He should have quit while he was behind, but Mitt Romney stepped in it again this week during a conference call with major Republican donors.
Romney apparently believes that his campaign was focused on "big issues," while President Barack Obama was just relying on "gifts" to special-interest groups.
In a conference call with fund-raisers and donors to his campaign, Mr. Romney said Wednesday afternoon that the president had followed the “old playbook” of using targeted initiatives to woo specific interest groups – “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”
“In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said, contrasting Mr. Obama’s strategy to his own of “talking about big issues for the whole country: military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth.” […]
“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” Mr. Romney said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”
The president’s health care plan, he said, was also a useful tool in mobilizing black and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers: 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics.
“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity – I mean, this is huge,” Mr. Romney said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”
Imagine that—Americans voted for the candidate whose policies were a “huge plus” for people like them. Romney implies that it’s small-minded for voters to consider things like their own family’s access to health care, or whether they will be able to pay back student loans, or whether their neighbors’ children will be deported. In contrast, his own supporters were keeping the big picture in mind.
I’m with Steven Mazie:
It’s an odd narrative from the losing candidate, when you think about it: President Obama won re-election because he gave the people what they wanted. Shouldn’t the candidate who gives the people more of what they want expect to win the election? If Mitt Romney’s proposals were not what the people wanted, weren’t the people right to rebuff them? […]
As long as the Republican party continues to construe basic human rights as frivolous and expensive perks – while construing “liberty” as the freedom of the wealthy to amass larger and larger fortunes – it will be rewarded with more losses in presidential campaigns.
Obama could have done a lot more to help struggling Americans during his first term. For instance, his health care reform law will leave millions of people without insurance coverage, he never did anything for those who have been unemployed for longer than 99 weeks, and his administration’s policies on the mortgage crisis were a sick joke. But Romney is way off base to suggest that there’s something wrong with the president trying to make people’s lives better so that they will vote for him.
While many Republicans just want Romney to disappear, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal wants the whole world to know how strongly he disagrees with Romney. The likely presidential candidate in 2016 is urging his fellow conservatives to “reject identity politics” and “treat folks as individuals, as Americans, not as members of special interest groups.”
On CNN today, Jindal described Romney’s latest comments as “completely unhelpful.”
“This is not where the Republican party needs to go,” he said. “Look, If you want voters to like you, the first thing you’ve got to do is to like them first. And it’s certainly not helpful to tell voters that you think their votes were bought.”
In a reference to Romney’s “47 percent” video, Jindal added that Republicans needs to appeal to “100 percent of the electorate, not 53 percent.” […]
Jindal told Blitzer that the GOP couldn’t improve its standing by “insulting folks” who voted against them.
“Look, the Republicans, we need to stick to our principles, but we need to treat other people with respect,” he said. “Even those we don’t agree with, we need to show them we respect them and their beliefs.”
Romney-bashing may remain popular in Republican circles for the next few years, but if Jindal runs for president, deviating from conservative orthodoxy on tax or immigration policy will be a lot more tricky.