Romney’s Wawa-Gate: a Rundown

Which makes Mitt Romney least qualified to serve as Commander in Chief: that he pronounced ‘Wawa’ with an ‘S’, that he expressed playful amazement at the touch screen ordering system, or that he ordered a meatball sub rather than a hoagie? Here’s a rundown of the ridiculous coverage of Wawa-gate.

Wawa is famous for a few things: delicious hoagies, all-night munchies and F’real shakes, but that list usually doesn’t include teaching presidential candidates a lesson.

That changed during Mitt Romney’s Pennsylvania bus tour.

While in Pa., Mitt Romney rescheduled from one Wawa to the next. When ordering a sandwich, he was so “amazed’ by the process that he was inspired to discuss Wawa, using it as an analogy between the private and governmental sector, during a speech in Cornwall.

However, not everyone was “amazed” with the comparison.

News outlets have debated on Romney’s Wawa “gaffe,” but they agreed on one thing: Romney’s biggest mistake, aside from repeatedly referring to Wawa in the possessive as “Wawa’s,” was ordering a meatball hoagie with sweet pickles.

Here’s what ran on MSNBC:

The full clip is here.


Tommy Christopher touched on the “Wawa’s” remark, but chalked it up to a regional colloquialism common to the Midwest, where Romney’s from.

But he also didn’t think that Romney’s expression of awe at the chain’s touchscreen technology was a disingenuous one.

“Romney already has a well-earned reputation as an out-of-touch rich guy, so this doesn’t figure to change much in that regard, but his sincere delight at the sammy-making process is funny and humanizing.”

Christopher also didn’t fail to mention that Romney misuse of Wawa’s title:

“As for his repeated use of the name “Wawa’s” (it’s just “Wawa), I know there’s a tendency in Great Britain to use a possessive on chains that actually aren’t (“Tesco’s” rather than “Tesco”), so perhaps this is some regional quirk.”

Washington Post:

Columnist Jonathan Capehart admitted that he while he relished using Romney’s ‘amazed’ to confirm Romney’s out of touch, he understood Romney’s point.

“There’s no denying Romney has a point. The private sector is lightyears more efficient than the federal government. It can be more innovative, too.”

Regardless if Romney’s Wawa speech had a point or not, Capehart still believes the GOP candidate’s separated from society.

Grub Street Philadelphia:

Like Capehart, Collin Keefe agreed that Romney’s out of touch.

“This past weekend, while ordering a sandwich in Pennsylvania, Mitt Romney may have once and for all proven true the assertions that he’s out of touch with the majority of voters.”

For Keefe, Romney committed the cardinal sin: referring to a hoagie as a ‘sub.’

“…He completely dissed one of Wawa’s proudest achievements, their prized specialty hoagies. Instead, he ordered a meatball sandwich. With pickles and sweet peppers. Ew.”

Huffington Post:

Huffington Post’s Patrick Svitek hit on the fact that Romney couldn’t get Wawa’s name correct.

“Romney went on to applaud “Wawa’s” — the actual name of the chain is Wawa (no “s”) — for its electronic ordering system, which he discovered at a Quakertown store earlier in the weekend. ”

He also confirmed that Romney’s visit to Cornwall may have done more harm than good: “Mitt Romney’s literacy in local institutions is not doing fine.”

Philadelphia Inquirer:

Inquirer Writers Thomas Fitzgerald and Amy Worden discussed Romney’s full bus tour across Pennsylvania.

His most notable action? Ordering that infamous sandwich.

“At the second Wawa, Romney ordered a meatball hoagie with pickles and sweet peppers – he asked for a “sub” but quickly switched to the regionally correct name – and greeted dozen shoppers in the store, along with local supporters who word of the change and rushed to show up.”

New York Times:

Unlike other critics, Margaret Hartmann defended Romney. Instead, she turned on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell for misrepresenting Romney.

“The guy may be rich, but he’s ordered a sandwich before.”

However, she too had to note the fact that Romney was said Wawa the wrong way.

“Wawa-gate is a textbook ‘Out-of-Context Gaffe,’ plus, even without the edited footage, there was enough material for a story on Romney’s awkward attempt to embrace Pennsylvania’s local cuisine. He repeatedly referred to the chain as “Wawa’s,” not “Wawa,” and used the (unimpressive) touchscreen to order a meatball hero with pickles and sweet peppers rather than a classic hoagie.”

Washington Post:

Alexandra Petri also defended Romney and addressed MSNBC’s misuse of Wawa’s words.

“Andrea Mitchell today addressed the issue and said that before, they hadn’t had time to show the whole thing. I can understand that, but that doesn’t explain the — editing.”

“Punditry so often amounts to the close reading of oddly specific sound bites. So it is important at least to get the sound bites right.”

“MSNBC News needs to get its act together quickly on this editing thing if they’d like to keep News in the name.”

Petri was particularly disappointed after she saw Romney’s full clip:

“A quote played on MSNBC implied that we both felt the same sense of wonder when we beheld its touch-screen ordering system.”

She was wrong.

Here’s the full text of Romney’s speech:

“The people who work in government are good people and I respect what they do but, you see, the challenge with government is it doesn’t have competition. The federal government that is.

States compete all the time. I learned that. I learned how states compete.

