Strange campaign issues seem to come out of nowhere every election cycle. In 1988, the presidential campaign by Vice President George H.W. Bush successfully used the story of some obscure criminal, Willie Horton, to derail Massachusetts Governor Michal Dukakis. In 2004, some controversial PAC ads involving the Vietnam-era Swift Boat duty of John Kerry became a factor in his relatively narrow loss to incumbent President George W. Bush. This year, “Pink Slime”, an ingredient included in some beef has all the same potential to become a 2012 campaign issue.
Beef Products,Inc. has been forced to suspend production at several plants across the United States for their ammonia treated beef products that have become a major subject of controversy in the last few days. “Pink Slime” turns out to be low grade beef parts such as intestines, rectal parts, and other less desirable beef parts treated with ammonia gas to kill off E coli and other dangerous and potentially dangerous bacteria that was added to beef products at major resellers such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell up until only recently.
The founder of Beef Products, Inc., Eldon Roth and his wife, Regina, have also contributed at least $190,000 to Romney Campaign PACs according to public campaign disclosure records. And, further, Mitt Romney himself praised Eldon Roth in his book, “No Apology” as some sort of American success story who has been able to buy “a very large jet” due to his wealth from his “Pink Slime” producing company. Yet, some traces of e coli and salmonella have been found in some samples of “Pink Slime”, which has made the beef additive highly controversial recently. And Romney also has another close tie to at least one other major beef industry figure, John Miller. Miler was the former CEO of National Beef Packing Company, who has since become of Romney’s national finance co-chairs. It seems that Romney and Miller both own property in La Jolia, California that is right next to each other. Further, Roth was an investor in Miller’s company as well. These three, Romney, Roth and Miller are a close knit group it seems.
This year because of the huge undue influence of SuperPACS which are allowed unlimited campaign donations, the official Romney Campaign should not only receive beef industry figure support both through the official campaign as well as through the SuperPACS. But, likely some SuperPACs opposing Romney will also make issue of his close ties to this beef industry and “Pink Slime” connection as well.
Although the instances of potentially dangerous bacteria in the “Pink Slime” supply have been relatively rare considering the amount of output of the beef product made from the disagreeable beef parts, the public mindset against the product runs high enough right now that the mere mention of the “Pink Slime” connection to Romney could potentially hurt. That’s the problem with these little side issues like Willie Horton, Swift Boats, or “Pink Slime”. These side issues really don’t have a great deal of substance, yet appear to be especially damaging to some campaign compared to the really important issues which should count for much more.