At this point in the presidential race—given everything that’s occurred over the past week—it is not out of bounds to ask Mitt Romney this question: do you really want to be president? Because if you do, Governor, you sure have a peculiar way of selling yourself to Americans.
Heading into the conventions, it seemed the Romney Campaign was going to compete for the sliver of undecided voters in the battleground states. Since then, he’s tacked hard to the right, leaving liberals, moderates and undecideds wondering if he’s crazy. Perhaps he’s crazy like a fox.
Last week, as the U.S. embassy in Bahrain, Libya was under attack from what now appears to be a well-orchestrated al-Qaeda attack (using protesters as cover), the Romney camp took it as an opportunity to push the “Obama Apology Tour” meme that is so popular among conservatives. No, the meme is not true. It’s been debunked twice, but that’s beside the point. Many Americans—Republicans, too—responded negatively to Romney’s statements. And when people expected Mitt to walk it back, he doubled down. The far right cheered him on. But those cheers couldn’t drown out Romney’s fading poll numbers.
As the news cycle started this week, Romney’s Libyan gaffe was quickly forgotten as Mother Jones released video from a fundraiser where Romney said:
“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 that 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…
“Our message of low taxes doesn’t connect…so my job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the five to 10 percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful….”
(From the Washington Post)
I understand Romney was talking inside baseball with this audience, but what he said was not just offensive. It was misleading and just plain false. We all know he was dog whistling the “welfare queen” rhetoric. That sort of language doesn’t surprise me when it’s coming from a paid political operative. It does surprise me when it comes directly from a presidential candidate’s mouth.
Naturally, the Romney campaign is trying to deflect the veracity of the remarks. And his surrogates will surely pick up the slack. One sad truth in America is it’s still okay to disparage poor people. You will here the obligatory “I was in the grocery store the other day” anecdotes about people on government assistance who abuse the system. By Friday, this story will likely disappear. However, if I’m a Romney strategist, I’m terrified of what he says next.
Mitt Romney is his own worst enemy.