Mother Theresa famously observed that she knew God would never give her a heavier burden than she could carry, but she sometimes wished He didn’t have so much confidence in her.
I wonder if Mitt Romney can relate.
It has been a tough month for Mitt Romney. The last thing to go right for him was his wife speaking at the Republican National Convention. Many pundits believed her appearance was necessary to humanize him and show that Mitt has a heart. Since then, his words have demonstrated the latter.
That’s not fair. Although I don’t know him, I’d bet Romney is a good man. If I had $500 million in the bank, I’d be sitting on some tropical island drinking fruity drinks, trying to get invited to a Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie shindig. To his credit, Romney has worked tirelessly to become elected president because he thinks he can make this country better. You have to give him an “A” for civic responsibility.
Unfortunately, he’s getting a “D” in running presidential campaigns—and that goes back to 2007. And his latest statement doesn’t help a person who is trying to prove he relates to middle-class Americans. At a recent Florida fundraiser, and some uber-rich guy’s home, Mitt 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 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'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. My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
That message might play well on Rush Limbaugh’s EIB network but likely will not play as well to the unemployed suburbanite collecting unemployment benefits. That person looking for work—or who has recently found work but took benefits—will ask: Does Mitt Romney understand what it is like to be downsized? That question, unfortunately for Romney, reminds voters of a larger question: how does a man responsible for downsizing American jobs relate to the downsized?
Another thing the statement does is piss off his opponents. There is an enthusiasm gap in Obama’s 2012 campaign that wasn’t there in 2008. Some voters may skip going to the polls. Many Obama voters—that 47%-- could be swayed by another candidate. However, the more Romney speaks, the more Romney makes the case that he is not that candidate. He completely screwed up in his response to the Libyan terrorist attack; there are leaks that his campaign is in disarray; all while President Bill Clinton gave Obama a nice post-convention bounce in the polls.
President Obama’s campaign has been trying to define Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch, rich guy who absolutely cannot relate to the lives and struggles of middle class Americans. Romney’s big problem is that he defines himself as an out-of-touch rich guy who absolutely cannot relate to the lives and struggles of middle-class Americans. Mitt Romney probably wants to go back to the 19th century style presidential campaigns where it was deemed uncouth for the candidate to campaign for himself. Most every time he speaks, he ends up having to explain what he meant to say.
Unfortunately for the Romney campaign, people are starting to make up their minds. Although a day in politics is like a lifetime, since the Democratic National Convention, Romney’s surrogates have been pointing ahead to the October debates as the game changer. Romney better hope that his mouth doesn’t turn off 3.5% of the electorate before those debates begin.