New York Times reporter Ashley Parker was in Las Vegas and made controversy Wednesday over Mitt Romney's appearance at a fundraiser with media mogul and political controversialist Donald Trump. Parker used Trump's "birther" beliefs as an excuse to dredge up old Romney flubs: "Romney, on His Big Day, Finds Himself Upstaged ."
It was supposed to be a day of triumph for Mitt Romney, when he would at last formally claim the Republican presidential nomination with a victory in the Texas primary. And Mr. Romney was to focus attention on an aggressive new attack on President Obama, highlighting the White House’s role in backing failed companies like Solyndra.
Instead, Tuesday was hijacked by Donald J. Trump. Inexplicably to many in his party, Mr. Romney had scheduled an appearance at a fund-raiser in Las Vegas on Tuesday night with Mr. Trump.
And Mr. Trump, ever ready to seize the spotlight and toss rhetorical grenades, played to type in several interviews, repeating his doubts about the president’s Hawaiian birth certificate.
“A lot of people do not think it was an authentic certificate,” Mr. Trump said in a combative interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN. “Now, you won’t report it, Wolf, but many people do not think it was authentic.”
That and other statements left the Romney campaign to fend off questions about the candidate’s views on that long-discredited accusation and whether he was willing to tolerate extreme views for his own political gain.
Parker clumsily segued into old complaints lodged by Democrats during the campaign against Romney.
This is not the first time Mr. Romney has been criticized for not taking a strong enough stance on a controversial issue. In March, he was asked to comment on Sandra Fluke, a law school student who was called a “slut” and a “prostitute” by the radio host Rush Limbaugh after she testified before Congress in favor of employers’ covering birth control for all women. Mr. Romney said of Mr. Limbaugh’s remarks, “It’s not the language I would have used.”
And at a town-hall-style meeting this month, Mr. Romney at first did not offer a public rebuke of a female supporter who stood and said Mr. Obama “should be tried for treason.” He later clarified to reporters on the rope line that he did not agree with the woman’s remarks.
Parker repeated the "extreme" line, which is not how the paper characterized Democrats who accused the Bush administration of either having advance knowledge of the 9-11 attacks or instigating them for political gain.
In Las Vegas on Tuesday, Romney supporters seemed just as surprised at the pairing. Joe Godwin, 69, said he was disappointed that Mr. Romney would appear on stage with Mr. Trump, given his extreme brand of politics. “Trump is a highly negative figure,” Mr. Godwin said. “I don’t see any advantage for Romney to do this.”