Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman called the 2012 presidential campaign discourse “shameful” and pushed presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney to “stand up to” the more conservative wing of his party on Tuesday.
“We have so many issues that need to be discussed by our candidates, and all we’re getting is name-calling right now,” the Republican said on CNN’s “Starting Point.”
“I have seen some moments where I thought [Mr. Romney] had a freebie” to stand up to the Republican base, she said, citing the audience at a Republican primary debate booing a gay soldier as one example.
Ms. Whitman, New Jersey’s first female governor and a party moderate who also served as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush, said Mr. Romney needs a “Sister Souljah moment” with the GOP base. During the 1992 presidential campaign, then-candidate Bill Clinton pointedly criticized violent lyrics used by black musician Sister Souljah during a speech to a black audience, and was chastised by some black leaders for doing so — though many said the incident ultimately helped him with voters in general election. Since then, the term has come to be applied to politicians who tell a supportive audience something they don’t want to hear.
“I think that that’s what Mitt Romney needs to really send a message that he is going to be the kind of president he sort of says he’s going to be,” Ms. Whitman said.