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Much has been made about Republican Mitt Romney's 1950s persona -- his "holy cow" colloquialisms, his Cleaveresque family, his true-blue patriotism ("Gosh, I love America," he answered at a May debate after being asked what he least liked about the country.) Now comes further proof that Romney may be stuck back in 1952 with Biff and Chet and the rest of the Hardy Boys: an unusual 21st century dalliance with Red-bashing.
On several occasions in recent weeks, Romney has attacked Hillary Rodham Clinton by suggesting that her economic ideas are practically taken straight from the Communist Manifesto. The latest episode came on Sunday in Nashua, N.H. "Hillary Clinton just gave a speech the other day about her view on the economy. She said we have been an on-your-own society. She said it's time to get rid of that and replace that with shared responsibility and we're-in-it-together society," Romney told the crowd. "That's out with Adam Smith and in with Karl Marx."
Romney must think he's getting traction out of the Marx line attacking Clinton, because he also used it in Iowa last week, and at a Young Republican convention earlier this month. The Clinton campaign shot back Sunday, with a spokesman charging, "Given how often Romney flip-flops, tomorrow he will be touting his membership in the Communist Party."
But left untouched was the larger question: Since when did Red-bashing return as a form of campaign rhetoric, a full 15 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union? Especially at a time when the last few Communists in Russia have been relegated to getting arrested in obscure rallies, and the biggest threats from Red China today are contaminated toothpaste tubes and lead-painted Thomas the Train toys? And against a candidate who is regarded by many Democrats as an overcautious centrist appeaser?
This much is clear: It's not the first time candidate Romney has fallen for the Karl Marx attack line. Back in 2002, when he was running for Massachusetts governor, his spokesman wondered whether Democratic contender Robert Reich -- secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton -- had called his latest book "Das Kapital."
-- Alec MacGillis
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