Mitt Romney, as Massachusetts Governor in 2006, refused to distribute his state’s copious emergency funds to Lowell city residents who had lost their homes to “the great Mother’s Day floods of 2006,” as Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce reports:
The right-leaning Lowell Sun was particularly displeased.
We find it inconceivable that Gov. Mitt Romney claims the state can do nothing to help those residents still struggling to rebuild homes and businesses after the May flood. Massachusetts is sitting on millions in unspent emergency funds from Hurricane Katrina and more than $1 billion in cash reserves, yet Romney has failed to even respond to the Lowell delegation’s requests to discuss additional aid for victims. The governor’s spokesman — since Romney can’t be bothered to comment now that the photo opportunities have dried up even though some residents’ basements haven’t — said the state will not consider spending its own money for flood victims until it’s clear how much cash the federal government will give.
A local online news site reported the scene like this:
Crews floated boats down flooded streets to rescue people trapped in their homes, overflowing pipes spewed sewage into streets and rivers and hundreds fled homes and businesses Monday as New England braced for its worst flooding since the 1930s.
The flood waters overwhelmed sewage systems and drowned waste water treatment plants. Burst pipes in Haverhill have been dumping 35 million gallons of waste a day since Sunday into the Merrimack River. And the flood at a regional treatment plant in Lawrence was threatening to shut down the power there, which would send sewage into the Merrimack at a rate of 115 million gallons a day.
“This is a level of crisis which is beyond anything these communities have ever experienced from water in their history,” Gov. Mitt Romney said Monday.
“It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” Romney said.
Romney then went on “Good Morning America” and “described the flooding as ‘almost Biblical’ and said ‘We’re sort of making jokes about Noah and taking two of each kind of animal because we haven’t ever seen rain like this’,” according to Wikipedia.
And then his PR stunt show was over.
Reporting that “abdicating on government flood relief was one of the first steps” Romney took to paint himself as, well, a “severely conservative Governor” — to quote Mitt himself — Esquire’s Pierce, a constituent of then-Governor Romney, adds that Mitt “pretty much had given up his job as governor and was gearing up for the seven-year run at the presidency that will climax, one way or the other, next Tuesday night.”
Imploring readers his Esquire readers to “trust us,” Pierce — whose report is laced with other ugliness about Governor Flip Flop — closes with this intimate assessment:
“We know this guy. There’s a reason why he’s going to lose this state by more than 20 points. The only thing about him that you can depend on is that there’s never any room in the lifeboat for The Help.”
For more local color, consider this from a right-wing local Massachusetts blogger, writing about the flood and Romney’s response, dated May 17, 2006:
Our elected officials are on the front line, and their mettle is on the line now too. We were pleased with first impressions, but all too soon our Republican Massachusetts leaders of choice revealed their feet of clay. We caught Lieutenant Governor Healey saying something to the effect that this sort of thing would be common now, given global warming.
At the same time, the man who would be Leader of the Free World — Oh, sweet Mitt of life, at last I’ve found you? — played a most disagreeable disgrace card on “Good Morning America” with the silken, fawning Diane Sawyer:
“We’re continuing to be very, very careful and going through our neighborhoods, securing them, and making sure there is no looting of any kind,” Romney added.
The remarks puzzled local officials, who reported no incidents of looting in the Bay State, New Hampshire or Maine, and prompted experts to question if Romney was raising red flags for no reason — or for political reasons.
Politics are the way of the world, but without knowing anything more about it, this one left a bad taste in our fiercely independent New England, home-rule mouth. We aren’t like those folks down yonder in New Orleans, our local-pride first response told us. Mitt owes us more respect. Kerry Healey, too. We weren’t born yesterday.
Nor were we.
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