Mitt Romney scorns Obama voters

Mitt Romney addresses the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 17 September 2012 Mitt Romney's describes why he cannot go after Mr Obama in a personal way

For days now conservative bloggers have been fulminating that Mitt Romney doesn't get a fair deal, that the media doesn't give him a chance, and is out to get him.

Their protests are likely to get louder as Mother Jones, which describes its mission as fighting "an out of control right-wing lie machine", releases a video of a Romney speech to a private audience of big donors.

He actually sounds a lot more politically savvy than he does on the stump. His explanation of why he can't attack Mr Obama full-throttle is particularly interesting.

I argued after the Republican convention that if it appeared flat, it was because it had to be: ramping things up would have put voters off. It is nice to hear the same point from Mr Romney's own mouth.

He tells the wealthy donors that it is all about those critical 10% in the middle, that "because they voted for him, they don't want to be told that they were wrong, that he's a bad guy, that he did bad things, that he's corrupt".

But it is his scornful take on Obama voters that has really grabbed the headlines.

He says the majority of them can't be peeled off because they pay no income tax. He says these voters are those "who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them".

What is particularly interesting is the figure he puts on this - 47%. It struck me on first reading as remarkably high.

Are nearly half of voters in a country known for its relative lack of welfare provisions really welfare dependents?

This article, by the Washington Post's Ezra Klein, does show that 46% of US households don't pay income tax. Meanwhile, 61% of those who pay no federal income tax do pay payroll tax at 15.3%.

Another 22% of the non-income tax-payers are elderly, according to the Ezra Klein article. If that is correct, 83% of those who do not pay income tax don't really fit Mr Romney's characterisation, except in so far as his argument is that people who don't pay income tax aren't impressed by promises of income tax cuts.

There's little doubt this video was released with the desire to hurt Mr Romney, and that will lead some to cry foul.

But elections are a rough game and he is left looking snooty towards half of America - it reinforces the very image of him the Obama campaign are trying to push.

How soon will they produce T-shirts with "I'm one of the 47%" on them?

Mark Mardell, North America editor Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    What this really shows is that Romney has no understanding of the country he seeks to govern. The states that have the highest proportion of people who pay no income tax are Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama -- three of the states that are solidly in the Romney camp.

    Such comments are bound to bring attention back to the question of whether Romney himself has paid income taxes recently.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    In a recent interview Romney said that he believed middle income to be 200,000 to 250,000. Now he has made these statements. As a taxpayer whose income is below the 50,000 mark, and who receives no assistance whatsoever, I am deeply offended. He seems to be announcing that he doesn't care who he offends, yet he expects to run a country? Beware the politician who does not respect the electorate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    He also has some nerve, Romney should appreciate that being born into his family he never had to experience what the average person deals with daily. Can he apprciate that it just might be a little different for someone who had to borrow all of their tuition for example, Here we have a true elitist, i hear a lot of scorn in that recording for those 'other people' not like him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    If I were American and even if I disagreed with his economic policies, I would vote for Obama over these reactionaries. The thing is, someone like Romney really believes what he said there. He really despises half his countrymen yet aspires to be their President.

    If he despises half his countrymen, what's his opinion of the rest of the World?

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    David Brooks, the conservative columnist at the New York Times, sums up nicely what Romney's comments about the 47% suggests: "it suggests that he really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits."


Comments 5 of 507



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