Mitt Romney’s traveling press secretary lost his cool with reporters covering the candidate’s overseas trip. Aide Rick Gorka told reporters to “kiss my ass” and “shove it” after they shouted questions at Romney during his visit to Pilsudski Square, near the Polish Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“Kiss my ass; this is a holy site for the Polish people,” said Gorka to reporters. “Show some respect.” Gorka then told a reporter to “shove it.” The aide later called members of the press to apologize, calling his actions “inappropriate.” Romney has not held a media availability for his traveling press corps since taking three questions outside 10 Downing Street in London last Thursday.
The Politico Arena question for today was: Was this an instance of aggressive reporters overstepping their bounds? Or do presidential candidates need to be more accessible to media outlets?
My take is this:
It’s easy to say there is blame on both sides. And there is. No press aide can ever afford to be rude or obscene in his or her attempts, however frustrating, to get the media to focus on the candidate’s preferred issues. Getting any campaign’s messages out requires a constant dance with the press in a rapacious news cycle always pleading to be fed. When there is no substance, style inevitably becomes the focus of media attention. The right will squeal allegations that it’s all because of the “liberal media,” but really it has more to do with boredom on a slow news day coupled with an inaccessible candidate who becomes more media-shy the more these incidents happen.
All that said, I can’t help but feel sorry for Gorka. He has the impossible task of defining a deliberately indefinable candidate. No wonder Romney keeps stubbing his toe on public discourse. He has no idea who he is, so how can he authentically empathize with others when talking with them? His trifecta of gaffes this week, stretching from London to Jerusalem on a globe hopping trip concocted to show the world he is prepared to lead foreign policy, has made him look like a buffoon once again. If I were Gorka, I’d be uttering all kinds of choice words right now. Apparently he forgot the cardinal rule of keeping his frustration within the confines of the campaign while keeping his public face cheery at all times.