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Is Mitt Romney pondering The End?

As his chartered 737 jet flew high over the snowy prairies this weekend, Mitt Romney did something he hardly ever does.

He walked from the first-class section of the plane where candidates and senior staff typically sit on these seemingly endless campaign flights back into the messy economy section where the press corps covering the candidate resides. In fact, he did it several times.

Romney was, of course, immediately surrounded by reporters like The Times' Seema Mehta with notebooks and tape recorders, ready to....

absorb his every word. And the candidate just chatted for a while. Kind of shared his thoughts. Answered some questions.

Now, that may seem insignificant. But on a presidential campaign, especially one where the buttoned-down candidate very rarely chooses to mingle like that, nothing happens by chance.

Romney's campaign is in trouble. Deep trouble. He knows it. His staff knows it. And so does his chief rival Sen. John McCain, who's gonna try to put Romney away with a bunch of big wins this Super Tuesday, when about half of the GOP delegates necessary for the nomination are chosen. After losing Iowa, suddenly opening up to the press worked for the wounded Sen. Hillary Clinton just before her big New Hampshire win.

Despite all the grim economic news that should be dominating the campaign, benefiting millionaire businessman Romney, the economy expert, as it did for his big Michigan win, McCain has skillfully changed the main subject to the Iraq war, his area of expertise and prominence.

At the GOP debate the other night McCain got Romney into a back-and-forth and back-and-forth about whether Romney once said he actually favored a timed troop withdrawal or not. As if such parsing really matters.

It was beautiful politics, like a two-bank shot in pool. He got Romney down and dirty denying he ever had proposed a withdrawal and, not accidentally, reminding people of the former governor's reputation for flip-flops. And simultaneously reminding Republicans of McCain's military experience and courage in standing by the military surge, now succeeding. And also wasting Romney's valuable talking time off of his own messages. 

The fact is, in a few days Romney's campaign could be dead. Over. Done. After raising $90 million -- $35.5 million of it his own dough -- and spending most of that, the former Massachusetts governor with the 38-year marriage and beautiful all-American family has very little politically to show for it.

Wins in Nevada, Wyoming, Maine, Michigan, three of them minor. Defeats in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, all of them major. And he lost almost 24 hours attending the Saturday Salt Lake City funeral of the Mormon church's president.

Romney said some hopeful things during his airplane chats. Conservative pundits and leaders, who've been all over the place like Cub Scouts when the pack leader leaves the room, are starting to jell behind Romney as the best conservative alternative to McCain. It may be too little too late. And Mike Huckabee is still around to split the true conservative vote and help McCain.

But Romney sounded hopeful. “I don’t think our party wants to take as dramatic a departure from the house that Reagan built as that which Sen. McCain represents,” he said.

Romney's overall tone in those airplane chats did not sound like someone anticipating a resounding victory. He did decide to squeeze in one more visit to California, tonight in Long Beach. But Romney didn't predict anything. Instead he said he would continue his campaign beyond Feb. 5, which is pretty much what a candidate has to say up until Feb. 6.

"Looking at the numbers of delegates and the numbers of states," Romney said, "I don’t think somebody is going to walk away with the needed numbers. So it goes on well beyond Tuesday. I haven’t looked thoroughly at a calendar beyond Tuesday, but I know there is one. I intend to keep on battling. That’s my plan." Remember that word "plan."

And think about what he said. You're running a national campaign for a year and you say you intend to keep on doing so, but you haven't thought thoroughly about Wednesday? Sounds an awful lot like someone who thinks something decisive will happen Tuesday.

Wasn't it John Edwards on the Democratic side who just the other day vowed to campaign right up to the summer convention, shortly before he flew to New Orleans and quit? Or Rudy Giuliani vowing last Monday to attend Wednesday's GOP debate no matter the Tuesday Florida results? Giuliani did attend the debate but not to debate, just to quit and endorse his pal McCain.

The day after his disappointing loss in Florida Romney said he got $374,000 in online contributions compared with the usual day's take of $50,000, which sounds encouraging. In answer to a question Romney said he and his wife Ann had set a maximum limit to the personal funds they'd contribute to his campaign, though he naturally declined to reveal that sum.

