Political Intelligence

Afghan passion could lead to a Kerry Healey post

Kerry Healey waved as she took the stage during the Republican National Convention.
Kerry Healey waved as she took the stage during the Republican National Convention.

TAMPA – Trail mix from covering the 2012 Republican National Convention:

With her heritage, doctorate from Trinity College, and affinity for Ireland, it’s always been easy to envision former Lieutenant Governor Kerry (Murphy) Healey as a potential US ambassador to Ireland — should her former running mate, Mitt Romney, be elected president.

But after a chat with Healey this past week, a different diplomatic posting seems equally plausible: US ambassador to Afghanistan.


Since her unsuccessful campaign to succeed Romney as governor in 2006, Healey has thrown herself into two main tasks. The first has been working on programs promoting both women and the justice system in war-torn Afghanistan, which is still divided by tribal custom and the persistent battle between the Taliban and the US-supported government in the country.

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The second is Romney’s presidential candidacy itself.

Healey has been among those on the former governor’s foreign policy advisory team. And, as her speech to the Republican National Convention on Thursday highlighted, she has provided passionate, first-person testimony about both his management style and treatment of women on his leadership team.

But when the focus turns to her own pursuits, it is clear that Afghanistan is not just her personal passion, but a subject matter that she has studied a lot.

She provided a Globe reporter with a tutorial about the country’s history and current political state, and gave a detailed critique of the Obama administration’s handling not just of the troop drawdown in Afghanistan but its interaction with the Kharzei regime.


It would not be a glamour posting like living in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, but it sounds like one for which Healey has competence.

Romney son makes pitch to Hispanics

Craig Romney also addressed the convention delegates on Thursday night, stepping onto the convention stage and speaking to delegates and the TV audience in Spanish.

“It’s easy to forget that the story of my father’s success begins with the story of two immigrants – my grandfathers – who came to this country with little more than hope in the opportunity of America,” Romney said in English.

It is part of the Romney campaign and Republican Party’s outreach to Hispanic voters who may have gotten turned off to both’s approach to immigration, not just in this year’s primary campaign but in preceding presidential campaigns.

Those close to Craig Romney — Mitt and Ann Romney’s youngest son — expect the California resident to spend much of the remainder of the campaign in the battleground state of Florida, addressing audiences in his adopted tongue.

Committeewoman set to step down


The convention was the last in office for Republican National Committeewoman Jody Dow.

The former registered nurse from Brookline has held the post for 18 years, but she was replaced in the party leadership role by Healey on Friday.

The former lieutenant governor will serve alongside Republican National Committeeman Ron Kaufman. “I felt 18 years was a wonderful experience and it was time to do other things,” Dow told the Globe.

Building audience for filmmaker’s project

Tampa served as the crossroads for the vocational lives of senior Romney adviser Peter Flaherty and his filmmaker brother, Michael, both of whom grew up in Arlington.

While Peter was in town to see his boss accept the Republican presidential nomination, Michael was there to screen the latest movie from his company, Walden Media. “Won’t Back Down” tells the story of a mother and a teacher challenging a troubled school system. It stars Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Rosie Perez.

Michael is trying to build an audience before its Sept. 28 release, and he plans to be in Charlotte, N.C., this week to screen it again at the Democratic National Convention.

The positive reception he got in Florida may end up being better than the one he will get in Charlotte, as the Democrat-leaning teachers unions will be more heavily represented in the North Carolina city. The American Federation of Teachers and teacher unions across the country have complained about what they see as stereotyping in the film, and a false choice between supporting students or teachers.

Regardless, Michael made clear that he expects Peter to return to Walden Media, where he had focused on business affairs before helping Romney become governor and, now, the GOP’s presidential candidate. “He’s just on loan to Mitt,” Michael said as Peter laughed beside him. “It’s been 10 years, but he’s just on loan.”

Glen Johnson is lead blogger for Political Intelligence, available online at www.boston.com/politics. He can be reached at johnson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.