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September 18, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
So now we know what Mitt Romney really thinks and that's probably a good thing.
According to the AP, which did a story on comments Romney made at a private fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla., in May, Romney had this to say about the poor:
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right? There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. .... These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of lower taxes doesn't connect. So he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that's what they sell every four years.
"And so my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
The story first broke in the liberal magazine "Mother Jones."
Romney is probably right about whether the majority of those people will vote for him. He's trying to win an election and maybe it's more strategic for him to focus on the people he can still persuade to change their minds.
He's also wrong in a lot of ways, since he'd be President for those 47 percent too and he ought to be as concerned with their welfare as the wealthy.
Many pundits are remembering and comparing Romney's remarks with the somewhat controversial comments that President Barack Obama made during the 2008 campaign about people angry about the bad economy and his difficulty in getting them to vote for him. Here's what he said, according to a 2008 article at The Huffington Post:
"... Our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations ... " Obama said.
People didn't much care for the part about rural people being "bitter" and "clinging" to guns, religion and anti-immigrant sentiment and used it as an example of how out of touch Obama was with rural red-staters, just as people will probably use Romney's remarks as a sign of just how out of touch he is with people who are poor.
An unguarded comment by a candidate showing just what he really thinks is guaranteed to put his campaign manager and the pundits in a tizzy. But I'd rather see that kind of naked honesty than one more packaged, hollow interview full of the things they think the electorate wants to hear. It says something about the real man and what he'd really be like in the Oval Office.
Romney's comments regarding Israel and the Palestinians at that private fundraiser will probably tick off a lot of people too, though I actually largely agree with him. He thinks the Palestinians are largely uninterested in peace with the Israelis and the best thing for the U.S. to do is take a pragmatic position and manage the situation between Israel and Palestine as it does between China and Taiwan. Romney thinks it's possible to hope for some degree of stability without necessarily expecting a peace deal in the near future. That also seems to have been the position taken by previous Democratic and Republican administrations, including Obama's, but very few of them would come right out and baldly say so.
We could do with more of Obama and Romney unplugged before the November election.
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