Original URL: http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/272/metro/Swift_takes_a_beating_even_out_of_the_race+.shtml


Swift takes a beating even out of the race

Frank Phillips
Boston Globe
Sunday, September 29, 2002

Acting Governor Jane Swift can't win in this election - and she isn't even running. To be sure, she is keeping a stiff upper lip, refusing to show any signs that she is hurting from Mitt Romney's use of her as a foil as he pledges to clean up the ''mess on Beacon Hill.'' It's an unusual move by Romney, designed in part to blunt attempts by Shannon O'Brien to link
him to the 12-year GOP reign in the governor's office.

''Her spirits are outstanding,'' said one Swift aide. But those close to her say she is also privately ''fuming'' over how Romney is targeting her to stake out the reform ground.

Don't expect Swift to react publicly, no matter how tough it gets. Still, behind the scenes, Swift could make things difficult for Romney. Example: Women surrogates close to the acting governor could scold the GOP candidate for singling her out - a gender issue flare-up he doesn't need.

Romney's bilingual education stance could be risky

At first blush, it seemed Romney made a smart political move by embracing the ballot question to scrap the state's bilingual education program and replace it with a one-year English-immersion plan. Polls show the initiative has strong support. But it could also come back to haunt Romney, who is trying to craft an image as a moderate. Opponents, including civil rights groups and prominent business and political figures, are planning to try to define the debate in terms of tolerance versus anti-immigrant agenda.

The California businessman who is funding the initiative, Ron Unz, won't help Romney's case. The conservative Unz shows little ability to curb his tart, sometimes racially insensitive, rhetoric. Even the Bush White House, which is opposed to Unz's national campaign to blow up bilingual education, took umbrage at his jab at US Secretary of Education Rod Paige, the black Cabinet member who has defended the president's position. Unz said Paige got the job because of his color.

On treasury scandal, Malone shows no shame

Most politicians who allowed cronies to pull off the biggest theft in state history - $9 million - would want to slip away into the night. But not former state treasurer Joe Malone. He was on WRKO radio last week, debating Shannon's O'Brien campaign manager. When the issue of the scandal that marred his tenure came up, Malone lashed out at Attorney General Thomas Reilly, the person who uncovered the theft and put some of Malone's pals behind bars. ''That was the most partisan, one-sided thing; you know what went on there,'' Malone said. He went on to trash the Ethics Commission as ''another phony organization.''