Mitt Romney Has Deleted All Files Related To '47%' Speech, Please Search Again
Sometimes, when we don't already feel like we're living in a Philip K. Dick novel, we try imagining what the world would be like if Mitt Romney had been elected last year. Happily, Mitt is always happy to indulge us with hints for that grimdark fan fiction, like for instancetoday's David Corn article about Mitt's stunning amnesia when it comes to the worst of his many self-inflicted campaign failures, his infamous "47% speech." If nothing else, he's at least consistent: He never believed he said anything wrong during the campaign, either, though he did admit his dancing horsecrap was "inelegantly stated" and also claimed that the tape had been "misleadingly edited" (it hadn't). Even after losing the 2012 election, Romney appears unaware of what he said or why you people had a problem with it.
The latest implausible denials come from a WaPo excerpt of Dan Balz's campaign postmortem Collision 2012, from which we'd previously learned that Mitt had voted against himself in a family poll and that Rick Perry and Herman Cain shared a pre-debate Moment of Derp in a men's restroom. This time around, Mitt claims that his first horrible tone-deaf press conference, the day the story broke, was only tone-deaf and horrible because he wasn't quite sure what was on the tape:
[Romney] was in California and said at first he couldn’t get a look at the video. His advisers were pushing him to respond as quickly as he could. "As I understood it, and as they described it to me, not having heard it, it was saying, 'Look, the Democrats have 47 percent, we’ve got 45 percent, my job is to get the people in the middle, and I’ve got to get the people in the middle,'" he said. "And I thought, 'Well, that’s a reasonable thing.'... It's not a topic I talk about in public, but there's nothing wrong with it. They've got a bloc of voters, we've got a bloc of voters, I've got to get the ones in the middle.
In other words, he's saying that he thought the percentages were only about vote breakdowns, and that he thought a videotape of him saying so was ... huh, so controversial that it needed an immediate emergency press statement? But as Corn points out, since he's the one who broke the story, "an article accompanied the video with a transcript of what Romney had said," including that stuff about how almost half of the country are a bunch of moochers. It was kind of a big deal at the time, and you'd kind of think Romney may have been aware of it.
Romney then falls back on the idea that what he'd said -- that 47 percent of voters who are "dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims" and all that -- had simply been misinterpreted:
The president said he's writing off 47 percent of Americans and so forth. And that wasn't at all what was intended. That wasn't what was meant by it. That is the way it was perceived.
We are guessing that had something with the way Romney said
"[M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
Which could easily be mistaken for "writing people off," somehow. but Mitt is even impervious to direct quotes:
Balz tried to point this out: "But when you said there are 47 percent who won't take personal responsibility—." Romney interrupted: "Actually, I didn’t say that... That's how it began to be perceived, and so I had to ultimately respond to the perception, because perception is reality."
You see, this direct quote from the video is actually inaccurate, Mitt explains, because he has a note on his iPad that includes the question that prompted the statement. Someone asked him how he expected to convince all those people dependent on the government that they need to take care of themselves, and he explains to Balz that all that stuff about people not taking responsibility for their own lives was really just him explaining that he simply wasn't going to get their votes:
No, no. I'm saying 47 percent of the people don't pay taxes and therefore they don’t warm to our tax message. But the people who are voting for the president, my job isn't to try and get them. My job is to get the people in the middle. And I go on and say that. Take a look. Look at the full quote. But I realized, look, perception is reality. The perception is I'm saying I don’t care about 47 percent of the people or something of that nature, and that's simply wrong.
Mitt, we've all seen the full quote. The full quote killed your campaign. We are very grateful for the full quote, in fact. And as Corn points out, Romney's case isn't really helped by adding the question from a rich guy asking what can be done about all these leeches who aren't pulling their weight:
Romney answered by essentially agreeing with the premise of the question. Ever the spreadsheet guy, he put a number on it: 47 percent. And he threw up his hands and said he could neither win over these Americans as voters or persuade them to be responsible adults. They were lost on both counts.
But Mitt Romney is the real victim here, with people unfairly quoting his exact words. He knows a thing or two about responsibility, and if it weren't for that darn hurricane that made Obama look all presidential, he probably could have made everyone love him.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.