether he really means it or not.
In Detroit, Eula Murray saw the footage of Romney dismissing 47 percent of Americans, so when the candidate, reeling after the tape’s release, changed course and said he was wrong and didn’t mean it, she didn’t believe him. “He’s for big business,” said Murray, a member of Local 62 (AFSCME Council 25). “He has no idea about the middle class and the poor.”
Her fellow AFSCME member Sheila Pennington of Local 1023 in Detroit agreed. “It seems like from day to day he’s changing his opinion depending on who he’s trying to get votes from,” Pennington said. “Once he’s in office we don’t know what he would actually do.”
Perhaps nowhere are AFSCME members more disgusted by Romney’s constant fluctuations than in Ohio, where they and other voters are under a steady barrage of commercials, rally appearances, emails and phone calls. They’ve had plenty of opportunity to observe Romney’s approach.
“He scares me,” says Deaner Baer, a Local 279 (OAPSE) safety aide. “I don’t trust the man. He says things to one crowd and then different things to a different crowd. You know what they say, ‘If his lips are moving, he’s lying.’”
Ohioan Sandy Coutcher isn’t shy about pointing out what troubles her about Romney when she’s talking to coworkers, family and friends. “I talk to them about the way he’s double-talking,” Coutcher, of Local 3794 (Council 8) says. “Mitt comes out and says he’s for the people but we all saw the 47 percent video!”
Shirley Hubbert, a Local 11 (OCSEA) member noticed throughout these final weeks of the campaign that “What he says doesn’t sound credible or sincere.”
Joan Markusic, a school bus driver with Local 276 (OAPSE) in Columbus, believes Romney “has to really work to relate to the average person. He looks very uncomfortable.” She notes that there’s a presumed arrogance in Romney’s attempts to tell voters he didn’t say what he’s previously said. “He thinks that we’re illiterate and that we don’t read what he’s said and compare it to what he’s saying now.”
And in what should be a chilling cautionary note for Romney’s bid for the White House – a bid AFSCME members nationwide are working tirelessly to end with the re-election of Pres. Barack Obama – Markusic added, “I think he underestimates us.”