Barack Obama must wake up every morning, pick out winning lottery numbers, walk through the White House gardens and pick four leaf clovers, and snag free horseshoes from the Budweiser Clydesdales. There is no other way to describe a presidential candidate that has lucked out by faced two of the most incompetent and poorly managed opponents in American campaign history. The release of the “Mitt Tapes” last night to Mother Jones magazine – hidden video of Mitt Romney waxing cynical and obnoxious about poor people, Hispanics and Obama voters during a fundraiser in Florida - make this race look over 6 weeks early. However the election isn’t over just yet, because in the rush to bury Romney under a pile of his own 1% bile most analysts are failing to place his comments in the proper political context.
Mitt Romney is being slammed for his statements at the $50K a plate fundraiser starting with his assessment of Obama supporters (and a good chunk of America apparently).
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.”
This sounds bad right? But to be honest, hasn’t Mitt Romney been saying this all along? Has anything in his presidential campaign suggested that a Romney/Ryan strategy includes engaging a broad coalition of voters to oust the sitting president? Of course not. The entire campaign has been about suppressing minority, poor and young voters as well as ginning up disaffected whites and core Republicans. This is boilerplate Republican rhetoric that you can hear every night on Fox news, or Rick Santorum, or Newt Gingrich. In the Mother Jones article that is the first site to release the private video Governor Romney goes on to discuss Hispanic voters and his own background. The article states:
Describing his family background, he quipped about his father, “Had he been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot of winning this.” Contending that he is a self-made millionaire who earned his own fortune, Romney insisted, “I have inherited nothing.” He remarked, “There is a perception, ‘Oh, we were born with a silver spoon, he never had to earn anything and so forth.’ Frankly, I was born with a silver spoon, which is the greatest gift you can have: which is to get born in America.”
Again, how is this a radical departure from Republican rhetoric over the last 2 years? Didn’t we just see the GOP convention where they trotted out prominent Latino politicians (Susana Martinez and Marco Rubio) in a half – hearted attempt to earn Latino votes while at the same time pushing through policies that are an anathema to most Latino voters? Latinos are simply another group that the GOP wants votes from but doesn’t really care to court (like African Americans in the late 90s and early 2000s).
The point is fairly clear. While Mitt Romney is going to take a brutal hit for his comments, and apparently there are even worse ones coming from additional video that will be released on Wednesday or Thursday they may not radically alter the campaign. To anyone who has actually been listening to Republicans all year, and Mitt Romney in particular nothing that he said is new, or shocking or even contrary to much Republican thinking. Most Republicans think that Obama supporters are silly welfare nabbing zombies. Most Republicans think that minorities are commodities to be traded in politics. And for this reason, this video certainly won’t cost Mitt Romney any Republican votes, if anything many in the base might appreciate him finally finding his inner Rick Santorum and spewing the kind of racist, classist idealized Americana nonsense that the GOP has been peddling since 2010. Any Democrat that is thinking these videos sink Mitt Romney doesn’t understand the Republican base. 47% of the country will STILL vote for him, and some of them might even like the fact that we’ve finally seen the REAL Mitt Romney. A man who, after 18 months of pretending to be a financial elitist with a heart, has shown that he is just as petty, cynical and jingoistic as many in the Republican base.