Mitt Romney “Disses” Amateur Radio – The Rest of the Story

Yesterday, a story made the rounds of Twitter and Google+ (and probably Facebook as well but I personally didn’t see it there) that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney “dissed” amateur radio in an interview.  Here is what Romney said that raised the ire of amateur radio operators:

Host and moderator Natalie Jacobson asked an increasingly-agitated Governor Romney questions about communications interoperability, and communication without commercial power. Romney was next asked by Jacobson, “…so does it come down to ham radio?…”

The Governor replied in a disgusted tone, “No, we don’t need to deal with ham radio operators…”

The only problem is that I don’t think some of those posting this article noticed that it was an old article.  It is 6 years old. It’s datelined 11/16/2005 and clearly refers to Romney as the current Governor of Massachusetts, which he no longer is.  It turns out that Romney changed his mind after this interview and no longer holds the same view.

The first thought I had was not to get angry about his statement, it was to wonder if he still held the position that “we don’t need to deal with ham radio operators.”  The article mentions actions that ARRL, ARES, and RACES officials amongst other such as National Weather Service and Salvation Army officials took afterwards to educate Romney on just what amateur radio could do.  Clearly there was the opportunity for Romney change his mind.

Yesterday afternoon, I traded tweets with Brian Arsenault, N1FIY.  Brian was  involved in the effort to inform Romney and I asked him if he knew whether or not the incident changed Romney’s mind about the usefulness of amateur radio during emergencies:

@KF4LMT I agree. When I read it, I said ‘I was part of the ARRL Field Org that sent him a letter. Did he do it again?’ Nope

@N1FIY Since you have personal knowledge, you might be able to answer my question – Did he change his mind?

@KF4LMT Yes. About 2 weeks after that interview, he said his eyes were opened to recent events where hams proved vital…

Because it was an old article, I thought it was important to go beyond the initial reporting to see what his current position prior to using the information to decide who or who not to vote for. Romney indeed changed his mind. I’m glad that Brian brought up his involvement because it gave me the opportunity to find out.  Everyone is free to make their own judgments but this is not an issue that we as hams still need to hold against Romney when we decide whether or not to vote for him.

18 thoughts on “Mitt Romney “Disses” Amateur Radio – The Rest of the Story

  1. I remember this incident and the responses. It’s amazing what they’ll dig up to turn people against a candidate.

  2. As someone who played a part in this mini-controversy–I believe I was the first to tweet about this post to the EMA website–I feel compelled to add to this story. First, let me say that I’m sorry that I was so quick to pull the trigger on this. I should have noticed that this was a six-year old story. My bad.

    Shortly after tweeting this, N1FIY also tweeted me and told me what he told you. I suggested that we both contact the EMA Section Manager, Phil Temples, K9HI. I did so, saying that now that I knew the whole story, I thought it was unfair that this story remained on the EMA website. At the very least, they should also post that Romney apologized for or retracted his statement.

    K9HI replied, “We went though this retraction business with Alan Pitts, W1AGP at ARRL Hq. during the last presidential election/primary. Alan said he was fielding lots of phone calls and inquiries about it. I pointed out to Alan that even *if* I were to remove the story it’s been archived by all of the major search engines like Google and Yahoo and reprinted by many other non-Amateur Radio web sites already…..There was a very long reply comment/discussion thread that accompanied the original story. It probably *did* mention the “retraction” by his staffer. But the rhetoric was so heated that a decision was made to remove the entire discussion thread.”

    In my opinion, that’s really not a very satisfactory answer. I am not a Romney supporter by any stretch, but it’s really not fair to leave that story up on the EMA website without also printing the retraction/apology.

  3. Thanks for the additional information, Dan. You make an excellent point. It wouldn’t be all that difficult to simply add an update on the same page explaining what happened after the incident and how Romney changed his view.

