SAN DIEGO, February 2, 2012 ―Yes, we all get it. Mitt Romney’s remarks in a recent CNN interview with Soledad O’Brien could have been better worded. For a moment, it looked like he was displaying apathy toward the poor. Indeed, a short clip is being played all over our airwaves and any who missed the initial interview are treated to some very unfortunate words:
“I’m not concerned about the very poor.”
To call this a lethal statement for anyone who seeks public office is to make the understatement of the century and our century isn’t even that old yet.
As is usually the case, in context, Romney was not actually saying what people are accusing him of. Here is the full statement:
“I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich. They’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling,” (CNN, 2-1-12).
As a matter of fact, even if original viewers failed to notice Romney’s context by actually listening to what the man said instead of emotionally reacting, it was clarified immediately afterward when O’Brien confronted him:
O’BRIEN: All right. So I know I said last question, but I’ve got to ask you. You just said I’m not concerned about the very poor because they have a safety net. And I think there are lots of very poor Americans who are struggling who would say that sounds odd. Can you explain that?
ROMNEY: Well, you had to finish the sentence, Soledad. I said I’m not concerned about the very poor that have the safety net, but if it has holes in it, I will repair them (CNN, 2-1-12).
Now just which part of this explanation do people not understand? In any event, despite the context, I am forced to agree with media pundits who insist Romney must still be more careful. Providing a free sound bite for Democrats to use in campaign ads is like handing candy to a baby. Does the comment demonstrate carelessness? Yes. Should it have been better phrased? Yes. Should he master the skill of watching his mouth in the future? Yes.
The lesson is obvious. Unfortunately, the lesson also teaches us more about present day America than about Mitt Romney himself. Why shouldn’t this matter quickly go away when his entire statement was recorded and explained again in follow up interviews? Elementary, dear Watson: Campaign managers are assuming most people will not think for themselves or do personal research. Election ads are structured like simple commercials and are generally as short as a commercial. We take it for granted that countless people who go to the polls in November will mark their ballots without listening to one full interview, watching one full debate, or reading one full essay. Instead, they will choose our next president by the same criteria with which they choose toothpaste.
So, yes, Governor Romney, we urge you to be careful. We also regret that such caution is necessary.
This is Bob Siegel, making the obvious, obvious.
Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and columnist. Details of his show can be found at www.bobsiegel.net
Many comments to posts are discussed by Bob over the air where anyone is free to call in and respond/debate. Call in toll free number: 1-888-344-1170. Read more Forbidden Table Talk in The Washington Times Communities.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.