The Corner

What Romney Said on the ’47 Percent’ and What He Should Have Said

Mitt Romney was compelled to have a rushed press availability following a fundraiser in Orange County, California tonight to address his (inevitably) controversial comments about the “47 percent” of Americans who don’t pay income taxes, are “dependent” on government, and thus unlikely to support him. Here’s what Romney said:

Funnily enough, before Romney’s presser I e-mailed a GOP political operative friend and suggested that Romney say something like the following:

I said they probably wouldn’t vote for me. I never said I didn’t want to help them. I never said I wouldn’t do everything I could as president to make sure that 1 in 7 of them are not on foodstamps, to get jobs for the 8 percent who can’t find them and the countless more who’ve given up.

Romney doesn’t exactly do it as elegantly (which is why they pay me the big bucks) but he does gesture at some of this. I found the presser not horrible, which is about as much praise as I can muster right now.

I don’t think there is any way to spin the release of this video as a positive for Romney, but I do think — and I said as much on Twitter — that now that it has happened, Romney’s only play is to turn into the approaching torpedoes at flank speed, Marko Ramius style.

In other words, the more fully Romney owns these comments the less the press can report them as a “gaffe.” Romney is now in a position that he has to bring the fight to Obama on the entitlement state. He can’t coast on poor economic indicators. Which, I think, is to the good, since the polls are showing that that is not a guaranteed winner, anyway.

Daniel Foster — Daniel Foster is a former news editor of National Review Online.

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