Then Romney revealed, after all, that he had thought a little about the calendar after Super Tuesday. He's scheduled a complete campaign staff and budget review for Wednesday. He could be letting some people go, not a hopeful sign for the savior of the Salt Lake City Olympics.

"We had a big staff in Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire," he explained. "That’s a much larger staff than you have as you go on to these subsequent primaries. So who are the people needed, where are we going to need them, what’s the campaign budget going to look like?”

At a news conference after landing in Minneapolis, Romney was asked about that statement. "We don't have any plans to change our staff size," he said. "Plans" again.

That was probably true when he said it, which was Saturday. We'll see what the "plans" are come Wednesday.

--Andrew Malcolm

 
Comments () | Archives (27)

The comments to this entry are closed.

I hope your speculation is on the mark; we'll know by Wednesday morning, perhaps.

In my mind, there are precious few differences between Romney, McCain and Clinton. All favor military intervention around the world, erosion of civil liberties, liberal spending and a huge tax burden.

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
- Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father

Gov. Mike Huckabee is the best person running for President. He is the true conservative.

Gov. Mike Huckabee is the best person running for President. He is the true conservative.

Mitt’s electable

Mitt is the DNC’s nightmare; the DNC has issued 99 press releases on Mitt. McCain’s the favorite of the Trial Lawyers’ lobby, and advocates for open-borders. Mitt has more Republican votes (i.e., excluding independents) than any other candidate.

Mitt Romney has the right qualifications (the only one with non-governmental (Bain, Olympics) leadership experience, a deep-seated faith, a vision for this country's future, and an exemplary personal and family life. He has won most of the GOP debates.

Mitt has the organizational skills to run a campaign in the general election and run the country. McCain, Hillary or Obama have never even run a lemonade stand. Mitt would appeal to the Independents and some Democrats for his unique qualifications to lead our country in these times of economic uncertainty.

It's critical to appreciate the pivotal role that our own border security plays in our "war against terrorism", keeping in mind that "Amnesty" is anathema to border security. A Nation without enforceable borders will not long survive as a Nation. Mitt Romney is exceedingly strong on each of these principles; while his opponent, John McCain, ( who conducted himself like a petulant child in the recent Republican debate ) has proven that illegal immigration is an issue on which he can NOT be trusted. Don't be misled by McCain's "Clintonian-Lies" concerning Romney's record.

Greg Neubeck

Hang on Mitt!!
TEXAS FOR ROMNEY!!

Looks like Ron Paul is the only candidate that's going to have enough money to finish this thing. How Ironic!

The reason Romney has had to raise and spend the most money is because the media doesn't give him favorable coverage. He has to spend to offset the media bias. It is his own money and he served in Mass without taking a salary. I hope the American people can see they are being brian washed by the media and chose to make up their own minds. Study the issues. If McCain is elected God help our economy.

Mitt Romney has a massive opportunity to pick up more conservative votes IF he challenges McCain and the Democrats directly on climate change - see our piece on this today at the top of www.canadafreepress.com .

Tom

No, Governor Mitt Romney is CHAMPION OF THE HEART AND SOUL OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. Conservative Republicans detest McCain and WILL NOT VOTE FOR HIM REGARDLESS . Governor Romney has not been treated fairly by the media, but his grass roots support is surging across the nation!

Mike Huckabee doesn't stand a chance of even being elected dog catcher. The only role he now plays is to divide the Republican vote and basically hand the nomination to McCain. Of course Christians are the main reason this is happening. It'll be interesting to hear them whine if McCain does indeed get the nod. They will end up with the in your face angry McCain instead of Romney who actually has many of the personal character virtues that Christians supposedly look for in a candidate. How ironic...

Governor Mitt Romney is the ONLY CANDIDATE with the ECONOMIC EXPERTISE to rescue our faltering economy. A vote for Gov. Romney is an intelligent vote.

Romney's decision to give himself brain-salad-surgery on all his previous positions will go down as one of the greatest, political miscalculations of this cycle. For, as the campaign got about 1 year out from Election Day, the economic data turned hard, and meant the country was looking not for right-wing garbage, but, competancy. A moderate Romney running on a theme of management expertise is probably the only message the GOP could use this year to counter the Obama phenomenon.

