Mitt Romney’s withdrawal from the presidential race has had ramifications far beyond the Republican primaries. What now happens to “Mitt,” the most rousing campaign song in decades? Romney has lots of good memories to look back on. Those of us who produced “Mitt” have only an unperformed compact disc whose only chance for fame disappeared with Romney’s announcement. We’re depressed.
“Mitt” will probably be better than anything you hear during the 2016 campaign. The song was written and recorded in May, 2012, when it became apparent that Romney had the Republican nomination sewed up. The melody is the title tune from Broadway’s “Mame,” now parodied into “Mitt.” I composed the lyrics, we hired a top flight sound engineer — a Mylie Cyrus’ tour engineer — and our vocalist is a member of the L A Master Chorale and a former soloist with the Roger Wagner Chorale. The recording session took only two hours from rehearsal to disc:
Virtually every issue of the 2012 campaign crammed successfully into 3 minutes, with humor, biting knocks at the liberal press, a salute to the Tea Party, taxes, spending, jobs, etc.
What could be better? Well, apparently a lot, like having an in with the entertainment committee for the Republican National Convention. The piece was intended for its initial performance on the night Romney accepted the nomination. We had a 21-piece pit orchestra and a Tampa little theater group, which was performing Mame that spring, lined up for the performance.
We never got beyond the convention gatekeepers. The committee never responded until, just before the convention opened, a form email came, rejecting our offer. No one remembers the big production number that stole our spot at the convention. But “Mitt” they would have remembered.
A performance of “Mitt” would have paralleled Carol Channing’s singing of “Hello, Lyndon” at the Democrats 1964 convention, in more ways than one. Jerry Herman wrote both Mame and Hello, Dolly. He is a sometimes described as a flaming liberal. What a coup had Herman’s Mame been aired across the country in support of a conservative Republican presidential candidate!
Nor could we reach the Romney camp with the plea that real campaign music was stuff like “Mitt,” not the music that seemed to dominate his rallies. Voters like campaign songs they can hum. It was pretty hard to hum anything that Romney’s entertainers performed.
So 2012 came and went and “Mitt” remained an an unplayed compact disc.
But, wait, what about 2016? We prepared to update the old lyrics – it only took a change in two lines – and were ready to record a new version but we wanted some expression of interest from the Romney camp. Reaching anyone in his entourage is almost impossible but a week ago we got to Kelly Harrison, who seems to be the woman to go to for something like this. She didn’t respond, probably because by that time the not to run decision was already made.
There will be no 2016 recording of “Mitt.” But hope remains for 2020.
There is one short footnote to this tale. Originally “Mitt” was written in two versions in 2012. The stimulus came from a challenge to write a parody of “Mame.” I write lots of parodies so the idea was intriguing. It didn’t take long to transform “Mame” into “Mitt.” But I wrote two versions: the one for Romney and a second one, with anti-Mitt lyrics, for the Democratic National Committee. The Democrats never responded. The leading Republican national committeewoman we sent the pro-Mitt version to loved it. With that encouragement, we went ahead with our planning for performing at the convention. She was the last Republican official who ever gave us a nod.
Ralph E. Shaffer