With just about a month to go in the presidential campaign, supporters of both sides are ramping up their attacks in order to paint each candidate as villainous. Take for example the latest ad by the AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees) union, which features Mitt Romney’s trash collector. The ad purports to be a bombshell: Mitt Romney is so heartless he doesn’t understand the regular people like garbage men — they’re “invisible” to Romney and you can bet he doesn’t care about them.
Sounds big, right? Possibly damning, right? Maybe, if it weren’t for the little facts we found.
First, here’s the ad featuring Richard Hayes, who picks up the trash from Romney’s La Jolla, California, home. “Richard is a City of San Diego sanitation worker whose route includes Mitt Romney’s $12 million oceanfront villa in La Jolla, Calif,” the video’s description says. “This is his story”:
“This is the first in a series of videos intended to be part campaign attack, part online testimonial, part survey tool and part recruiting tool,” Politico reports. If true, the union could be in trouble.
Let’s ignore the fact that the video doesn’t allege Romney has ever treated his workers poorly. And in fact, you’ll notice that the actual quotes from the video never say that Romney hasn’t done what some of the other residents have (give hugs, Gatorade, etc) — only that residents usually do those things (it may be a trivial point, but in an age when semantics is important, it’s good to note). Maybe that’s not the point, but there are some who could take it that way. Instead, let’s focus on how Mitt Romney has actually treated trash collectors in the past.
Is there really any evidence of how Romney has treated garbage men? you may ask. Yes, yes there is.
You need only to look at Romney’s 2010 book “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness.” In it, Romney actually has a section where he talks about trash collectors.
But wait, it gets better: the section in the book recalls the moment Romney became a trash collector for a day. Here’s the account from page 251 (according to the blog Policymic.com):
“During my campaign for governor, I decided to spend a day every few weeks doing the jobs of other people in Massachusetts. Among other jobs, I cooked sausages at Fenway Park, worked on asphalt paving crew, stacked bales of hay on a farm, volunteered in an emergency room, served food at a nursing home, and worked as a child-care assistant. I’m often asked which was the hardest job – it’s child care, by a mile.”
“One day I gathered trash as a garbage collector. I stood on that little platform at the back of the truck, holding on as the driver navigated his way through the narrow streets of Boston. As we pulled up to traffic lights, I noticed that the shoppers and businesspeople who were standing only a few feet from me didn’t even see me. It was as if I was invisible. Perhaps it was because a lot of us don’t think garbage men are worthy of notice; I disagree – anyone who works that hard deserves our respect. – I wasn’t a particularly good garbage collector: at one point, after filling the trough at the back of the truck, I pulled the wrong hydraulic lever. Instead of pushing the load into the truck, I dumped it onto the street. Maybe the suits didn’t notice me, but the guys at the construction site sure did…” (251) [All emphasis added]
So let’s get this straight: Not only did Romney actually spend a day doing exactly what the trash collector in the union ad does, but he also used the same exact word: “invisible.” And he used to say that’s exactly how he doesn’t view such people.
All this seems to show that Mitt Romney is far from an evil Republican who could care less about trash collectors. In fact, he once hung off the back of a garbage truck to see what they go through.
The Romney camp didn’t respond to HuffPo’s request for comment regarding the ad. And it seems pretty obvious why.
AFSCME has posted another garbage video featuring a female sanitation truck driver: