Campaigns and Candid Cameras

I’d like to discuss Mitt Romney’s “47%” comments from a contextual standpoint.  Not focusing on the number 47 and its derivation, but instead focusing on what question he was answering.

I went to the progressive Mother Jones website to find the full transcript of the full video.  Then I went to the portion of the transcript that has been aired extensively regarding the 47% comments.  I was mostly interested in seeing what the dang question was…which hasn’t been included in most of the media coverage I’ve seen.  Here’s the full question and answer up to the point where the recording reportedly stopped momentarily:

[Audience member:] For the last three years, all everybody’s been told is, “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you.” How are you going to do it, in two months before the elections, to convince everybody you’ve got to take care of yourself?

[Romney:] There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49, 48—he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. And he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people—I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the 5 to 10 percent in the center that are independents that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not, what it looks like. I mean, when you ask those people…we do all these polls—I find it amazing—we poll all these people, see where you stand on the polls, but 45 percent of the people will go with a Republican, and 48 or 4…

[Recording stops.]

Let’s go to the sentence that seems to have everyone the most ticked off:  “And so my job is not to worry about those people….“  I believe all the people who are upset have taken this sentence to mean he wouldn’t care about 47% of Americans if he became President.  Here’s my response:  He wasn’t talking about what he’d do as President, and he didn’t mean he’s not worried about the plight of those 47%.

Go back to the question please.  He was asked what he’s got to do in the two months before the election to convince people, the ones dependent to a significant degree upon big government, to vote for him.  The question and his answer had nothing to do with what he’d do or who he’d worry about AFTER he’s elected, as the liberal spin doctors want everyone to believe.  In that video, he was asked and he’s answering about who he should “worry” about “convincing” during the critical phase of the campaign.

Let’s be real for a moment:  ANY competent politician (or business leader) understands his/her demographics, and chooses which segments of voters or consumers to focus limited resources and time on.  For example, do you think President Obama is spending a single dime or minute worrying about how Evangelical Christians or National Rifle Association members will vote?  Of course not, and if I were in his shoes I wouldn’t either.

Since competent politicians understand their favorable and non-favorable demographics, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Barack Obama was someday videotaped saying something dismissive about Evangelical Christians and NRA members during a campaign…something that reveals he thinks it would be a waste of his time to try to convince them to vote for him.


As a matter of fact, he did actually say something like that.  It was the April 2008 “…it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion…” comment:

The liberal media and the far-left Mother Jones didn’t hyperventilate over Mr. Obama’s candid comments back in the 2008 campaign.  But they’re sure hyperventilating over Romney’s comments, aren’t they?

Double Standard.

I acknowledge it was a political stumble.  It was verbal clumsiness from Romney.  Yesterday he admitted he was totally wrong.  But I do not believe it was an “attack” on the 47%.

It was campaign strategy realism, candidly expressed.


(photo credit)  (photo credit)


About Necessary and Proper

Jeff believes in the Individual's ability to excel when liberty and freedom of choice are protected. Also believes in the Community's ability to take care of the vast majority of its own issues and needs when the federal government leaves the Community's resources and sphere of control alone. State and local choice produce better results than centralized federal control.
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3 Responses to Campaigns and Candid Cameras

  1. BradsDrift says:

    Actually, I agree with you. People are getting in an uproar about the comment “And so my job is not to worry about those people….“. Especially when you find out what the question is… it is unfortunate that BOTH SIDES use this half truth, half baked manipulation of words… which I feel really just manipulates the populous and contributes to the voting public’s apathy toward elections, getting involved and caring about the process of how our government runs. Thank you for providing a place that will at least expose one of those sides – I have other sources to expose the conservative side.

    What breaks my heart most about Romney’s statement isn’t necessarily what he is addressing – how do you get votes… but his apparent underlying feelings about “those people”. Victims…. believe they are entitled to everything “you name it”…. don’t take personal responsibility… don’t care for their lives…

    It is clear to me that Romney (and many others in this country as evidenced by the person asking how Romey will convince them to “take care of yourself”) have not been, nor really known or cared for people who do not pay income tax. The people I know, by and large, in this situation are exactly opposite of the characteristics Romney lists. Exceptions that I have seen are those that have alcohol and drug dependencies or mental health issues.

    What I can deduce from his understanding of “those people” is that whether or not he “cares for them”, he doesn’t understand the issues that face people in these situations. Therefore, it is clear to me that he will be unable to fix or even try to address it. If one cannot fix or address the issues facing 47% of the nation…. is that one fit to be President?

    The answer may or may not have anything to do “big government” but it seems clear to me that effort is needed to provide something akin to a mission trip for those that believe there is a huge segment of the US population that just sits around as victims, irresponsible, and not caring about their lives. Maybe by spending some quality time together, we will realize that we are in this thing together and come up with some effective solutions to get our country strong and ready for the many more serious issues facing us in the next 25 to 50 years.

    Brad –


  2. Brad, it’s funny that even when you agree with me, you seem to disagree with me. You rarely give me anything specific to latch onto and specifically reply about. You express an overarching “funk” mood about government, leaving me guessing what lies 1 or 2 layers underneath your general malaise.

    Let’s get one thing out of the way quickly. Your pessimistic train of logic led you to say “Therefore, it is clear to me that he [Romney] will be unable to fix or even try to address it. If one cannot fix or address the issues facing 47% of the nation…. is that one fit to be President?” So you’re allowing the spin-meisters to make your mind up for you that easily, Brad? I assert you’ve come to a totally wrong conclusion. Please watch RNC 2012: Grant Bennett Details Mitt Romney’s Devotion to Service, Faith.

    Here’s what’s going on in my opinion, Brad…not just between you and me, but with this whole debate about entitlements & welfare. I’m going to admittedly make up a number when I guess that roughly two thirds of the people on welfare are truly needy (some long term, some short term), while the other third is (to varying degrees) scamming the system and/or not really trying very hard to get back to self-suffiency. So my (and Romney’s) anecdotes are expressing frustration about the 1/3 of people who don’t belong riding on the backs of taxpayers. (Yes I know Romney pretty much said that all 47% are that category…I already acknowledged his exaggeration, and so did he.) Then you hear my frustration and feel that I’m being uncompassionate about the 2/3. Meanwhile, I hear you express your compassion about the 2/3, but as I listen, I’m focusing on my frustration about the 1/3. So your continued insistence that government must find a way to solve the 2/3-side of the problem irritates me, because I’m primarily focusing on the 1/3-side of the problem. Until we all can split the thing into the two different parts, WHICH NEED DIFFERENT SOLUTIONS, we’re all going to just be frustrated and pointing fingers.

    Conservatism is more than just the “red color” of the platform of one of the major parties in America…one of two parties that you’re utterly frustrated at because neither can find government answers to the problems you worry about. Conservatism is also a broad philosophy of “restraint” about government and of faith in the ability of individuals to achieve prosperity on their own if unhindered. It believes in the power of individuals, families, congregations, private charity, and local/state governments (closer to the people than Washington D.C.) to solve their own problems FAR more efficiently than a massive federal government can or should. And that’s a problem-solving philosophy that is far less likely to have the unintended consequence of long-term welfare dependency. Unfortunately any politician that dares to talk about the tendency of government subsidies/welfare to cause long-term dependency and a feeling of “victimhood” and “entitlement” then faces criticism from liberals/progressives about their lack of compassion and caring about lower income people.

    Brad, if you’re not open to getting out of the anecdotal trees of pessimism and learning about the broader forest of the philosophy of government and human nature, please just say so and I’ll stop trying to “help” you. Right now, it just seems like you’re stubbornly oblivious to the main point of the ideology of conservatism: That government can’t and shouldn’t be expected to eliminate all want and need from the populace. It is simple human nature that trying to do so results in a sense of dependency that then snowballs into fiscal insolvency. That’s the nucleus of the debate right there, Brad. It’s what I’ve created this blog to try to explain. As I said previously, if you’re discovering that you no longer agree with that main girder (limited government & individual responsibility) underneath all the other planks of the conservative platform, I’m not sure what more I can tell you. I’m making the best points I know how to make, dude.

    – Jeff


  3. Pingback: Are you going to watch the debate? | burningbush96

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