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NYTimes: Romney's Muffin Top Eating Habit Turns Away Asian Immigrants

2:27 PM, Sep 3, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney "eats only the tops of muffins," a New York Times op-ed notes. The piece, by Professor Marie Myung-Ok Lee, claims the Romney campaign is telling this anecdote to show Romney as "an everyday Joe." 

The problem? "The Romney campaign clearly hasn’t thought about how this anecdote will play to a crucial voting bloc: Asian immigrants," according to the Times.

My parents came here from Korea after the Korean War. My father arrived on a cargo ship with $200 in his pocket. From those humble beginnings, he established a flourishing medical practice, one that sent four children to college and let him achieve one of the highest marks of Korean immigrant distinction: the purchasing of a Burberry scarf.

Like many Korean immigrants of his generation (and many immigrants in general), he was drawn to the Republican Party. For one thing, the platform is easy to understand: taxes are bad. Republicans also seem more patriotic. They want to ban burning the American flag, while the Democrats engage in confusing, peevish debates about whether flag burning is free speech.

For more than 40 years, my parents maintained their unshakable loyalty, even while living in Minnesota, the only state with the distinction of voting for a Democrat in every presidential election after 1972, and despite the Republicans’ rising anti-immigration fervor — which was aimed, I pointed out, right at them. After all, they were, for a time in the 1960s, undocumented aliens, and it was our Democratic members of Congress who stayed their deportation.

But I knew better than to argue with my parents. My father passed on a few years ago, but last week’s Republican convention seemed custom-made for him: Mr. Romney’s chiseled, MacArthuresque look, his Harvard creds and blond wife, a Burberry love of all things Anglo-Saxon and, possibly most appealing, the easy-to-understand if not-quite-truthful theme of “We built it.” That, of course, is the immigrant story in a nutshell.

So why did Mitt Romney have to go ruin it with the muffin tops? ...

I can only imagine what he would have had to say about a presidential candidate so heedless he eats only the top off a muffin. No matter how loyal a Republican, my father would likely have declared Mr. Romney a very silly, profligate man — not the kind of man to be trusted with his precious tax money. Perhaps his vote would have gone to a Democrat for the first time ever. Politico has declared the Asian-American vote “key for both parties.”  Will muffin-top-gate cause other immigrant parents to join their Democratic-leaning children?  

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