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SOUND OFF: Was Romney Right About the 47 Percent, or Will This Doom his Campaign?

Mother Jones released a video of Mitt Romney telling a private audience that 47 percent of Americans are dependent on the government and will never vote for him. Was this a ruinous gaffe, or has Romney told a hard political truth?

A secret video obtained by Mother Jones magazine has rocked the political world. In that video, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said 47 percent of Americans believe they are victims, are dependent on the government and will never vote for him. He went further, saying he wasn't worried about them. The magazine released a portion of the video Monday.

In a late night press conference Monday, Romney said the comments were not "elegantly stated," but were part of a larger conversation about the role of personal responsibility. Romney went on to say the comments were a reflection on "the political process of winning an election, and, of course, I want to help all Americans—all Americans—have a bright and prosperous future."

Mother Jones posted the full video just after 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Do you think the video shows Romney's true feelings about half of the American electorate, or was this an out-of-context snippet? Will this hurt Romney's chances of willing the election, or is it one blip in a very long campaign? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

FindBalance September 21, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Forgive my memory David, but didn't Kerry shoot himself in the foot? What was his heroic act(s)? I remember he was criticized for throwing his medal at the WH...
FindBalance September 21, 2012 at 05:53 PM
None of that is relevant, David. What is much more relevant is wages vs the cost of living, and that needs to be broken down by region, since the cost of living varies from region to region. That's not brought up so much...
Chris L. September 21, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Hey David, You do realize that those statistics are skewed a little by world events at the time, right? If I recall correctly, the .com bubble burst right around the time Bush came into office. Seems like he was dealing with an economy on the downturn when he took over. But I have a hard time remembering it well. Perhaps its because Bush didn't remind us about it every time the TV cameras were on. Face it, Obama is setting a poor example for the leaders of tomorrow. Didn't turn things around in time? Blame the last guy. I love how Democrats were so happy to be "getting rid of Bush". Thanks to the Constitution, he was going away anyway! There are actually term limits on the presidency! Many Democrats dislike the Constitution though. So I'm sure they didn't read up on that part.
FindBalance September 21, 2012 at 06:00 PM
So Charles - who gets to say how much someone gets to keep - the govt?! That leads to the govt meting out to its citizens, while those in govt keep the riches (and power) for themselves. That didn't work so well in the former Soviet Union? (That's why they're "former".)
FindBalance September 21, 2012 at 06:01 PM
None of that is relevant, David. What is much more relevant is wages vs the cost of living, and that needs to be broken down by region, since the cost of living varies from region to region. That's not brought up so much...
Chris L. September 21, 2012 at 06:03 PM
David. You're in Academia. You're closer to Warren than to a "working American". With all of your schooling and education, you feel that you should be helping to take care of the people in society who have no desire to learn, grow, and do things for themselves? Sure, there are fully able people in need of social programs, but what about those who feel that Obama is just in office to hand out money to those that don't feel like working? Also, did you check the "optional tax" box on your last return?
FindBalance September 21, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Is it fair – or right – for the govt to take from someone who makes $6M to pay the way for the family who makes $60k, just because they have the money? They already do support the $60k family, and disproportionately so; now you want to ratchet up the $6M family’s taxes “just a little more”. Besides, in America the only one putting the $60k family in the position that they are struggling are themselves. There are many options (under more typical economic conditions) for them in this country, including spending less, and bettering themselves, working harder, or getting another job to make more. That’s how many families in my generation got to live the American Dream, including my family growing up – if we needed more money to smooth out a rough patch, my father took on a part time job. Are you telling me the work ethic in America has been replaced by a “someone else (govt or “rich” people) need to contribute more to my standard of living” attitude?
FindBalance September 21, 2012 at 07:10 PM
I thought it was brilliant insight, Natalie - brief, accurate, to the point.
Annie Libbey September 21, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Findbalance It sounds like it might surprise you to know that there are hard-working families in the current economy who are only bringing in $60K. I believe the national median household income is in that ballpark. So do you believe that most American families who are currently struggling have brought that upon themselves? because that's the implication of your post. We all know that there are those looking for handouts but I believe that most American families are hardworking. My family is fortunate to have maintained our income throughout this tough economy but I have friends and neighbors who are educated, hardworking and still struggling. I know of one family bringing in about $80K doing exactly what you said your family did to get by. Two parents juggling three jobs and childcare with neighbors helping out when one has to leave for work before the other gets home. They neither expect or desire a handout from anyone. So don't assume that the family living on $60K has a poor work ethic. Incomes for many have been flat in this economy. I have a sister with a master's degree doing very meaningful work, raising a child alone (no child support) and her income is in this exact range.