Amazing.

Obama will be the next President.

Romney will still be in it on Wednesday, and a new national poll released by ABC has Romney within 3% NATIONALLY of McCain, a MAJOR shift that could continue into tomorrow. In other words, Romney could still WIN Super Tuesday.

His extraordinary win in Maine over the weekend should also help. He beat McCain 53% to 21%.

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/politics/national_elections&id=5934283

Romney seems to be doing just fine. He has a good to very good possibility of winning California and several other states on Tuesday. He won Michigan, Nevada, Wyoming, and Maine, also finished strongly in 3 other states. That sounds like he's doing really well. Only about 5 delegates are currently the difference between Romney and JM. As for those endless natl media polls naming who the leaders are, they are innacurate much of the time. I would give Romney a very good chance of winning quite a few states and garnering several key delegates to his tally tomorrow.


McCain isn't conservative, please see McCain-Feingold and his Amnesty Bill. Mitt Romney isn't conservative, please look at his record on gun control and social welfare programs. Mike Huckabee isn't conservative, please see his record on taxes.

The is only one conservative still running in this race. His record is perfect on taxes (never once voted to increase them), perfect on 2nd amendment rights (not one vote to restrict them), perfect on abortion, and perfect on spending.

Please vote for a conservative tomorrow.

Ron Paul 2008.

We have heard a lot of feedback from Romney supporters all over the country that feel like they are not getting the real picture about Governor Romney’s chances of winning the Republican nomination for President of the United States. Many people say that the information they do receive always paints a picture of Governor Romney as losing this race. You are entitled to know how Governor Romney is truly doing in this race. PLEASE FORWARD this information on to friends and family and help get the word out about the truth about Governor Romney’s campaign!

The TRUTH is this: Governor Romney CAN and SHOULD win the Republican nomination for President of the United States. This is a two-man race between Governor Romney and John McCain and Governor Romney is literally only a few points/delegates behind! Senator McCain would like everyone to believe that somehow Governor Romney is too far behind to ever catch up. That is NOT true. We need to rally behind Governor Romney, because only a slight increase in support among conservatives is all that’s needed to tip the scales in favor of Governor Romney and conservative change!

People shouldn’t think that McCain has this rapped up. They need to understand the tremendous support that Governor Romney already has. Consider the following:

1) Governor Romney has led for most of this race and is still positioned well to win the nomination! Until recently Governor Romney has handily led the delegate count. Though he is currently in second place in the delegate count since the Florida Primary, by CNN’s count Governor Romney has 6% of the support he needs to win and John McCain ONLY HAS 8%. Translation = Governor Romney is not trailing far behind; in reality, he is right on McCain’s heels and is well-positioned to succeed in the upcoming primaries because he is the true conservative.

2) Governor Romney is the True Conservative in this race. Governor Romney supported the Bush Tax Cuts and supports making them permanent, he supports appointing conservative judges and justices like John Roberts and Samuel Alito, and he will confront and defeat radical Islamic Jihad, end our energy dependence on foreign oil, curb federal spending, and sustain traditional American values. But don’t just take my word for it.

3) True conservative thinkers all support Governor Romney. For a small sampling, consider the following sources:

- Michael Reagan, son of President Ronal Reagan:
http://www.townhall.com/Columnists/MichaelReagan/2008/01/31/john_mccain_hates_me

- Mark Levin:
http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NDEzMDYzZjBkMDNhYjk0ZjdhZmJlZWNkMWQ1NjI4MGI=

- Sean Hannity: "I'll tell you right now, and I've not announced this, but I will be voting for Mitt Romney in this campaign. It's the first time I've stated it publicly. I'll state it now." ("Sean Hannity Radio Show," 1/31/08.)

