Philip Maddocks: Romney campaign announces plans for a new gaffe app

Philip Maddocks, GateHouse News Service

Hailing it as a breakthrough in “reverse campaigning,” advisers to Mitt Romney announced the release of a mobile app that will alert users to when and how the Republican presidential candidate will commit his next gaffe.

Known as “OhMittNotAgain,” the new software will offer alerts on Mr. Romney’s choice of blunder before a media announcement is made.

According to the App Store, smartphone users need only “download the app, and when Mitt decides on his next slip-up, you’ll get an exclusive notification from the campaign letting you in on the exciting news before the press and just about everyone else (except maybe Ann — and Seamus, may he rest in peace).”

“We saw all the attention and press Mitt was getting from his mess-ups overseas and we decided that the time is right, that this is something we should capitalize on,” said Zac Moffatt, the Romney campaign’s digital director.

Mr. Moffatt pointed out that even as Mr. Romney’s trip abroad has sparked a mix of indignation, puzzlement, and mocking derision, the gaffe-strewn international voyage has also kept the candidate in the headlines in a way that almost nothing else could have.

“Mitt has done his job,” said Mr. Moffatt. “Now it’s time for us to tie our shoelaces together, leave our flies unzipped and go to work and make sure our candidate’s efforts don’t go for naught.”

Having watched Mr. Romney’s mind-boggling missteps take London by storm, sweeping the Olympic Games from the headlines and making the Republican presidential contender the talk of the town, both here and abroad, Mr. Moffatt thinks there is no limit to the interest and fascination with the candidate’s capacity for the unsuitable.

“By the time Mitt got to Israel, people couldn’t wait to hear what impolitic thing he would say or do next,” Mr. Moffatt said. “This is not something you can teach. It’s a gift, one that our opponent doesn’t seem to have. So we would be foolish not to try to use it to our advantage.”

Not everyone in the GOP seems thrilled with the Romney campaign’s plan to play up their leader’s indelicate words and deeds.

Dick Cheney, the former vice president, called the OhMitt app “a mistake” during an interview on ABC News and said he was starting to wonder if Mr. Romney was even qualified “to run one of Sarah Palin’s reality shows.”

Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee who ran against President Obama with Ms. Palin as his running mate, said on “Fox & Friends,” “Look, I respect the vice president. Mr. Cheney and I had strong disagreements as to whether we should torture people or not and whether either of us should watch ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska.’ But I don’t think we disagree on what Mitt Romney is inflicting on people everywhere and on our party.”

But the Romney campaign is showing no signs that it intends to reign in its gaffes or its new app.

“Mr. Leader,” Mr. Romney said in what appeared to be a reference to Mr. Cheney, “it’s time to give it a rest.”

Though Mr. Romney has yet to announce his next error, his campaign is promising that when the Republican presidential candidate does settle on his next means of insulting a world leader, a nation, or the downtrodden, users of the OhMitt app will learn of the impertinence first, receiving the information through push notifications on their Android or iOS device.

“This is the first official way to learn what tin-eared utterance Mitt will deliver next, “ Mr. Moffatt said. “You won’t have to wait for a network interview or an unscripted moment on the campaign trail to find out what stupefying sound bite we will be trying to defend over the next week.”

And users of the app, he added, will be able to instantly place an order for mugs, hats, T-shirts, car elevators, and dressage horses emblazoned with the candidate’s latest misstatement.

“It doesn’t get any more tactless than that,” he said.

Philip Maddocks is a political satire columnist for GateHouse News Service. He can be reached at