Mitt Romney maybe really is thinking of running for president again in 2016. Here he is trying (attempt number 5?) to explain and excuse his remark dismissing 47 percent of the American population as hopeless deadbeats.
In case you've forgotten that monumental statement of 1-percenter arrogance, here it is again:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who 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. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax....
[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
David Corn goes through all the torturous explanations Romney's gone through since trying to get away from what he said - trying to ignore it, denying he said it, saying he was misquoted, saying it was taken out of context - all without success.
Now Romney's got a new explanation:
"I was talking to one of my political advisers," Romney continued, "and I said: 'If I had to do this again, I'd insist that you literally had a camera on me at all times"—essentially employing his own tracker, as opposition researchers call them. "I want to be reminded that this is not off the cuff." This, as he saw it, was what got him in trouble at that Boca Raton fund-raiser, when Romney told the crowd he was writing off the 47 percent of the electorate that supported Obama (a.k.a. "those people"; "victims" who take no "personal responsibility"). Romney told me that the statement came out wrong, because it was an attempt to placate a rambling supporter who was saying that Obama voters were essentially deadbeats.
"My mistake was that I was speaking in a way that reflected back to the man," Romney said. "If I had been able to see the camera, I would have remembered that I was talking to the whole world, not just the man." I had never heard Romney say that he was prompted into the "47 percent" line by a ranting supporter.
In other words, he's blaming it on the person at the fundraiser who asked him the question. He was just mirroring the questioner's own framing back to him in the answer.
This was what the questioner actually said:
"For the last three years, all everybody's been told is, 'Don't worry, we'll take care of you.' How are you going to do it, in two months before the elections, to convince everybody you've got to take care of yourself?"
Personally, I don't find Romney's new explanation either very illuminating or very helpful for excusing what he said. For one thing, the questioner was asking how you convince the "takers" to take more responsibility for themselves; in his answer, Romney simply dismissed that half of the population as useless mouths incapable of change or value and unworthy of being considered by him at all.
I think David Corn has it right:
In the two years since Romney was caught on tape, he just cannot come up with a clear explanation of an easy-to-understand short series of sentences that were responsive to the question presented. But there is one possible explanation he hasn't yet put forward: He said what he believed.