- Laura Ingraham: "All right, I'm going to see your endorsement and raise you an announcement: February 12th is the big D.C. primary, I'm pulling the lever for Mitt Romney. No doubt about it. No hesitation." ("The Laura Ingraham Show," 2/1/08)

- Lars Larson: "It's time for the GOP to pick a real Republican standard bearer. I've been keeping my powder dry on this question for months till I had the chance to talk to all of the potential nominees. I've done that now, and I'm left with only one conclusion. Governor Mitt Romney is the best choice for 2008." ("The Lars Larson Show," 2/1/08)

4) Governor Romney has National Support: Listed at the bottom of this email are just some of the additional names of the endorsements of Governor Romney from elected officials, national figures and several publications and newspapers. (Feel free to add yours as well when you forward this on!)

5) Governor Romney has tremendous financial support, from people just like you. Not including ANY of Governor Romney’s personal contributions to his campaign, Governor Romney’s campaign has raised more money than any candidate in the history of the Republican Party! He has raised roughly $20 million more than John McCain thus far. And that financial support remains strong; in fact, the day after placing second in the New Hampshire primary—what some were calling a “big loss” to McCain—Governor Romney held a fundraiser and raised $5 million in one day. By comparison, the democrat winner in NH, Hillary Clinton, also held a fundraiser that day and raised only $700,000. This relates directly to his ability to stay the course and beat the Democrat nominee in November.

6) Governor Romney is the most electable Republican because he can fight the fight. I just mentioned money raised. Money will mean a lot in the coming months! John McCain is currently spending as much money as he brings in and is $4.5 million in debt. The Democrats have raised hundreds of millions of dollars and if Senator McCain becomes the nominee, he will have no money with which to compete with the Democrats. The Democrats will bury him with the sheer size of their war chests. He CANNOT compete with them financially.

7) Senator McCain CANNOT beat the Democrats. You cannot beat the Democrats by acting like a Democrat. John McCain has sided with the Democrats on issues from supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants, attacking the 1st Amendment with campaign finance reform, opposing drilling for oil in ANWR to reduce our reliance on foreign oil, and he voted TWICE against the Bush tax cuts. John McCain was reported to have considered running as John Kerry’s running mate in 2004. You can’t beat Democrats at their game, you need someone who talks AND acts like a true Republican leader. That is clearly not John McCain; that person is Governor Romney.

We need to unite NOW behind Governor Romney. People ought not to vote for John McCain simply because they aren’t given all the information about how strong Governor Romney is as a candidate. PLEASE FORWARD this on so that those who believe in having a strong military, and a strong economy, and strong families know that Governor Romney CAN win this election.

Governor Romney is as strong as ever in this race. And with all of us united behind true conservative principles, Governor Romney WILL win. Please forward this email on and vote for Governor Mitt Romney.

Best regards,

Trent

Governor Romney Endorsements (Feel free to add your endorsement at the bottom)
Governor Matt Blunt (Mo.)
Lt. Gov. Jim Risch (Idaho)
Brig. Gen. Thomas R. Mikolajcik
Fmr. Governor Kenny Guinn (Nev.)
Fmr.Gov. Robert Ehrlich (Maine)
Gary Marx - Dir. Judicial Confirmation Network
James Bopp Jr. - Legal counsel for the National Right to Life Committee
Jay Sekulow - Chief Counsel American Center for Law and Justice
Joe Earle - Director of Outreach Iowa Christian Alliance
Attorney General John Suthers (Col.)
Rep. Ander Crenshaw (Fla.)
Rep. Bill Shuster (Pa.)
Rep. Brian Bilbray (Calif.)
Rep. Chris Cannon (Utah)
Rep. Connie Mack IV (Fla.)
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.)
Rep. Dave Camp (Mich.)
Rep. Dennis Hastert (Ill.)
Rep. Ed Whitfield (Ky.)
Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (Fla.)
Rep. Hal Rogers (Ky.)
Rep. Howard McKeon (Calif.)
Rep. Jack Kingston (Ga.)
Rep. Jim McCrery (La.)
Rep. Joe Knollenberg (Mich.)
Rep. John Campbell (Calif.)
Rep. John Carter (Texas)
Rep. Kay Granger (Texas)
Rep. Lamar Smith (Texas)
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (Ga.)
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.)
Rep. Mike Conaway (Texas)
Rep. Mike Rogers (Ala.)
Rep. Mike Simpson (Idaho)
Rep. Pete Hoekstra (Mich.)
Rep. Phil Gingrey (Ga.)
Rep. Ralph Regula (Ohio)
Rep. Robert Aderholt (Ala.)
Rep. Rodney Alexander (La.)
Rep. Ron Lewis (Ky.)
Rep. Tom Feeney (Fla.)
Rep. Tom Petri (Wis.)
Rep. Tom Price (Ga.)
Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.)
Rep. Vernon Ehlers (Mich.)
Rep. Virginia Foxx (N.C.)
Rep. Wally Herger (Calif.)
Sen. Bob Bennett (Utah)
Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.)
Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.)
Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah)
Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.)
Sen. Wayne Allard (Colo.)
Dorothy Bush Koch - sister of Jeb & President George Bush (Tex.)
Neil Bush - brother of the President
Dr. John Wilke - Chair Right to Life Committee
The National Review
The Daily Nonpareil (IA)
The Times-Republican (IA)
Sioux City Journal (IA)
The Grand Rapids Press (MI)
The Oakland Press (MI)
Las Vegas Review Journal (NV)
Reno Gazette-Journal (NV)
Elko Daily Free Press (NV)
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
Hartford Courant (CT)
Salt Lake Tribune (UT)
Trent Christensen (MA)
Frank Miller (GA)

