Romney unscripted: Off-the-cuff comments could be a game-changerSeptember 18, 2012 11:42 AM
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney boards his campaign plane in Santa Ana, Calif., on Tuesday as he travels to Salt Lake City for campaign events. (Charles Dharapak/AP)
You can just imagine the glee of the ad makers in the Obama campaign over Mitt Romney's off-the-cuff remarks about the 47 per cent of Americans who don't pay income tax and see themselves as "victims."
For months, the Obama campaign has been selling a narrative that Mitt Romney is a candidate for wealthy Americans, that's where his sensibilities lie, that's who he'll help if he becomes president. His priority is not the middle class, let alone the poor.
Romney has pushed back hard, arguing he wants to use his business experience to help improve the lives of all Americans.
Romney unscripted sounds more like the Democrats' version of the candidate than his own. In his remarks to a private fundraiser last May in Florida, Romney admits that his election strategy does not involve winning over the 47 per cent of Americans who don't pay income taxes, who he describes as "dependent upon government," who see themselves as "victims" and "entitled."
Since these people pay no taxes, he argues, they can't be enticed to vote for him and his lower taxes platform. "My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take responsibility and care for their lives."
That's the line you can imagine covered by images of the faces of hard-working but down-and-out Americans in an anti-Romney ad.
The question is how much will it hurt.
Romney's team argues the candidate misspoke, of course he hasn't written off half the population, and that the coverage today is just a "distraction."
Barack Obama paid a political price for his secretly recorded but not meant for the public comments back in the 2008 campaign. He referred to the rural Pennsylvanians who were slow to support him as being frustrated, disappointed people who "get bitter, they cling to guns and religion."
He didn't win Pennsylvania.
Romney was referring to more than just one group in one state. He was referring to half the country.
He'll now face the inevitable ads featuring his own words, and the unavoidable questions in the upcoming presidential debates. Americans will then decide if this video was the "game-changer" the democrats say it is.