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[Political Asylum]

Reading the Bay Leaves

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I had a talk with Bay Buchanan on the convention floor Monday. Remember her? She’s Pat Buchanan’s sister. Back in the 1990s, when Pat was leading the torch-and-pitchfork crowd, she was known as his behind-the-scenes fixer, her name frequently mentioned alongside epithets like “dragon lady” and other phrases one can now pull up using the search term “Hillary.” On the floor, Bay was perfectly cordial.

People as deep inside political circles as she is tend to speak in rigid, protected tones. Initially, nothing I asked cracked the rhetorical wall of “Mitt has the opportunity to talk directly to the American people” and “Mitt offers real vision” and “Mitt sees the future as a better place.” But after about ten minutes, she started to loosen up and said that Romney’s Thursday speech was going to be the roll-out of a new Mitt. He would show his personal side, a Mitt 2.0 who can attract better favorability and likability numbers (where Obama is killing him almost two to one). A New New Nixon for the twenty-first century.

Then she said something and scooted right past it, as though something significant had slipped through the wet mortar of her words. She said that this new Mitt was going to try something audacious—to co-opt Obama’s 2008 message, since Obama himself can no longer claim it. “They need to have a sense again that things can change,” she said. “We all hoped with Obama four years ago. People voted for the hope. They wanted that.” We’ll see tomorrow.

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