Romney actually said that. He might even believe it. Sometimes you want to go out of your way to wait before reacting to something. Thinking slowly never hurt anyone, at least not in print. But sometimes, your gut instinct is right.
Mother Jones‘ David Corn obtained this video, and no one (as of yet) is disputing its authenticity. Here is what Romney says:
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. [M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
Let’s disregard the factual inaccuracies here, and there are many to disregard. It should be axiomatic that presidential candidates never, even in private, ever insult half of the American people. It should be double-mega axiomatic that he never do so in a room full of people.
Barack Obama, during the primary season in 2008, referred to rural voters who are “bitter” and “cling” to their guns and religion because they had deep economic anxieties. The remarks hurt Obama in the subsequent Pennsylvania primary, and Republicans (like VP nominee Paul Ryan) still use them today to bash the president as insensitive and out of touch. There is a grain of truth in these charges, which is why they’ve stuck.
This video is far worse on its face. Obama was, in a patronizing way, trying to explain why voters in certain areas voted against their economic interests. Romney is simply insulting half of the country in a way that right-wing talk radio show hosts do out of habit. If there is linguistic coding in his speech it is not very subtle: He’s playing on the resentment that many conservatives have for the Obama coalition, and the idea that those who receive government aid don’t deserve it; those who receive our money are moochers. And they of course happen to be disproportionately black and brown. (Disproportionately, maybe, but a majority are white; of the people he actually describes, half probably actually vote for Republicans. Think down-scale whites and seniors. Whoops!)
Does Romney believe this? Was he playing to the crowd? It sounded like he really believed it.
Forget the 47 percent. Independents may not be as economically liberal as the folks allegedly portrayed by Romney, but they are absolutely scared to death of telling their neighbor that they voted for someone with such intolerant views. That is, the skin and packaging of a candidate does indeed matter to independents. Indies have very trigger-sensitive ears to hints of condescension. These are the types of people who decry divisive partisanship.
The only way that Romney’s strategists will try to salvage this video internally is to tell themselves that independents aren’t going to vote for Romney anyway, and that this video might really rally some extreme elements of the conservative base. Or maybe, independents will say to themselves: “Damn it, you know what? He’s right.”
Good luck with that one.
By: Marc Ambinder, The Week, September 17, 2012
Despite her national fan base and a massive war chest, Rep. Michele Bachmann may be in more danger than most suspect, with a new poll showing her lead diminished to just 2 points. Independent voters have swung against her by nearly 20 points in just two months, from a 4 percent advantage to a 15 point disadvantage. The internal poll, conducted by Democratic pollsters Greenberg Quinlan Rosner at the behest of Democrat Jim Graves’ campaign and shared with Salon, shows that Bachmann’s favorability rating has tumbled since their last survey in mid-June, and finds Graves gaining ground with independents as his name recognition grows.
Overall, the poll shows Bachmann leading Graves 48-46 percent, within the margin of error. The race has moved significantly among independents, with a 20-point net shift toward Graves, from a 41-45 percent disadvantage in June to a 52-37 percent lead now. Among independents, Bachmann’s favorability rating has slipped 4 points while her unfavorability rating has jumped 7 points. Overall, she’s viewed mostly negatively. Among all voters, 40 percent give her a positive job rating, while a sizable 57 percent give her a negative one, with a plurality of 35 percent giving the most negative answer possible — “poor.”
Graves’ campaign manager (and son) Adam Graves told Salon that the numbers show his candidate is well positioned to beat Bachmann. “Obviously, we’re very excited about it. The first thing that’s notable is that obviously her recent comments, the stories that she’s created for herself, have really hurt her among folks in the middle,” he said. Bachmann, who had tried to keep a lower profile after aborting her presidential bid, grabbed headlines this summer for her implication that Muslims in the U.S. government may be secret agents of the Muslim Brotherhood.
As we argued last month, Graves has the best shot at beating Bachmann of any Democrat since the congresswoman was first elected in 2006, thanks in large part to the absence of a third-party candidate. In previous races, those candidates have captured as much as 10 percent of the vote, siphoning votes away from the challenger. While some observers were skeptical that much of that 10 percent would break toward a Democrat, the Graves campaign said the new poll shows clearly that that fear has not materialized, as independents are moving toward its candidate.
The poll also show that Graves’ name ID in the district has jumped 20 points, though he’s still largely unknown at 38 percent. Meanwhile, Bachmann is known by 99 percent of voters. That will make it harder for Bachmann to change people’s perceptions about her, while Graves should be able to influence people who do not yet have an opinion of him. “If every time we pick up 20 percent on voter ID, we pick up 20 percent of the independents, then by the time we’ve reached a place where we’re happy with 80 percent ID or whatever, we realize that we’re going to be in a position to win,” Adam Graves said. ”This race is neck-and-neck.”
