As the Secret Service looks into possibly threatening comments by rock musician Ted Nugent, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has followed up its non-specific denunciation of “divisive language” by telling NBC News that the campaign “never solicited” Nugent’s endorsement. As NBC News reports, they certainly accepted it, and their brief, lawyerly statement to NBC (without any follow-up) fails to pass the simplest smell test: why, then, was Mitt Romney calling Ted Nugent?
During the Today Show segment, Andrea Mitchell recaps Nugent’s history of violent statements about Barack Obama, his remarks at the NRA conference this past weekend, Romney’s acceptance of Nugent’s endorsement, and the campaign’s earlier statement (which, she pointed out, makes no mention whatsoever of Nugent). She goes on to say that, last night, “the Romney campaign told NBC News that, contrary to Nugent’s claims, they ‘never solicited his endorsement,’ although clearly, they were pleased about it at the time.”
So, what does that mean, exactly? Here’s what isn’t in dispute: Mitt Romney called Ted Nugent, they talked, Nugent demanded a promise from Romney about gun control in exchange for his endorsement, and Romney complied. The Romney campaign also never bothered to correct Nugent before now, nor did they make a peep when former Obama spokesman Bill Burton said Romney had “begged” for Nugent’s endorsement.
The only real question, then, is why the hell else was Mitt Romney calling Ted Nugent? Did he think “sweet poon-Tang” was a refreshing beverage, and called Ted to get the recipe?
The careful phrase “never solicited” leaves open the possibility that Romney called Nugent and said, “So, who you endorsing?” or even “Although I am not soliciting your endorsement, I am ready to listen to your demands.”
As Mitchell points out, it’s a distinction without much of a difference, anyway. Romney definitely accepted it, and nobody from his campaign ever disputed Nugent’s version of events until now, and they technically still have not. They also, it should be noted, have yet to reject that endorsement, solicited or not.
Here’s the clip, from NBC News’ Today Show:
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