US & Canada

Conservative media lambast Romney

Mitt Romney speaks to the press in Costa Mesa, California, on 17 September 2012
Image caption Mitt Romney explains his comments captured on video at a briefing with the press

Mitt Romney finds few friends among conservative US commentators, as the fallout rumbles on over the Republican presidential nominee's remarks disparaging Obama voters.

In her column for the Wall Street Journal, Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan skewers the Republican's campaign:

"It's time to admit the Romney campaign is an incompetent one. It's not big, it's not brave, it's not thoughtfully tackling great issues. It's always been too small for the moment. All the activists, party supporters and big donors should be pushing for change. People want to focus on who at the top is least constructive and most responsible. Fine, but Mitt Romney is no puppet: He chooses who to listen to. An intervention is in order. 'Mitt, this isn't working.'"

New York Times conservative commentator David Brooks also lays into the Romney campaign.

"Romney, who criticizes President Obama for dividing the nation, divided the nation into two groups: the makers and the moochers... The Republican Party, and apparently Mitt Romney, too, has shifted over toward a much more hyperindividualistic and atomistic social view - from the Reaganesque language of common citizenship to the libertarian language of makers and takers... He's running a depressingly inept presidential campaign."

William Kristol, writing in the Weekly Standard, calls Mr Romney's remarks "arrogant and stupid":

"It's worth recalling that a good chunk of the 47 percent who don't pay income taxes are Romney supporters—especially of course seniors... as well as many lower-income Americans (including men and women serving in the military) who think conservative policies are better for the country even if they're not getting a tax cut under the Romney plan. So Romney seems to have contempt not just for the Democrats who oppose him, but for tens of millions who intend to vote for him."

Matt Miller, writing in the Washington Post, says the Romney remarks are "a new low".

"Those in the 47 percent who aren't seniors or veterans are mostly poor workers whose payroll taxes, at 15.3 percent (since the employer side of the tax effectively comes out of workers' wages), leaves them taxed at a higher rate than was Mitt Romney on his $20 million income last year... To be so insultingly tone deaf and self-destructive even while being dead wrong and hypocritical on the substance is a perverse sort of accomplishment. It's not easy to be this bad."

However, a Fox News editorial concedes that "generalities are always unjust", but leaps to the Republican nominee's defence:

"There is no sin greater in a presidential race than telling the truth. Romney is being excoriated for accurately describing the situation in America today. Painting with broad strokes will do many individuals an injustice. But the fact remains that our electorate is basically bifurcated into those who pay taxes and those who receive benefits... Why do so many people feel Romney will be better at improving the economy and yet still plan to vote for Obama? The answer is that they care more about preserving their entitlements than about improving the economy."