When I was governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, fellow Republican, came to my state. He put a billboard up in my state. He was trying to push jobs for my state to go to California.It had a picture of him in a T-Shirt flexing his muscles. It said ‘Come to California.’

What am I to do? I put billboards up in his state. It had me in a T-Shirt flexing my muscles. It said, ‘Smaller muscles, much lower taxes, come to Massachusetts!’

States compete. And so we learn from each other. And we find ways to do things better or we’ll lose jobs to each other. That’s what your governor’s doing – finding ways to do things better.

States compete. Private sector competes.

But the federal government, it doesn’t realize it’s in competition with other nations around the world and so sometimes people don’t get very creative.

I met an optometrist this morning. And this optometrist wanted to change his billing
address. He moved from one side of town to the other. Same zip code, same post
office. But he wanted to change his address. He got a form from the federal government. This is so he can get reimbursed for the services he provides for the poor and seniors.

The form he gets to change addresses is 33 pages long. 33 pages long.

He calls someone to ask how to fill it out. He calls someone in government. They tell
him what to do. He fills it out and sends it in. It wasn’t done right. Got to do it again, another 33 pages. He calls another person. They tell him what to do. He doesn’t get it right the second time. The third time’s a charm though. This takes several months. During which time he’s not getting the checks for the work he’s doing for the people who need his care.

That’s how government works.

Then I was at a Wawas, and I wanted to order a sandwich. You press the little touch tone
keypad, alright, you just touch that, and you know that the sandwich is coming.
Touch this, touch this, touch this. You go pay the cashier and there’s your sandwich. It’s
amazing! People in the private sector know learn how to compete.

It’s time to bring some competition to the federal government. Make it smaller, and have it
respond to the customers…which are you!”

12 Responses

  1. I live in florida and was born and raised in the burbs of Philly. I so much appreciated this story when it was aired on Tv. I simply LOVE WaWa and cannot stand Mitt. For me. this was the news of the day. Rendell is right incidentally and did the right thing having Protests in order upon Mitt’s arrival. Makes me want to come back home, drive to WaWa.,, touch that screen, and order a HOAGIE!! I am hoping that Pennsy uses their brains and votes all of the GOP out!!!

  2. If government is so inefficient, maybe we should also privatize the Presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court. I think Wawa should post policies and laws on their touchscreens and people can decide on government issues while also getting lunch at the same time, a very efficient use of the people’s time.

  3. WaWa for President! They are efficient and wonderful representatives of the private sector. And they could bring people together just like they do elements of a hoagie.

  4. Thank you Observer. It is a fact that a hoagie is a cold sandwich on a long roll, generally including lettuce, tomato, onion, the meat of one’s choice and either oil or mayo. Cheese, pickles, peppers, salt, pepper and oregano are optional. There are many permutations and few hard and fast rules.

    Kiki, a cheesesteak hoagie is a specific variation of cheesesteak that has lettuce, tomato and onions. I’ve never (until this week) heard of a meatball hoagie, and you are correct that Philadelphians do not use the term “sub”. If you wanted to use a local term, you could call it a meatball grinder, which means it’s heated up in the oven.

    That said, we should give Mitt a break. Just because he doesn’t speak our language doesn’t mean he’s out of touch. The fact that he wants to give tax breaks to millionaires while he takes away healthcare from kids and lets student loan interest double means he’s out of touch.

  5. To An Observer:

    You are incorrect. Hoagie is a term for a sandwich with that style bread. Ever been to philadelphia and ordered a “cheesesteak sub” or “cheesesteak sandwich” ?

    It’s a cheese steak hoagie. Temperature has nothing to do with it. Romney got it wrong, and if he’s going to pretend like he’s ordered a hoagie before, then he should get it right.

  6. Dave got it right – a meatball sandwich. Hoagies are cold. Perhaps Romney didn’t get it quite right, but neither did the media.

  7. agree with casual observer 100%, real story is that he screwed a couple hundred supporters in the midday sun because he couldn’t handle protesters.

  8. I can only assume the author of this article is also trying to be facetious. To give Romney grief over calling the hoagie a “sub” and the store “Wawa’s” is just infantile. He’s from the midwest, people…no such thing as “hoagies” in Michigan. Maybe Romney’s detractors should try practicing serious journalism, like why the president is claiming executive privilege over documents related to a program about which he previously denied all knowledge!

  9. Wawa’s are great but if anyone thinks they are the best of the best in hoagies they are mistaken. Seriously, i watched the video and to be honest the competition metaphor was excellent.

  10. As someone who’s perceived vulnerability is being out of touch with the voters, pulling the “I’m going to another WaWa stunt” certainly isn’t going to help. Leaving your supporters and those you’re trying to win over out in the heat with no remorse is terrible form. Look, we get WaWa is a funny name, and that Corbett is probably a Sheetz man himself (Where Romney’s mind could be officially blown), but the bottom-line in the whole thing is that when you run a Bus Tour where “Every Town Counts,” you better make every town count, not just some of it.

  11. The media is more concerned about Romney’s Wawa visit than they are about What’s happening in Congress with Fast & Furious. God help us! The media is complicit in the downfall of this nation.

  • Who Will Be Speaker of the PA House on February 28?

    • Joanna McClinton (68%)
    • Mark Rozzi (27%)
    • A Republican TBD (5%)

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