Mitt Romney is known for putting his foot in his mouth. But when the liberal magazine Mother Jones posted the video of the 2012 Republican presidential nominee calling 47% of Obama voters “freeloaders,” political junkies, average Americans, and campaign strategists gasped.
Click here to watch the video secretly taped at a private Florida fundraiser.
The main purpose of the Republican National Convention which I covered was to introduce the former governor of Massachusetts to the American public. Until then, the campaign focused on Romney’s management experience in government, at the helm of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, and at investment firm Bain Capital, arguing this will make him a better President than Barack Obama. The focus in Tampa went heavy on the Romney warm fuzzies, with testimony after testimony affirming he is a loving father, loyal friend, and devoted husband to wife Ann who survived breast cancer and battles muscular dystrophy. The softer side of Romney culminated with a revelation in a CNN documentary that he wears and likes shirts bought at Costco. The argument: he not only has the experience to lead the country, but he’s a nice, trustworthy guy.
Insert sound of scratching music album!
Any positive, humanizing effects from the convention were totally erased by the Mother Jones video, an “October, or in this case a September surprise” which in politics means a last minute game-changing doozie that comes before the election. All of a sudden, the class warfare that Republicans have accused President Obama of waging seemed to be spearheaded by Romney. Any damage was not done by the Democrats but by the former governor himself, whose own words seemed to confirm that he belongs to the so-called 1%–the richest of the rich–with zero ability to relate or connect with the struggles and needs of average Americans.
That leads us the the “Juan” %, a tongue-in-cheek term that came up when Mitt Romney’s Mexican roots received at the beginning of the year a lot of media attention (his Papi, former Michigan governor and American Motors Company CEO George was born in Mexico as I write in Election 2012: ¿Mitt or Mitteo Romney?).
On Wednesday night, the GOP presidential nominee was the first to appear in back-to-back candidate forums on Univision (President Obama’s turn is Thursday night) and when asked about the 47% comments, promised his campaign is for all Americans.
“My campaign is about the 100 percent of America,” affirmed Governor Romney a total of four times.
Then he went hard of immigration, promising to expand legal immigration, not rounding up illegal immigrants, and expanding a permanent solution for DREAMers–all direct hits to President Obama’s policies. Romney also promised to strengthen the economy by investing in education, especially the STEM or science, technology, and math fields, and helping small businesses.
Was Mitt Romney able to make headway with Latino voters? Recent polls suggest the gap has widened. The latest Fox News Latino survey has the President beating Romney 2 to 1. The gender gap dwarfs these numbers with Latinas preferring Mr. Obama at a head-spinning 6 to 1 margin, according to the most recent ImpreMedia/Latino Decisions poll.
Romney’s own campaign has crunched the numbers and come up with the magic number of 38%–that’s the percentage of the Hispanic vote the Republican nominee must win to be elected President of the United States. But the latest surveys, combined with his 47% comments, suggest this may a difficult if not an impossible dream.
This post was first published as Election 2012: Mitt Romney’s Mother Jones Video & What It Means for His Campaign on September 20, 2012 in Latina Magazine where I am a weekly politics columnist.
To read more of Viviana’s Election 2012 columns in Latina, click here.Which Mitt Romney do you believe will show up for “work” if he is elected in January? 1%, 47%, or 100% Romney?