I'm not concerned about the very poor.
Now, that's obviously true. Of course Romney, and the rest of his Republican pals, don't care about the poor! That's why they're Republicans! They only care about Mitt Romney's country club pals!
But a funny thing has happened in the day since Romney uttered those words. Conservatives are wringing their hands about them, and about Romney's utter inability to connect with anyone outside that aforementioned country club.
John McCormach, Weekly Standard:
Fresh off his big win in Florida Tuesday night, Mitt Romney made the most stunningly stupid remark of his campaign [...]
It's obvious that Romney's statement that he's "not concerned about the very poor" is incredibly tone-deaf. A candidate can say he's "focused" on the middle class without saying he's "not concerned" about the very poor, just as a candidate can say he's "focused" on the economy without saying he's "not concerned" about national security or even less vital issues like education.
But Romney's remark isn't merely tone-deaf, it's also un-conservative. The standard conservative argument is that a conservative economic agenda will help everyone. For the poor, that means getting as many as possible back on their feet and working rather than languishing as wards of the welfare state.
Nevermind the "conservative argument" of trickle down economics has been disproven by, you know, reality. Fact is, you're not supposed to say you don't care about the poor.
Wall Street Journal editorial board:
Today we'll try to decode his latest adventure in spontaneous lingua franca, and if necessary we're prepared to make this a long-running series right through November. Like Twain said of Wagner's music, Mr. Romney is better than he sounds.
When Romney's pals at the Wall Street Journal say you suck at communicating class issues, and that they, the Wall Street Journal, can do it better for you, you know you have problems.
There's lots more below the fold from Rush Limbaugh, to Jim DeMint, to pretty much all of National Review.
Charles Krauthammer, crusty old conservative crank:
Krauthammer argued that the statement was ill-advised because it reinforced stereotypes about Romney and how he is out of touch with “the poor.”
“Well, this is bad,” Krauthammer said. “It’s not just the day after a big win in Florida, he had only spent a whole day on a sound bite that could be taken out of context, and it has been and it will be. And it’s not just that it strengthens the stereotype of Romney as the patrician who is only aware of the poor as people who clean the streets and wash his car.”
Is it a "stereotype" if it's true?
He comes across as the prototypical rich Republican. And it's gonna make it harder and harder and harder and harder to go after Obama because this turns around on him. You know, all these Wizards of Smart in the Republican establishment say, 'We can't have Newt out there! Why, Newt's gonna be the topic. We need Obama to be the topic. We need Obama to be the guy campaign's about. If Newt's out there, it's only gonna be about Newt.' Well, what evidence is there that it's not gonna be about Romney with these kinds of statements?"
Yup. Romney is a veritable gaffe machine, and given that he's not concerned about the poor, given that he loves to fire people, given his love for $10,000 bets, and given that he stashes his money in offshore tax havens like the Cayman Islands and Swiss banks, Democrats will have more than enough material to work with.
And just think the second Romney wraps up the nomination, bloodied and broke, he'll face a nine-figure negative barrage from the Obama campaign and its various allied Super PACs and other organizations. Given that Romney is already far less popular than Obama, he can't afford to deliver such softballs to our team.
Sen. Jim DeMint, chief Senate Teabagger:
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said today that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney needs to “backtrack” and reframe comments in which the former Massachusetts governor said he was worried about the middle class and “not concerned about the very poor.” [...]
"I don’t think anyone thinks he doesn’t care about the poor, but I think he’s trying to say they’re taken care of right now with these programs. Those are the programs that are hurting, not just the poor, but our country. We need to address it at every level.”
You know who thinks Romney doesn't care about the poor? Romney. How do I know? Because he told me.
Jason Lee Steorts, National Review:
It’s interesting that Romney so often gets criticized for seeming inauthentic. A gaffe such as today’s is the essence of authenticity: The problem, politically speaking, is precisely that he failed to calculate about how his remark would be received. Ditto his comment about liking to be able to fire people. It was all too authentic when he revealed that $10,000 would be a trivial sum for him to wager. And there is a deal of authenticity in the naked ambition of a statement such as “I can’t have illegals, for Pete’s sake — I’m running for office!” [...]
Perhaps it is these moments, and the various flip-flops, that create the impression of inauthenticity, while the authentic, unguarded Romney is simply disliked.
Who needs Democrats when Romney is getting savaged like that by his fellow Republicans? Romney's two choices are either being disliked, or being inauthentic (thus disliked)? I agree.
Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review:
The Corner consensus seems to be that Romney’s remark—you know the one I’m talking about—was a foolish message badly expressed. I concur.
They're all piling on Romney over at the National Review. Want more?
Mark Steyn, National Review:
Jonah, I agree with you on the general tin-ear of Romney. He’s extremely un-nimble on the stump, which means that Republicans will be gambling that he can be sufficiently insulated and managed across the finish line without offering up any campaign-detonating hostage to fortune [...]
Romney’s is a benevolent patrician’s view of society: The poor are incorrigible, but let’s add a couple more groats to their food stamps and housing vouchers, and they’ll stay quiet. Aside from the fact that that kind of thinking has led the western world to near terminal insolvency, for a candidate whose platitudinous balderdash of a stump speech purports to believe in the most Americanly American America that any American has ever Americanized over, it’s as dismal a vision of permanent trans-generational poverty as any Marxist community organizer with a cozy sinecure on the Acorn board would come up with.
Acorn! Marxism! Platitudinous balderdash! Yeah, that Romney guy is terrible. Now how about one more National Review slam?
Jonah Goldberg, National Review:
As a bunch of us have been writing around here for a while, the under-emphasized dynamic in this race isn’t that Romney isn’t conservative enough (though that’s obviously a real concern out there) it’s that he’s simply not a good enough politician [...] He uses language — “I like to fire people!” “It’s nothing to get angry about” etc — that doesn’t make him seem like an unconventional politician. Rather his language makes him seem like a caricature of a conventionally stiff country club Republican.
Yup, that's your nominee. And it's fucking hilarious!