“If we win Ohio we win this election,” President Obama confidently told a small group of $10,000-each-donors, who met with him in private, in Columbus, following the second grassroots events he held Monday in all-important Ohio. “If we win this election we’ll finish what we started. And we will work on behalf of the working men and women of this country, and remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on earth,” according to a White House print pool reporter at the meeting in Schiller Park in German Village.
Gaffes to gold?
Even before the president spoke to crowds of fans and backers in Cincinnati and Columbus, the electoral daylight between the two candidates was brighter, with the polling news from last week that Mitt Romney is falling further behind in a state he cannot lose and still expect to win on Election Day, now just 49 days away.
At a big-ticket fundraiser back in May, Mitt Romney likewise spoke with authority when he told a small group of $50,000-each donors that he’s only interested in winning over the small percentage of voters who haven’t already lined up with President Obama.
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the President no matter what,” he said, according to a surreptitious recording of his talk that made its way into the hands of progressive news sources. “All right, there are 47 percent who are with him [President Obama], 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 …,” he said without breaking stride, adding, “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Dems leap on Romney
On Tuesday, Democrats already had Romney’s words in print and in video.
In Ohio, where the president was yesterday and where the GOP ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will be again soon, one former Democratic governor, Ted Strickland, had a good laugh with the 4,500 people who turned out to see and hear President Obama make his stump speech on why he deserves a second term.
Ted Strickland, who was elected in 2006 to turn around a state already shaken from revenue losses, foreclosures and business closings but whose fortune was to become CEO of Ohio just as it was getting hit broadside by the Great Recession of 2007, had the crowd laughing along with him, when he said he had received a letter from Romney and Republicans identifying him as a leading Republican.
Strickland delivered some well placed zingers to the Romney-Ryan ticket in Charlotte, NC, the host city for the 2012 Democratic National Convention that ended two weeks ago. He again jabbed and joked, to the thrill of the crowd, at Romney’s expense.
Watch Ted Strickland on 60 Seconds Ohio.
Wasting no time, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern blasted out an email asking for donations of $4.70 to symbolize Romney’s comments on voters Democrats consider a big part of their base and strategy to win the election this year.
“We’re less than 50 days away from Election Day, please stand up to Governor Romney and donate $4.70 today to help us show him that he can’t ignore us,” Redfern wrote. “As if belittling 47% of America wasn’t enough, Romney went even further, declaring ‘my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.'”
At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Strickland didn’t parse words or nuance his feelings about what Mr. Romney was saying. “Well, it wasn’t a bump in the road, it was a deep chasm, in my judgment,” he said to Soledad O’Brien on CNN’s Starting Point.
“And quite frankly, what the Governor [Romney] said is very significant because it reveals something about his value system. For him to speak with such disdain about so many Americans and he wants to be our President? Some of those people that he was talking about, Soledad, are soldiers that are risking their lives at this very moment in Afghanistan. Some of those people he was talking about in such a disdainful way are older people. How can this man who wants to be president talk in such a disdainful way about half of the American people, and then hope to pull this country together and to be our president.”
Strickland reminded O’Brien, as other journalists have since discovered, that many people don’t pay income taxes because they’re so poor. “They don’t make enough money to be able to pay income taxes,” Strickland said, adding, “But they pay payroll taxes, they pay state taxes, they pay excise taxes. This man apparently feels that if you’re not a part of his social class or you don’t have his economic status, that somehow you’re a parasite.”
As for Redfern, he mauled Romney without mercy. “Wow – are you as outraged as I am? We cannot afford to let this man get anywhere near the White House. If we fail to in November, we’ll have a President who has admitted he doesn’t care about half the country … We’re in the final stretch of this campaign and we need your help to win this thing … show Mitt Romney that he can’t write off 47% of our fellow Americans. We can’t let him get away with this.”
Organizing for America, the president’s reelection campaign, put up a new video called “Americans React to Mitt Romney’s Behind Closed Door Comments.” Obama for America’s new web video takes to the streets to ask voters what they think of Mitt Romney declaring to a group of wealthy donors that nearly half of the American people view themselves as “victims,” entitled to handouts and unwilling to take “personal responsibility” for their lives.
Last night Governor Romney addressed the differences between his and President Obama’s approaches to the future of the country:
Mitt Romney, who held a late night press conference yesterday, said this today to explain the comments he made back in May. “The president believes in what I’ve described as a government-centered society, where government plays a larger and larger role, provides for more and more of the needs of individuals, and I happen to believe instead in a free enterprise, free individual society where people pursuing their dreams are able to employ one another, build enterprises, build the strongest economy in the world. I happen to believe that my approach is the approach that will put 23 million people back to work again. We’ve watched the results of the president’s approach over the last three and a half, four years and his government-centric, larger and larger government approach has meant that we have 15 million more people on food stamps, 23 million people out of work or stopped looking for work or underemployed. We’ve had 43 straight months with unemployment above 8%. And my view is that the right approach for our nation is not to adopt a government-centered approach, but instead a free, free people, free enterprise, free market, consumer-driven approach and that will build the strongest economy for ourselves and for the coming generations.”
At the Ohio Statehouse Monday, Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio blasted President Obama’s “politically opportune stance on China and his abject failure at curtailing our national debt.”
Rubio, a rising Republican Hispanic star who Mitt Romney could have chosen as his pick for VP but didn’t, said government borrowing to pay interest on the $16 trillion debt is taking money out of the economy that could be used to help businesses grow and create jobs,” according to one published report.
“We have never seen the debt grow like it has over the last 31/2 years with no plan to stop it,’ Rubio said a crowd far smaller than the one who showed up about a mile away for President Obama. ‘This president has offered absolutely no serious ideas about reversing course on the growth of the national debt. … If we stay on the road he’s outlined for us now, the debt will grow to levels no people have ever seen.’
How fired up was the crowd in Columbus Monday? Watch this and make your call.
The Ohio effect
As one report put it, fact checkers are going to have a field day with Romney’s numbers. “Clearly government employees, soldiers, veterans, people on Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, people who have gotten Small Business Administration loans, people who work for government contractors or companies the government bailed out (like banks and GM) are at least somewhat dependent on government,” electoral-vote.com posted.
“Whether that is 47% of the population is something else. The danger for Romney is that this story reinforces his image of wanting to be the President for the upper half. Gaffes only matter when they reinforce an existing stereotype and this one does. A report that Romney had an affair with a staffer would get zero attention because nobody would believe it was true,” the website wrote.
According to data from four polls, Obama leads Romney 49-45 in Ohio, a state respected election watchers are saying will be the tipping-point state in this year’s run for the White House.
With less the election about seven weeks away, Romney needs to keep the president within 3 percentage points if he hopes to win by coaxing the small number of independents and undecided voters to break to him and the GOP on November 6.
The blade at Romney’s throat
Like a blade at his throat is the historical data that shows no Republican president who has failed to win Ohio has been elected president for most of the 20th century. Obama could lose Ohio but win a second term if he wins big states, like Florida and Pennsylvania and a handful of the so-called sand states like Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado. For Romney if he loses Ohio, he has to win six battleground states few believe he can sweep even in a good year for Republicans.
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