There’s been no other public polling of the district, though it’s reasonable to assume that the Bachmann campaign has commissioned its own surveys. The fact that none have been released suggests that Bachmann’s numbers also do not bode well for her. Meanwhile, she underperformed in her Republican primary last month.
By: Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon, September 10, 2012
Mitt Romney has been so busy securing his Republican base that he hasn’t had time to court independent voters, the ones who will actually decide this election. But now, probably by accident, he has an opportunity to show them that he’s something other than a slave to his party’s right wing. Will he take it?
When Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul committed the apparently unpardonable sin of praising the health care law Mitt Romney passed as governor of Massachusetts, was she making a horrible mistake that made everyone in Romney headquarters gasp in horror, or was she just reflecting what her candidate actually believes? The answer to that question would tell us where Romney is going to go from here on health care, and whether he may at long last try to find some issue on which he can convince voters he’s something more than a vessel for whatever his party’s right wing wants to do to the country.
Most everyone, myself included, initially assumed that Saul just spoke out of turn. After all, Romney had been trying to avoid any discussion of health care all through the primaries. And from a logical standpoint, there really is no good argument for him to make. Since what Romney did in Massachusetts and what President Obama did with the Affordable Care Act are identical in their major features, either they were both wise policy moves or they were both horrible mistakes, but it just can’t be the case that one was great and the other was a nightmare. That is, in fact, the argument Romney makes when he’s forced to talk about the Massachusetts reform, but you can tell he realizes how absurd what he’s saying is, and he wants to change the subject as soon as possible.
But Noam Scheiber argues that it’s oversimplified to just say that Romney has turned his back on Romneycare in order to assure Republicans that he hates Obamacare as much as they do:
As we await the Romney campaign’s decision about Saul’s fate, it’s worth reflecting on one under-reported aspect of this latest conservative blow-up: Saul was saying precisely what her superiors in the Romney campaign believe, not least of them Mitt Romney.
I spent a lot of time talking to Romney campaign officials while reporting my recent profile of Stuart Stevens, his chief strategist. The unmistakable impression I got from them is that, to this day, Romney remains extremely proud of having passed health care reform in Massachusetts.
And why wouldn’t he be? He approached a difficult problem, then came up with a solution acceptable to both parties, and by all accounts the resulting policy has been a success. There are only a small number of uninsured people left in Massachusetts, and the reform is widely popular within the state. It was without a doubt the most significant accomplishment of Romney’s one term as governor. The fact that he is running a campaign for president in which he dares not mention the best thing he did in the one job he had that was something of a preparation for the job he wants is quite insane.
Of course, it’s one thing for him to be justifiably proud of Romneycare, and it’s another for him to actually talk about it on the campaign trail. If he were to do that, it would require two things he has little desire to do: angering his base, and admitting, at least tacitly, that Barack Obama actually did something right. The former is really the biggest problem; there has not been a single occasion during this campaign (or the one he ran in 2008, for that matter), when Mitt Romney has said or done anything he thought might get the right wing of the Republican party upset. The chances that he’ll start now are slim to none.
By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, August 10, 2012
President Obama’s bus tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania late last week offered a striking look at the evolution of a president. In 2008, Obama used soaring rhetoric and personal biography to talk about binding together a red-blue nation. His message today is about the urgent need to defeat a stubborn opposition party in order to move the country forward.
Four years ago, Obama used themes of hope and change to suggest that he could bring a new politics to Washington. He was open to the idea that, as he sometimes put it, the solutions to the country’s problems were somewhere between the rhetoric and visions of both parties. His goal, he said, was to help guide the country, through his leadership, to that imagined golden mean while sticking to his principles.
Today, the battle-scarred president who has met almost uniform resistance from the Republicans sees the world differently, or so it seems from the way he talked in Ohio and Pennsylvania. At nearly every stop, he made it clear that he sees November in the starkest of terms and that there can be but one winner. He asked supporters to help deliver a victory in November that would carry a message that his vision is superior to that of the Republicans.
In Maumee, Ohio, under a blazing sun on Thursday, he put it this way: “What’s holding us back from meeting our challenges — it’s not a lack of ideas, it’s not a lack of solutions. What’s holding us back is we’ve got a stalemate in Washington between these two visions of where the country needs to go. And this election is all about breaking that stalemate.”
On Friday morning in Poland, Ohio, just two hours after the latest jobs report showed another month of tepid growth: “We’ve got two fundamentally different ideas about where we should take the country. We’re trying to put Congress to work. And this election is about how we break that stalemate. And the good news is it’s in your power to break this stalemate.”
That is a change from the way he talked as a candidate in 2008. His message then was not so much about either-or choices. That was not the message he delivered when he first appeared on the national stage at the 2004 Democratic convention, nor was it the message he offered the night he scored his breakthrough victory in the 2008 Iowa caucuses that launched him toward the White House. He did not talk about elections as tiebreakers between two sides but of a country hungering for a new model for its politics.
