Romney says, "I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair , I'll fix it. I'm not concerned about the very rich.... I'm concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling."
O'Brien asked him to clarify his remarks saying, "There are lots of very poor Americans who are struggling who would say, 'That sounds odd.'"
Romney continues, "We will hear from the Democrat party, the plight of the poor.... You can focus on the very poor, that's not my focus.... The middle income Americans, they're the folks that are really struggling right now and they need someone that can help get this economy going for them."
This is just so much more evidence of exactly what I was explaining in a post Monday, when I said that Mitt Romney has the worst chance of beating Obama in November because he cedes the Republicans' biggest advantage going into the general election. The overall disrepair of the economy is Obama's biggest liability right now, but run a Wall Street fat cat, bailout baby like Mitt Romney (who also "likes" to lay off workers) and you will turn that liability into an asset for Obama.
Even pretty vanilla conservatives on publications that I would call pretty establishment, are taking shots at Mitt Romney for this gaffe. At National Review Online, Jonah Goldberg wrote a piece entitled What's Wrong With This Guy? saying:
Congratulations to Mitt Romney for his big win last night. It was a win that, Romney supporters hoped, would help bury concerns about his ability to seal the deal to do what it takes. But I’m not so sure. If you’re a straight-laced grown-up with money to burn, burying Newt Gingrich shouldn’t be that hard. Romney talked about the economy, Newt about lunar statehood (which I favor!). Romney drowned Gingrich in negative ads and Gingrich supplied endless fodder for the accurate ones and plausibility for the inaccurate ones. Was that really the test of his political chops everyone is saying?
As a bunch of us have been writing around here for a while, the under-emphasized dynamic in this race isn’t that Romney isn’t conservative enough (though that’s obviously a real concern out there) it’s that he’s simply not a good enough politician. He may be the most electable on paper. He’s certainly a nice guy, decent father, smart, successful etc. But, every time he seems to get into his groove and pull away he says things that make people think he doesn’t know how to play the game...
...there are plenty of things one could say to defend Romney on the merits of what he says here. But great politicians on the morning after a big win, don’t force their supporters to go around defending the candidate from the charge that he doesn’t care about the poor. They just don’t.
Then at the Weekly Standard, we have this:
Fresh off his big win in Florida Tuesday night, Mitt Romney made the most stunningly stupid remark of his campaign...
A candidate can say he's "focused" on the middle class without saying he's "not concerned" about the very poor, just as a candidate can say he's "focused" on the economy without saying he's "not concerned" about national security or even less vital issues like education.
But Romney's remark isn't merely tone-deaf, it's also un-conservative. The standard conservative argument is that a conservative economic agenda will help everyone. For the poor, that means getting as many as possible back on their feet and working rather than languishing as wards of the welfare state...
Had Mitt Romney picked up his conservatism sooner, perhaps he would know these arguments by heart.
Mitt Romney's number one appeal, his main argument as a candidate is that he's the safe one. He's the polished one. He's the guy that can beat Obama. And he's obviously not any of these things. Want to run a rich, Wall Street, bailout recipient who doesn't care about the poor and likes firing people against Obama during these bad economic times? Go ahead. Make Obama's day.
Every Republican candidate other than Romney who has enjoyed a moment in the spotlight as the party's possible savior has seen their star fall the more voters actually got to realize just what a liability they'd be to the Republican Party. Maybe Mitt Romney's time has finally come.
Editor in Chief, THL
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