The Base is Beginning to Rally

In addition to many high profile talk show conservatives, many evangelical leaders are also rallying for Mitt and realizing that he is the best face to represent the party. Here are a few great examples of their thinking:

Reverend Rob Shenck: "After careful and prayerful consideration, I have concluded that an evangelical vote for Mike Huckabee is a vote for John McCain, and a vote for John McCain will be a disaster for this country. Let me explain. It's clear to me and many others that Mike Huckabee is not broadening his appeal enough to win the primary."

John Schroeder of Article 6 Blog: "The conservative voice in the Republican party is at stake - everybody agrees on that, and Evangelicals are the energy, motivator, and banner carrier for that voice. Conservatives lose and Evangelicals are on the bench, if they are in the stadium at all. In other words, we stand on the precipice I feared from the beginning. The current electoral calculus is such that a vote for Mitt Romney is the only way to preserve that voice."

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson: "Love of God, family and country are the most important values in my life. All are under attack in America as never before. I believe that Governor Romney, though not without flaws in his record, is a decent, highly capable man who believes in these same values."

While I support Dr. Paul, reports of Romney's demise may be premature and exaggerated. Pure finances make this a two-way race between Romney and Dr. Paul. Remember that McCain has sold his soul to a bank for $5M to keep running, is hardly a conservative (look at this personal and political record and explain how those are!), and he has a big liability in his temper, not to mention his own ignorance on economic and domestic issues. Huckabee is still hanging around by by a fraying thread, and he is the most likely to be gone after tomorrow.

Dr. Paul landed a bunch of state delegates in ME (who then choose the national delegates for ME at their state convention, contrary to erroneous MSM reports!) and has been quietly building the delegate levels needed to surprise a lot of people once the state conventions actually happen. Of course, since the national media is blacking out Dr. Paul since he scares the bejeebus out of them, nobody mentions it (Top of the Ticker exlcuded from this as they actually are pretty fair to him).

There will be no landslide for McCain tommorow, nor will he "put away" Romney.

John McCain is NOT going to walk away with Super Tuesday--he's not even going to walk away with California. And it's ALL HIS OWN FAULT.

I had every intention, at the beginning of this race, of voting for John McCain. I was well aware of who Mitt Romney was--I grew up in Utah, my dad was an Olympics volunteer, I even know people who worked with Romney on the Olympics and they have nothing be praise for the guy. Nonetheless, I questioned whether running Massachusetts for 4 years was sufficient experience to be running the country.

Then John McCain opened his big fat mouth during the debates.

And I'm sorry, but his constant harping on his military background, no matter what the question is, has convinced me that he doesn't have the BREADTH of vision to be president. John McCain will see every single decision that needs to be made thru the lens of a soldier under fire. McCain hasn't even begun to address the truly critcal issue facing the federal government at this point in time--the pending BANKRUPTCY OF SOCIAL SECURITY.

