Back in 2002, Mitt Romney welcomed francophone volunteers to the Salt City Olympics with a friendly introductory video he recorded in French. It's "an incredible experience in your life," said Romney, who spent more than two years in France as a Mormon missionary in the 1960s. "The kind that you live only once."
It's been years since freedom fries and freedom toast were items on the menu at House of Representatives cafes, and bumper stickers proclaiming "Iraq first, France next!" long ago went out of fashion. But AmericanLP, a new, self-identified "progressive" SuperPAC, is betting that the little video message was a blunder.
In a new ad the group is circulating around the internet and running on MSNBC, CNBC, and Bloomberg TV this week, the clip of Romney speaking French is mock-subtitled with a string of past comments -- that he has since retracted -- on topics including abortion, climate change, and immigration.
The main purpose of the video, according to a press release, is to "mock Mitt Romney and the current state of the Republican Party." Romney, according to AmericanLP founder T.J. Walker, is "the strongest Republican nominee -- the person most likely to beat Barack Obama in 2012 -- primarily because he's not crazy, he's not a drooling fanatic the way seemingly all the other Republican candidates are."
The ad also aims to deliver "payback for Republicans mocking John Kerry for his French-speaking abilities in ads" in the 2004 campaign, when Republicans tried to depict Kerry as an elitist who was out of touch with "regular Americans" -- a point they drove home by highlighting his ability to speak French and proclaiming that he "looks French."