The scoop seems to belong to David Corn of Mother Jones, “SECRET VIDEO: Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He Really Thinks of Obama Voters“:
During a private fundraiser earlier this year, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a small group of wealthy contributors what he truly thinks of all the voters who support President Barack Obama. He dismissed these Americans as freeloaders who pay no taxes, who don’t assume responsibility for their lives, and who think government should take care of them. Fielding a question from a donor about how he could triumph in November, Romney replied:
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.
Romney goes on to say that such moochers can never be convinced “to take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
So with the release of this video, it seems Mitt Romney has shifted from worrying that 47 percent of the country would never vote for him to ensuring that 47 percent of the country would never vote for him.
Josh Marshall tries to make sense of this, saying “Mitt seems to string together a handful of really distinct conservative talking points — and in a way that makes you think he just heard them in a fragmentary way and pasted them together without any clear sense of what he was saying.”
It is true that President Obama has enjoyed the steady support of about 47 percent of the country throughout his first term. It is also true that if you add up everyone who’s retired, still in school or working poor — i.e., people who don’t owe federal income taxes — that this is also about 47 percent of the country. (Or, rather, it peaked at 47 percent following the 2008 financial crisis.)
But it’s really weird to suggest, as Romney does, that this is the same 47 percent.
Last time I checked, there were plenty of senior citizens who are also Republicans. And those folks don’t take kindly to being told they’re “dependent” on government, or that they’re whiny moochers with a sense of entitlement.
No one likes being accused of that. Not senior citizens, not students, not the working poor. Not Democrats, or Republicans, or Independents.
Ari Kohen wonders why Romney even wants to be president: “Why would you want to be president of a country when you hold almost half of the citizenry in utter contempt?”
Josh Barro thinks the “combination of contempt and pity that Romney shows for anyone who isn’t going to vote for him” will be politically disastrous.
Ed Kilgore wonders what will be more harmful to the Romney campaign: “the video … or the ‘Hell yes!’ reactions to it from the rawer elements of the conservative chattering classes.”
“Romney’s theory of the ‘taker class,'” Ezra Klein says, is “core to his economic agenda.” The idea that America is divided between “makers” and “takers” isn’t true, Klein writes, but “Behind this argument, however, is a very clever policy two-step that’s less about who pays taxes now and more about who is going to pay to reduce the deficit in coming years.”
Conservative Ramesh Ponnuru agrees that Romney’s “makers vs. takers” idea is false. It is also, he says, bad politics: “most people don’t see themselves in that storyline, any more than they see themselves as dependents of the federal government. They don’t see Americans as divided between makers and takers.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates says Romney’s remarks remind him “of Lee Atwater’s famous explanation of the Southern Strategy.”
Coates ends on an unexpectedly hopeful note. “When the party of white populism finds itself writing off half the country,” he writes, “we are really close.”
Charlie Pierce is less hopeful. Now that Romney has “declared a class war on himself,” Pierce says, “There’s really only one campaign left to him now”:
Unfortunately for American politics, that means only one thing. It’s going to get extraordinarily dirty extraordinarily fast. There is going to be pale birtherism and barely covert racism. The body of Ambassador Christopher Stevens is going to be exhumed and used as a bludgeon. There is going to be poor-baiting, and gay-baiting, and ladyparts-baiting, and probably baiting of things I haven’t thought of yet. The polite part of the campaign is going to be Romney’s effort to convince You that he was really talking about Them when he was calling people moochers and sneak thieves. He wasn’t talking about Your Medicare or Your Social Security. Naw, he was talking about Their greed for what You have. That’s going to be the polite part of the rest of the campaign, reinforced in the lower registers by a few million in ads to make sure You remember who They are.
The full video of Romney’s remarks at the fundraiser may not be as initially damaging as his disdainful comments about the entitled moochers who think they’re victims, but as more of the speech receives attention, the rest of it won’t be good for Romney’s campaign either.
Romney’s rejection of a two-state solution in the Middle East, for example, won’t likely win him many votes. Particularly when he outlines his idea of foreign-policy leadership: “We have a potentially volatile situation but we sort of live with it, and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.”
Romney isn’t about “hope and change.” He’s about “hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen.”
- Mother Jones: “Romney Reacts to 47 Percent Video, Stands by Remarks”
- David Brooks: “Thurston Howell Romney”
- Reihan Salam: “Makers, Takers, Taxpayers, Etc.”
- David Frum: “The Sinister Message Behind Romney’s ‘Gaffe'”
- Steve Benen: “Kristol sees Romney comments as ‘stupid and arrogant'”
- Brad Plumer: “Who doesn’t pay taxes, in eight charts”
- Sheila Bapat: “The 47 Percent: Women Make Up the Majority of the Working Poor and Those Reliant on Social Security”
- Jeff Madrick: “Mitt Romney’s 47% Remarks: Wrong on the Facts, Not Just the Rhetoric”
- David Corn: “Romney ’47 Percent’ Fundraiser Host: Hedge Fund Manager Who Likes Sex Parties”
- David Gilson: “Who Was at Romney’s ’47 Percent’ Fundraiser?”
- Robert Cargill: “Mitt Romney on the Israel-Palestine Peace Process (and my response)”