In fact, Romney's the only candidate out there who's done more than give it a cursory mention.

Everytime McCain gets pressured on something, he turns into this extremely peevish old man, scolding and ranting about how HE did everyting that nobody else would do. And while he's done some very good work re: the surge and calling a spade a spade in terms of spending, he's ALSO done been part of some major faux pas, conservatively speaking--his little collaboration with Darth Kennedy on that abortion of an amnesty bill is just the LATEST case of his being on the wrong side of the street as far as I'm concerned.

No, McCain has a lot of 'splaining to do with to the conservative base, and his "I'm the grandpa, I know best, don't question me" attitude whenever he's been legitimately tasked on those issues has convinced me that while he might have been a far better candidate then GWB 8 years ago, he's past it at this point in time.

So why Romney?

Because he hasn't really lost his temper throughout this whole process.

He's gotten a little forceful more than once, but he's never once behaved as if he were about to ball up his fist and punch someone.

As for his supposed record of "flip-flopping"--well, frankly, I think it's TIME for a president who's prepared to re-evaluate his positions when new information comes to light--and who's prepared to publicly CHANGE his position if he discovers he's been wrong or misled.

And he's the only one I think that's true of, on EITHER side of the race.

And that's why I'll be voting for Mitt Romney tomorrow.

Although the fact that he's never made any sort of public issue over this--http://confessionsofapoliticaljunkie.blogspot.com/2007/11/how-often-do-candidates-do-stuff-like.html --little act of kindness during the aftermath of the fires DOES make me feel a whole lot better about casting that vote than I might have before.

GO MITT ROMNEY!!! WE DON'T NEED A WATERED DOWN VERSION OF A CONSERVATIVE (McCAIN) KEEP THE PARTY STRONG AND CONSERVATIVE.

I watched the debates and think that Mitt will be the best for our country. He has a true honest love for our USA, and he talks as if he will do whatever it takes to make America better. And isn't that why we want a good, honest, caring, objective, with no favors hands out friends, but people that will move this country in the right path to make us stronger,safer,in this ever changing world.Mitt even God will vote for you.

I'm so sick of Mitt Romney's ageist tactics, the latest being his statement that Bob Dole is the last person he'd want to be supported by. (!) This follows tons of posts by his minions invoking age. Ronald Reagan was 78 when he left office, and McCain is 71 and could probably go eight rounds in the ring if he had to. You should be ashamed of yourself, Mr. R.

I'm all for Mitt. If he does lose the nomination, so will McCain. McCain has alienated the conservatives so much that we can't be persuaded to vote for him.

I'm usually an optimist, but I think that the USA is heading for hard times. We are beginning a nose dive and won't be able to pull out without Romney at the controls. This cloud may have a silver lining.

Maybe it is better to let the Democrat politicians sink with the ship. Meanwhile, the conservatives can rally and spread true principles of conservatism.

The media can't always persuade people that the outlook is rosy when the American people are living in a hellhole. We MUST be ready to share conservative principles.

In the meantime, I don't think it is wise to let the nation go down that path. Vote for Romney, or don't say I didn't warn you.

If we do not fix the Economy we will not have the ability to fight the war on terror the way it will need to be fought. The only person running for President on either side that can bring this economy back it Mitt Romney. This county needs Mitt Romney

I hope Mitt does not get out of the race. Eli Manning and the Giants prove the games not over until the bitter end.

Go Mitt!
He is the man for our future.

Boy, you guys at the Times just don't stop, do you? I mean, stop slanting the news against Hillary. "With No Winners, the Fight Goes On."

Hello, we're in California, where she won, and very handily in L A County. This paper feeling compelled to endorse a presidential candidate for the first time since 72, seems awfully curious, given the Chicago Tribune's takeover of the Times and the sudden obsession with endorsing the candidate from Chicago. Is the Times trying to distract from Obama's dealings with a certain Chicago slumlord/ tax evader? Why doesn't the Times and its editorial writers, divulge their assets and conflicts of interest? Does this have anything to do with the firing of the latest Editor in Chief with a Conscience? Will the Times "Blog Editor" delete this comment?


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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