ARBUTUS, Md. — Mitt Romney, who, according to former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. will be the next president of the United States, made a campaign stop this afternoon here in, of all places, Arbutus.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been here before,” Romney said after Ehrlich introduced him as the next president to a packed and boisterous American Legion hall filled with Republicans.
Ehrlich knows all about Arbutus. He grew up in this community of about 20,000 people near BWI Airport. His parents still live here. He knows darn well it’s not pronounced Arbuttus, either. It’s Arbyootos, thank you. He noted that pronunciation to the national press and all its dozens of cameras. Arbyootos.
Romney didn’t appear to have learned much of anything about Arbutus to make small talk with the audience about Arbutus. He also didn’t appear to have learned much about Maryland to make small talk with the audience about Maryland. I don’t recall hearing Romney even utter the word Maryland.
His stump speech, despite being delivered near a giant Maryland flag, could have very well been delivered with similar effect in Peoria. The applause lines had nothing to do with geography. They were about Barack Obama’s attacks on economic freedom, about Obamacare, about loving the country, about creating jobs.
There was no talk, even in the question-and-answer portion, of the big political issues in the state: gay marriage, a Democratic governor looking to raise taxes, environmental concerns about the Chesapeake Bay, the shrinking federal government workforce and so on.
I’m no political analyst, but Romney’s non-geographical performance didn’t surprise me. His Republican rivals don’t seem to be campaigning in Maryland, which holds its primary next week, and that means there’s no local issues to get into spats about.
And let’s face it, Maryland is a rather blue state, having voted consistently for the Democratic presidential candidate in every election since 1992.
Sure, Romney appeared energized by his visit to Arbutus, and he was certainly sweating, but in reality his visit here was sort of like showing up at your office holiday party: You probably don’t like or get along with everybody in the office — or, in today’s case, the whole state — but you have to show up, make an appearance, talk to people who like you, let the company know you really do care. And then leave.
I’d be surprised if we Marylanders see Romney here again anytime soon.