FindBalance September 21, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Annie - I excepted the current economy when I said "under more typical economic conditions". If there were more jobs, then I'm sure salaries would be higher and so many of the people you know would have a lot more options. That does not come from govt spending money to create jobs - it comes from private sector creating jobs. And how far $60k goes depends on where you live in the country. Around here, it doesn't go far, but the answer isn't to tax people who happen to have a lot of money. I would rather see the govt spend less, then there wouldn't be the need for higher taxes.
Paul Gentile September 21, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Our salaries are taxed at a much higher rate than the investment income. For example, tax rate on $50k salary...26%, tax rate on $50k inheritance from parents ... 24%, tax rate on $50k from Megabucks - 25%, capital gains ... 15%! If I make a million in salary ... 35% ... a million in the stock market ... 15%.
David Nolta September 21, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Chris L.-- I stopped reading FindBalance's pompous but inane posts some time ago--but I was holding out for you. Now, EVERYTHING ELSE ASIDE--politics, those comfortable stereotypes that make it easy for you to pretend you KNOW a person if you track down their job or their credentials--ALL THAT ASIDE, is it likely--is it conceivable--that I would discuss the details of my taxes with a person known to me as Chris L? Get real!!!! I heard an interesting statistic yesterday. In the year that the last Republican president took office, working American wages increased by an almost insignificant .6% (that's six TENTHS of one percent), while executive wages increased by 16% (SIXTEEN percent). Are we or are we not all in this together? Do we or do we not share in the ups AND downs of the economy? Not so much, under the last Republican regime. Obama 2012--the only hope for working Americans.
FindBalance September 21, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Wow David - you have crossed the line into the gutter. Disparaging a fellow poster like this, really low. Just throw out that my posts are pompous and inane (which I leave to every reader to determine for themselves how they feel about my postings, without your help, thank you), maybe it will stick and discredit my postings - right? You are bright enough, David, to challenge my postings, but instead you chose to chose Alinsky character assasination tactics - very disappointing.
CharlesHaughey September 21, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Thank you David !! Keeping it to the facts that really matter. If I didn't know better FindBalance sounds awfully like Scott Brown.
David Nolta September 22, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Thanks Charles! It's only recently that I started to notice the correlation between personal attacks and anonymous posters--the latter are most often guilty of the former, you will find. There are honorable exceptions (UglyHat, for example, who doesn't use his anonymity as a weird sort of cover for personal attacks). How anyone can respond to my saying that I heard a statistic about the economy, the fact that, in 2003, working American wages increased by an almost insignificant .6% (that's six TENTHS of one percent), while executive wages increased by 16% (SIXTEEN percent), with a personal inquiry into my taxes or some other personal attack is, to me (a self-avowed academic), downright bizarre. By the way, the statistic comes from the book Meet You In Hell, by Les Standiford, a fascinating account of the lifelong association between American business titans Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie. That's another thing a lot of the anonymous posters don't believe in--referencing or backing up their claims, many of which will consequently strike readers as invented--so why read them?
Deb Spence September 22, 2012 at 02:45 AM
What has always confused me is the concept that lower taxes would lead to more jobs. After 12 years of "Bush tax cuts" we are still dealing with an 8percent unemployment rate. I'm in favor of aflat tax on all income and investment
David Nolta September 22, 2012 at 02:56 AM
And one more thing that I found topical in the book about Frick and Carnegie--two capitalists who certainly helped to create the way we define capitalism in this country (with both the good and the bad connotations the term suggests) today. When he was still very poor, Andrew Carnegie began to build his fortune by borrowing five hundred dollars. That's right, it was wise borrowing that ultimately led to the creation of unprecedented riches. (I know from elsewhere that the same can be said of other famous fortunes: the Rothschild wealth, for example). President Clinton understood this concept very well--borrowing in order to create jobs, to create the conditions and the opportunity (yes, through social programs, education, new technologies which are only thinkable if the money goes into creating them) to SOLVE economic problems. Lowering taxes on the richest dippers into the communal wealth has failed over and over again to create jobs or help to balance the budget. Bill Clinton was able to do both because he knew how to borrow wisely.
Linda Worthy September 22, 2012 at 04:08 AM
David -- it just occurred to me that 'Find balance' is actually that blog master from Westboro.
David Nolta September 22, 2012 at 04:36 AM
Linda--I'm intrigued!! I still can't read him (?) after that last crack about a distinguished (and yes, highly decorated) former member of the Armed Services. What's the point, really? But I'm intrigued by your theory...
Linda Worthy September 22, 2012 at 04:42 PM
David! Did you catch Ann Romney on Iowa Radio? Referring to the criticism hubby has taken, she said: "Stop it. This is hard. You want to try it? Get in the ring," Comments from The Atlantic including a link to the audio is here: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/09/ann-romney-its-hard/262709/ From The Atlantic article: "Running for president is hard, but there is one thing harder. That's what happens if you win." "True as it might have been, Mrs. Romney's "break" was also sad and damaging. Self-pity is doom for candidates." But I agree with Ann: Mitt should stop being his own Joe Biden. (I'm stealing that line from someone else -- can't find it now).
Linda Worthy September 22, 2012 at 05:43 PM
