Yesterday was Newt Gingrich’s favorite day since he won the South Carolina primary 12 days ago. It was also a day when hoots and hollers were heard from the Obama 2012 headquarters. Why do these two camps have so much in common on a given day? Because Mitt Romney, the well-coifed and polished would-be nominee of the GOP stuck his foot in his mouth, and then jammed it down his throat.
Just yesterday I was saying that it appears after Romney’s big win in the Florida primary that he can see a path cleared to the nomination for the first time, but that anything, including self-destruction, can happen in politics to anyone.
In an interview on CNN, Romney was attempting to appeal to the middle class, but did so to the exclusion of the “very poor,” suggesting that they are so far out on the fringes that all they can count on is welfare and food stamps with no hope of improving their state of life.
In the interview, Romney said: “I’m not concerned about the very poor, we have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it.” He then went on to explain, “You can choose where to focus, you can focus on the rich, that’s not my focus. You can focus on the very poor, that’s not my focus. My focus is on middle income Americans, retirees living on Social Security, people who can’t find work.”
On the one hand, we should give the guy a break, because the national news media, in doing the Obama campaign’s bidding for them, will completely exploit this foible while at the same time never hold Obama similarly accountable. On the other hand, a nomination process is still underway and this is supposed to be the candidate who is the most electable and capable of taking-on a sitting President.
Now if there was ever a president out of touch with reality and the strife of the very poor, it is Barack Obama. The recent data from the Congressional Budget Office, which should serve as a big dark cloud following the President’s claims that he inherited George Bush’s mess and the economy would be in much worse shape if not for his spending and bailout policies, has chosen class warfare as his campaign theme while the very poor struggle under his worsening economy.
This Romney stumble reminds me of poor ol’ George Bush (41) who was castigated by the Clinton campaign machine in 1992 when they suggested that he was so out of touch from the middle class that he had never even seen a grocery store scanner before a visit to a Grocers Manufacturers exhibit. Bush was not that out of touch, but the image of him at the grocery store was seared into the minds of Americans who were out of luck or struggling to make ends meet (nothing like they are today in our current economy).
So to the glee of Obama 2012, this is Mitt Romney’s grocery scanner moment. Now let’s see how he pivots from this perceived debacle as the national news media, Obama’s campaign team, and Newt Gingrich all re-load their cameras and shoot. Moving past this tongue-tied error with a passion about defeating the truly out of touch president would be the real mark of a capable candidate.