  4. No government agency wants to rely on ham radio operators for emergency purposes. After all, they are a bunch of amateurs and are more trouble than they are worth. They only come to the realization that they need us when there is no dial tone on the headset. Wayne Talley (KE5VRJ)

    1. Yes he did, as the quote from N1FIY indicates. He changed his mind approximately two weeks after the comments made in this article.

  5. Gee, Romney changed his mind (or what he is saying). I’m shocked. Seriously, I don’t think Romney has ever had an original idea – only those that appear from polling. He is probably even more dangerous than Obama. At least a Rep Congress will oppose Obama on occasion. Where they would rubber stamp an R Pres.

  6. Thank you for the clarification. No matter what our politics, everyone should be given a change to educate themselves. When I read the comment (old or not) I could just hear the frustration- It sounded like a response to inadequate communications, and HAM being the last resort. In other words, why didn’t they fix the original problem? And regardless, it sounds like he got educated, and apologized. It’s an opportunity to educate folks to what we are capable of. And isn’t that part of ARRL’s purpose? To educate. If we go off like rabid dogs (no offense to dogs) it doesn’t make Romney (or anyone else) look bad. It makes US look bad! KB1ULS- Karie

  7. Amazing, after Mr. Romney dicovered the people he offended were actually voters and influential, he changed hi mind! Wow, show the same crappy judgement and the same need to check the wind before he opens his mouth the second time.. I am a republican and I will have to go out and vomit after I vote if he is the nominee!

  8. Would any Governor says that his state would need to rely on ham radio operators. Uhhhh . . NO! Romney/Rubio will wipe the electoral map with the 2008 American Idol champion, Obmatar, the chosen one.

  9. There’s no quote retracting this statement anywhere, no matter what LMT says that N1FIY tweeted (huh?) I could tweet that Romney said we should feed house cats to pythons, but my tweets wouldn’t constitute a factual statement and would only serve to inflame cat owners.

    The statement stands as recorded unless there is a statement from the candidate or his “official” campaign apologizing/retracting.

    “If you ever injected truth into politics you have no politics” – Will Rogers, 1923.

  10. Google is your friend.

    “Dear Don:

    Thank you for following up with me on the responsibility of Ham Radio Operators. The exchange with Natalie Jacobsen was meant to imply that we need to strengthen our emergency response infrastructure, rather than demean the important role I recognize that Ham Radio Operators play around our country. I hope this will clear up any confusion. Again, thank you for contacting me. ”

  11. Personally, this is double talk after the fact and doesn’t really retract what he actually said. In fact, if this is what he really meant – this is what he should have said. His statement was direct and to the point and still stands in my mind.
    Can you imagine a president that doesn’t care for ham radio operators??? What he said in this last statement was clearly damage control but really nothing more – his statement this time is that he recognizes the ham radio operators role they play around the country, but does not say he supports those efforts – only that he recognizes them – big difference guys.

    However, on the other hand, if he feels strengthening the infrastructure using trucking and 800 Mhz systems will fix those issues – then we still may have a chance to prove him wrong.

  12. Mitt Romney is a career politician. Nothing he says has any sort of sincerity and is choreographed to follow the polls. More importantly listen to what he says off the cuff when he is ad-libbing, like the “I like Firing people” comments. It is those moments the truth reveals itself.

  13. Romney is a career politician? Four years as a Governor makes one a career politician.

    Here are the numbers for you folks playing along at home:

    Rick Perry has been in government 26 years
    Ron Paul has been in government for 23 years
    Newt Gingrich has been in government for 20 years
    Jon Huntsman has been in government for 14 years
    Rick Santorum has been in government for 12 years
    Mitt Romney has been in government for 4 years

    Just like Mitt, I also like being able to fire people that don’t provide good service. I fired DirecTV just two weeks ago. It felt good!

  14. Comments on this post are now closed before it turns into a discussion of the merits and faults of the various candidates. Thanks for the replies and opinions on the incident in question!

Comments are closed.