Romney was caught off-guard earlier this week after a tape surfaced of comments he made at a private fundraiser. On the recording, made surreptitiously in May, Romney told his listeners that 47 percent of the electorate would vote for President Barack Obama “no matter what” because they are completely dependent on the government to care for them. They “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. ... These are people who pay no income tax.”
Continued Romney: “My job is not to worry about these people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
To conservatives, Romney was merely “telling it like it is.”
Democrats, though, were quick to pounce, claiming the comments are “proof” that Romney is out of touch and uncaring about nearly half the country.
Romney’s comments were, as he put it, “inelegant.” And while we are in fact fast approaching a “tipping point” past which most Americans will not be paying federal income taxes, indications are that at present it is not quite as high as 47 percent.
That said, Romney was 100 percent right to point out that a significant portion of today’s Americans — and especially those who typically support liberal candidates — are voters who see government as the answer to all problems. Too many such Americans have turned John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Speech admonition inside out. “Ask not what your country can do for you: Ask what you can do for your country!” has been dumbed down into “Ask not what I can do for my country: Ask what my country can do for me!”
It’s the difference between the “hand up” philosophy of conservatives and the “hand out” philosophy espoused by many liberals.
To his credit, Romney, as of this writing, has not backed off his remarks. Yes, it surfaced at an unfortunate (for him) time, as he and others were sharply criticizing the incumbent for his incompetent, bungled Middle East policy. But successful candidates play the hand that is dealt them and find ways to trump unfavorable circumstances. And that is what Romney must now do.
The candidate must keep hammering home the fact that Obama has driven the country off the fiscal cliff. He must remind people at every opportunity of Obama’s redistributionist policies and efforts to transform the United States from a free-people, free-market capitalist country into a government-centered entitlement society — an effort that probably has a tax-cutter like JFK spinning in his grave.
Romney is on the right track, as his comments Tuesday on Fox News showed.
“I know some believe that government should take from some to give to the others,” Romney said. “I think the president makes it clear in the tape that was released today that that’s what he believes. I think that’s an entirely foreign concept. I believe America was built on the principle of government caring for those in need, but getting out of the way and allowing free people to pursue their dreams.”
That’s his dream, and the dream of many other Americans. Too bad it’s not one shared by Obama. That’s a stark difference between the two men, and one that Romney and running mate Paul Ryan must stick to and amplify at every opportunity in the next seven weeks.