Thursday, June 1, 2023

Romney’s ‘47 percent’ gaffe hurts campaign

In the heart of election season, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are traveling the U.S. in an attempt to secure as many votes as possible before Nov. 6.

Yet Romney’s campaign continues to face extreme challenges and setbacks, leaving some saying the governor already has lost the race with a little more than one month until election day. Romney still has a chance to beat incumbent Obama, but he will have to drastically reshape his campaign if he hopes to do so.

The Romney campaign faced possibly its biggest challenge last week, when a video of a private campaign event was released, showing the candidate speaking candidly to supporters about this election and how he’ll garner votes. But in doing so, Romney made a comment swearing off almost half of America.

During a question and answer portion of the event, Romney made his now infamous “47 percent” comment.

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” Romney said. “All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe 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 … so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

Although he now admits these words were not “eloquently stated,” Romney gave the Obama campaign exactly what they have been looking for: direct words from Romney’s mouth stating he does not relate to, and might not care for, the poor. He characterized almost half of Americans as people who believe they are victims and depend upon government rather than taking responsibility to care for their own lives.

What’s more, since the release of the video, Romney has doubled down on these comments rather than backing off, saying he already was facing a setback because his message of lower taxes does not appeal to Americans who pay no income tax and rely on entitlement and welfare benefits.

The video also caught more damaging comments by Romney, including the candidate jokingly stating, “It would be helpful to be Latino” insinuating he would have a better chance of winning the election and connecting with Latino voters if he shared their heritage. Romney has had a difficult time gathering Latino support already in his campaign, with a poll released last Monday by Latino Decisions showing Obama with a 68-26 percent lead over his challenger. Although a majority of Latino voters usually vote for the Democratic candidate, gathering enough Latino voters could give Romney the edge in key political battleground states, and a comment such as this only could hurt him among this population.

Some have criticized Romney, saying his campaign is finished before the election, but the two candidates have yet to debate, and a lot can happen in the next month. Romney still has a chance to beat Obama, but he has to correct a problem he has faced this entire campaign: he needs to figure out a way to make himself more likable to a middle-class, independent voting population. The “47 percent” comments might not have killed his campaign, but they were a huge setback for Romney.

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