David - I'm convinced that Find balance is Westboro Jimmy. If you were able to read FB's posts, you would notice the same themes & arrogance as Westboro Jimmy. The serial posting on this blog is his trademark. His current Westboro blog bottomed out at less than 100 posts so he must be feeling neglected and came here under a fraudulent name. On his Westboro blog, he repeatedly blew his own horn saying he posted his name and his photo and what a brave & noble soul he was and now he's a fraud. I was reading the FB stuff and was sensing some similarity to other posts but couldn't pin it down. Then you called FB pompous and the light bulb came on. We'll have to watch for his next fraudulent name. You probably didn't see it, but Westboro Jimmy has twice used his blog to shill for a book he published. He once crowed about having a blog with 300 posts without mentioning that half of those were his own posts. He imagines that he has legions (he actually said 'hundreds') of followers who are unenrolled/independent voters who follow his blog closely but are unwilling to post because some liberal 'would call them something ending in 'ist'." Perhaps you and I should assume fraudulent names (and photos) and post to his Westboro blog pretending to be sympathetic to his positon. The best comment I saw on his blog was a friend of his telling Jimmy that it was time for him to go back to work. Find balance = Westboro Jimmy. Let's send him a teddy bear so he won't be lonely.
Chris L. September 22, 2012 at 09:20 PM
David-- When you are a published member of academia, then use your full name AND picture on here to post, you are subject to any comments that may come your way. Don't like it? Use a pseudonym on here, or in the real world. Do I offend you with my assessments of you? I'm willing to bet I hit too close to home, hence the snapping at me. As far as inane and pompous postings, your inability to classify your own leftist rantings as inane and pompous is laughable.
David Nolta September 22, 2012 at 09:46 PM
We are ALL, even those who squawk and hide, subject to any comments that may come our way! And I am glad that we both give each other a good laugh. As far as my abilities, you are in no better position to judge those than you are to offend me. But I will promise you this: IF I am still reading your funny little posts when and IF you hit home, I will let you know. Now don't you have some studying to do?
Ron Goodenow September 22, 2012 at 10:31 PM
A couple of points. Several of us have pushed for some time for Patch to require the use of real, verifiable, names. Unlike most publications of their kind, they are actually going in the other direction. Remember folks, they make money on clicks. Now as to academics and real people, I was an academic for many years and probably spent thousands of hours working with schools, families in urban communities, etc.in several countries (oh and Chris, have several books and many articles in academic and even corporate publications) I find it deliciously ironic that Obama, a community involved organizer, is damned because he was interested in Saul Alinsky (who influenced people and had friends across a broad spectrum), but Romney, who wouldn't know a working class person from a giraffe and puts many in his wonderful 47%, where I suspect I am as a a retired Independent drawing social security, gets a pass. I think literate comments here are welcome regardless of educational level and I do respect people like Jim H, David, Andy and others who do use their names and are willing to be on the line for whatever mud gets flung at them.
Linda Worthy September 22, 2012 at 11:15 PM
It occurs to me that there is a huge downside to Obama to winning in November. We would have to endure FOUR MORE YEARS of Romney running for President. Perhaps he could guest host on "Dirty Jobs" and get acquainted with some of the 47%.
Ron Goodenow September 22, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Oh Linda, you are discounting the wonderful entertainment of watching Romney's party come apart at the seams. Though if you were to read Peggy Noonan, the editor of the Nat Review, Joe Scarborough, and a host of GOP gurus, pundits and office holders the appetizers are already on the table and the knives are being sharpened some more. As for Romney, he'll be another Tom Dewey and be lucky if he can sit on his Wolfeboro dock.
Linda Worthy September 23, 2012 at 01:25 AM
I have read Noonan and Scarborough. On Thursday, Noonan said she was just being polite when she said Romney's campaign was "incompetent" -- what she meant to say was that it was a "rolling calamity". I have also heard of several Republicans who are up for re-election, including Brown, running swiftly away from Romney's 47%. Indeed, the knives are being sharpened. I might worry, however, that Romney would buy the whole damn lake & privatize it. But there is also some regret here. I do not want to see the Republican party vaporized. We need two parties, if not three. There are some good people who happen to be Republicans. I don't agree with their politics but I do hope some of them can resurrect the party -- or start their own -- and be free of the extremists. Hillary in 2016 !!!!
Ron Goodenow September 23, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Linda, here is the best single piece I have read from a conservative critic: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/michael-gerson-a-republican-mind-set-without-promise/2012/09/20/798901f8-0344-11e2-91e7-2962c74e7738_story.html I don't know where the talent is. There are folks who wish Brown was in another state, but after his character attacks on Warren the other night I think he is just another sad story of a good person having too much conservative gas. Or whatever it is that goes into those anatomical tailpipes. I liked him til he went with Blunt. Terrible amendment. Careless and lazy, and it will cost him. I do no know where these guys get the idea that they are so morally superior.
Linda Worthy September 23, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Ron, I read Gerson's article several times. I think he illustrated the Republican's problem -- at least as I see it -- and a path to their possible resurrection, very succinctly. I hope that after November, this line of thinking takes hold with many Republicans.
* September 24, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Wow!! The Election Day this year will be yet, another Powerful Day in Our Nation's History! Let us see, if it will turn out as many as it did four years ago? Where's Ross Perot when you need him? Make a great day happen, whenever you can now! Enjoy!

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