Ed Rendell’s 2005 ‘Kiss of Death’ Endorsement of Mitt Romney

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Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell weighed in Monday on the Obama campaign’s Bain Capital attacks and, alas, another would-be Obama surrogate bit the dust. “I think they’re very disappointing,” Rendell told Buzzfeed about the negative ads by Chicago. “I think Bain is fair game, because Romney has made it fair game. But I think how you examine it, the tone, what you say, is important as well.”

Oof. But that’s not the half of it. Rendell, who has returned to the private sector after an illustrious public career, including years as an Obama booster on cable news, carries some additional Romney baggage,. It can be found in a long forgotten quote Rendell gave to The Atlantic in 2005 concerning Mitt’s presidential qualifications.

First let’s set the scene. It’s the spring of 2005, and then-Pennsylvania Gov. Rendell is at Boston’s Fleet Center, courtside with then-Massachusetts Gov. Romney. The Celtics are playing the 76ers, and Rendell is wearing a New England Patriots jersey, his punishment for losing a Superbowl bet with Romney a few months earlier. (The Pats, as you surely remember, had edged the Philadelphia Eagles 24 to 21, after holding off a fourth-quarter Donovan McNabb rally.)

And then a reporter wanders by, and starts chatting up the governors. Romney joshes the reporter in his hokey way, and then Rendell pipes up with words he surely regrets. As reporter Sridhar Pappu later recounted:

Slouched in his seat, the husky, balding Democrat said, “This will be the kiss of death, but if I had to choose the next Republican President, if there’s going to be one it would be Governor Romney.”

Boom. As he spoke the words, the Celtics were down more than 20 points, and Rendell may have just been showing some neighborly charity. But in that same moment, Romney scored big, because those words don’t run. You can just see them in an ad, now. Hello Pennsylvania. This is Mitt Romney, the one Republican choice of Ed Rendell.