The LA Times: “Mitt Romney's presidential bid, already pushing back against suggestions that he was losing ground to President Obama, confronted more difficulty Monday when a secretly taped video showed him describing nearly half the nation's population as ‘dependent on government’ and unwilling to take responsibility for their lives. … At a hastily called news conference Monday night in Costa Mesa, where he was holding a fundraiser, Romney said that he had chosen his words poorly but he did not back away from their substance.”
The AP story: “Republican Mitt Romney is trying to head off a new distraction for his campaign after a video surfaced showing him telling wealthy donors that 47 percent of all Americans ‘believe they are victims’ entitled to help from the government that permeates their lives.”
The Boston Globe adds that the “clips play into some of the images people may already have of Romney as an out-of-touch politician. The video is reminiscent of Obama’s comment in 2008 that people ‘cling to guns or religion,’ and it is a reminder that few moments in a politician’s life are private.”
There are some differences, though, between Romney’s 47% “victims” comment and Obama’s “bitter” cling to guns or religion. One is timing -- Obama’s guns and religion comment came in April of 2008, not seven weeks before Election Day. Two is substance – while Obama was condescending, he still wanted to win over these voters and engage with them.
American Prospect: “Obama made his remarks before the primaries were over, before the public was familiar with him, and before the general election kicked into gear. What’s more, his eventual opponent—John McCain—saw no reason to capitalize on the remarks. After a brief flare, things calmed down and Obama escaped unscathed.”
It also notes there’s a difference between Romney and Obama’s comments because Obama wanted to win those voters over and engage with them, not dismiss them: “Was this inartful and condescending? Absolutely. Even still, it came from a place of compassion—Obama understands why white rural voters are arrayed against him, and sympathizes with their plight. Indeed, he said this as part of a pitch for why his supporters should attempt to engage with these voters, even if they won’t vote for him.”
As the Boston Globe’s Johnson writes: “Simply put, the Republican presidential nominee wrote off almost half the people he wants to lead as president of the United States.”
And: “Romney classified this 47 percent as those Americans who pay no federal income tax, though fact-checkers quickly noted that in roughly half of those cases, the people are senior citizens on fixed incomes, and the remainder in the group include students and members of the US military.”
Plus, there’s more nuance to these voters than Romney’s dissection. In 2008, Obama actually won those making more than $200,000 a year, and McCain and Bush won those making $50,000-$75,000, according to exit polls.
National Journal’s Tankersley: “On pure philosophy alone, Mitt Romney’s Mother Jones moment offers two revealing glimpses into why he’s trailing President Obama even in a listless economy. Both revolve around how swing voters view economic policy. … The danger of growing dependence on government - and the economic healing power of low taxes – are both themes that play very well with Republicans, presumably including the donors at the event on the tape. … The problem for Romney is, independent voters – the middle ‘5 to 10 percent’ of the electorate he talks about winning over in the fundraiser video – don’t share those views. The Pew poll found about three in five independents endorse the idea of government guaranteeing citizens food and a bed. Roughly the same number agree that government “should take care of people who can’t take care of themselves.”
Politico: “The ranks of those who don’t pay income tax has swelled because of unemployment and underemployment during the recession and the sputtering recovery. More than 13 million Americans are jobless. Also driving an increase: tax policies pushed by Republicans. The Earned Income Tax Credit, greatly expanded by Ronald Reagan in the mid-1980s, is designed to give money back to low-income workers to increase their incentive to work. And a 2004 Tax Foundation study found the Bush-era tax cuts erased the income tax for 7.8 million families by lowering rates and doubling the child tax credit. Not all of those avoiding income tax are poor, however. Even 4,000 people earning more than $1 million managed to not pay income taxes in 2011 because of deductions, according to the Tax Policy Center.”
National Journal: Mitt Romney isn’t losing because of gaffes and internal friction. But he eventually could be. Stories about campaign meltdowns are common for political operations with eroding poll numbers. But they are more a symptom of a struggling campaign than a cause of the struggles. The real danger for Romney is that the squabbles and missteps are now center stage and conveying the impression of a campaign that is flailing as it tries to oust an incumbent president.”
The New York Post: “Romney: Forget the O-ther half.”
The New York Daily News: “Romney DEFENDS telling secret meeting of fat cats 47% of Americans are freeloaders.”
“Republicans, who heard criticism about actor-director Clint Eastwood’s lecture to an empty chair at their recent convention, produced an ‘Apprentice’-style Donald Trump video that they never showed to delegates,” AP writes. “Appearing on NBC’s ‘Today’ show Tuesday, Trump confirms the video take-off on his TV show was produced at the party’s request and was to air on the first night of the convention last month in Tampa, Fla. The party had to cancel that day’s program because of the looming threat from Hurricane Isaac, and the meeting lasted only Tuesday through Thursday.”
By the way, Trump is going to be speaking at Liberty University’s convocation next week.
There was also this… Also in the videos, he calls peace between Israelis and Palestinians "almost unthinkable,” National Journal writes. “In the video, Romney responds to a question about the ‘Palestinian problem’ by saying that Palestinians have ‘no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish.’” He added, ““I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say, 'There's just no way.'" And: “you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem…and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.”
“Jimmy Carter’s grandson, James IV, is an opposition researcher who put Mother Jones reporter David Corn in touch with the anonymous source who uploaded the video of the Romney fundraiser, according to a report,” Politico writes. “ ‘I’ve been searching for clips on Republicans for a long time, almost every day,’ Carter told New York Magazine’s Daily Intel blog. ‘I just do it for fun.’”