“You came together as Democrats, Republicans and independents,” he said that night, “to stand up and say that we are one nation. We are one people . . . You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that’s consumed Washington; to end the political strategy that’s been all about division, and instead make it about addition; to build a coalition for change that stretches through red states and blue states.”
There was more to his message in 2008, certainly. He ran plenty of negative ads against Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the Republican nominee. He drew distinctions between his ideas and those of Republican Party. He ran hard against then-President George W. Bush, especially the war in Iraq, and promised a change in direction.
But what resonated most was the aspirational side of his message. The country would meet its challenges only one way — together. Contrast that with the way he talked about the election as the sun was setting Thursday night in a park in Parma, Ohio. “There are two fundamentally different visions about how we move the country forward,” he said. “And the great thing about our democracy is you get to be the tiebreaker.”
There are obvious reasons why he sees things differently today. All presidents are changed by their experiences, and Obama’s battles, including polarized fights over the stimulus, health care, financial regulatory reform and ultimately the showdown over the debt ceiling, have given him a different perspective.
The turn came last summer. At this time in 2011, Obama was in the middle of negotiations with House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to raise the debt ceiling, talks that included a grand bargain to reduce the deficit and to begin to deal with the future costs of entitlement programs. Those talks later collapsed, amid recriminations and finger pointing.
Out of that debacle has come the rhetoric, from both sides, that frames the choice between the president and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the starkest of terms. Both Obama and Romney genuinely believe the other’s vision is deeply flawed, even dangerous for the country.
On both sides, it is a choice between black and white with little in between. On one side, it is seen as the threat of big government, shackles on the economy and an end to freedom. On the other side, it is seen as shredding the middle class in order to reward the rich. Swing voters in the middle are being asked to pick one side or the other, not to aspire to become part of the kind of united coalition of Democrats, Republicans and independents that Obama talked about in 2008.
Many Democrats say it’s about time that the president got tough, that he spent too much time trying to negotiate with Republicans who weren’t interested in negotiating with him. At the White House, the 2012 campaign really began in the aftermath of the debt ceiling debate. Let the voters settle what Washington politicians cannot.
The president may believe that by asking voters to break the tie — by delivering him a second term — Americans would be voting for an end to stalemated politics in Washington — sending a message to Republicans that they should finally start to bargain with him rather than opposing him.
So as he spoke across Ohio’s northern tier, there were faint echoes of 2008. “I’m not a Democrat first,” he told the audience in Maumee. “I’m an American first. I believe we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. And I believe what’s stopping us is not our capacity to meet our challenges. What’s stopping us is our politics. And that’s something you have the power to solve.”
But at its core, Obama’s message has shifted. The urgency in his appeal is grounded in his conviction that this is an election about ideas and policies and political philosophies, that the country faces a crucial moment and a clear choice. The country is in a far different place than it was when he first ran for office, and he is in a far different battle. And he has decided how he will fight it between now and November.
By: Dan Balz, The Take, The Washington Post, July 7, 2012
Unlike Newt Gingrich, who can claim a regional base, Rick Santorum, who has a solidly defined political persona, or Ron Paul, who has something of a cult of personality, there’s nothing unique about Mitt Romney as a candidate. He is the definition of a generic Republican—a blank slate for the public to register its frustrations. Like Thomas Dewey—who played a similar role in the 1948 election—he is “the little man on the wedding cake.” Indeed, if there is anything close to a reason for his presidential campaign, it’s his vanilla appeal to the broad public, and undecided voters in particular.
Since the beginning of the year, however, that advantage has completely evaporated—the public has gone from slight approval of the former Massachusetts governor, to outright loathing.
In less than two months, Romney has gone from a positive rating of +8.5—43.5 percent favorable to 35 percent unfavorable—to an astonishingly negative one of -17.4, or 31.2 percent favorable to 48.6 percent unfavorable. What’s more, this comes as his name recognition has increased; the more Americans get to know Mitt Romney, the less they like him. This, it should be said, wasn’t true of John Kerry when he ran for the presidency in 2004.
Of course, because this poll measures all voters—and not just independents—this includes some Republicans who will return to the fold if Romney becomes the nominee. But the favorability gains that come with leading a unified party aren’t enough to overcome a deficit of this size. What’s more, it will do nothing for Romney’s standing with independents, which has also collapsed in the last two months. You can also expect these numbers to get worse for the former Massachusetts governor as he moves to bury Rick Santorum under a landslide of attack ads ahead of the Michigan primary. Voters aren’t keen on constant negativity, which has become Romney’s default position as the primaries drag on.
None of this is to say that Romney is doomed if he becomes the nominee, but the situation doesn’t look good. At this point, most Americans don’t trust him to stand up for their interests, a plurality of Americans don’t like him, and independents would rather stick to President Obama. It’s true that this could all change with a crisis in Europe or a war in the Middle East, but if that’s what you’re banking on, you’re not in a good place.
By: Jamelle Bouie, The American Prospect, February 16, 2012