This 2012 campaign cycle, we have Mitt giving his competition priceless quotes practically every time he abandons his stump speech for a few moments:
- “Corporations are people.”
- “I like firing people.”
- “I’ll bet you $10,000.”
- “I know what it’s like to worry whether you’re gonna get fired. There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip.”
- “I’m unemployed, too.”
- “I think it’s envy.”
And the hits just keep on coming. I thought the only quote left was a rendition of "Some of my best friends are poor", but on Wednesday, he said this on CNN:
“I’m in this race because I care about Americans. I’m not concerned about the very poor — we have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich — they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”
What America heard:
“Blah blah blah blah. I’m not concerned about the very poor. Blah blah blah blah blah.”
This selective hearing is a result of Mitt saying things that fit a narrative already being spun by Romney himself (and conservatives in general). The immoral poor and illegal immigrant families caused the housing meltdown and the financial crisis, and ObamaCare would take Medicare benefits away from virtuous elderly folks to provide health coverage for people too lazy to take care of themselves. Of course Mitt doesn’t care about the very poor. Those folks are bankrupting America! Even Newt said they should “take a bath and get a job.”
Of course, we all know that poor Mitt’s quote about the poor has been taken out of context, but the Romney campaign is already on record claiming that out-of-context quotes are fair game in presidential politics. It was just a few brief months ago when Romney’s first anti-Obama ad quoted Obama as saying back in 2008, “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose” – when Obama was actually quoting a McCain aide. The Romney response when questioned about the misleading nature of that ad and that quote? “Obama did say those words.” That is not exactly a rousing defense.
Add “context” to the casualty list in this campaign that has barely begun, right after the untimely demise of honesty, fairness, and truth. Politics is hell.
At its core, this is a political problem for Romney, and it will only be solved with a political solution. In order for Mitt to win in November (assuming he wins the nomination), he will need to be perceived as someone who can relate to the poor. That is a steep hill to climb for a guy worth close to $200 million with multiple homes and accounts in the Cayman Islands, but the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
Here are some excerpts from a top secret internal memorandum from Mitt’s top campaign staff to the candidate suggesting a few possible immediate actions to change the narrative in his favor:
· “Stage a photo op skiing on the East Coast where the poor people ski. Avoid skiing the Rockies.”
· “Leak that you have changed your beach home kitchen upgrade orders to include Corian instead of granite countertops.”
· “Call in sick to the next debate. Poor people can relate to calling in sick.”
· “Accept the invitation to guest host The Maury Povich show.”
· “Play lottery scratcher games every week, but be sure to lose.”
· “End all of your town hall meeting talking points with, “You know what I’m sayin’?”
· “Be photographed next to Donald Trump. It makes you look poor.”
At least his staff is trying. I have one more suggestion. He could stick to the script or stop speaking altogether. Either way.
The Early Romneys, as told by historian Mel Brooks: