Romney’s Stand-Up Routine

Photograph by AP Photo

Gov. George Romney and his son, Mitt, on May 18, 1964.

Mitt Romney attempted a little parochial humor on a telephone town hall with Wisconsin voters today. He may wish he’d saved it for the late-night crowd at a sparsely attended comedy club.

Romney, in Texas for a fundraiser and to publicly collect the endorsement of Former President George H. W. Bush tomorrow, opened the call by recounting what he called “one of the more humorous” connections he has with the state of Wisconsin. He’s pushing for a win there in the April 3 primary, and this was a chance to reach out to voters in advance of what he said would be a five-day campaign swing in the Badger State.

The story was a knee-slapper about how his father, George Romney — while waging what would be a successful run for governor of Michigan — had an awkward campaign moment. George Romney had the misfortune to be marching in a parade alongside a high school band that kept playing the Wisconsin fight song. His political aides worried the incident might remind Michigan voters of how, as president of the American Motor Corporation, George Romney had shuttered a factory in Michigan while keeping two Wisconsin plants open.

“You can imagine that having closed the factory and moved all the production to Wisconsin was a very sensitive issue” for him, Romney said.

“So every time they would start playing ‘On, Wisconsin, On, Wisconsin,’ my dad’s political people would jump up and down and try to get them to stop,” to avoid reminding Michiganders that he had moved production to Wisconsin, Romney related with a chuckle.

President Barack Obama’s campaign was quick to pounce on the attempted joke as one to add to the list of Romney’s “completely out-of-touch moments.”

An aide e-mailed the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s report about the call, including the anecdote, in a message headlined, “Romney Finds Humor in Michigan Layoffs.”

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