Gov. Mitt Romney, Republican presidential nominee, gave President Barack Obama’s re-election chances in a weak economy another boost, by accusing half of all Americans in believing they are entitled to government benefits. It may have less to do with insensitivity and more with a campaign that never had the right staff. It also suggests the candidate’s stubbornness raising the larger question of judgment.
A day following the video clip’s release made at a private fundraiser in which Gov. Romney made the comments he held a press conference that did nothing to further damage control. Little thought went into what he said. This may have stemmed both from Gov. Romney’s temperament and modest campaign advice. In the press conference, Gov. Romney admitted his position was “not eloquently stated.” At the press conference he remained obstinate failing to see the issue and latest campaign crisis in a larger context.
Republican vice presidential nominee, Congressman Paul Ryan, called Governor Romney’s comment “obviously inarticulate.” Bless his heart. Congressman Ryan was actually trying to help. GOP candidates throughout the nation have distanced themselves from Gov. Romney’s remarks. Conservative commentators Bill Kristol, Peggy Noonan, and David Brooks have not been charitable regarding this latest campaign development.
Although there are unanswered questions as to who filmed the meeting and why security controls weren’t in place by the campaign at such a high level fundraiser, Gov. Romney has not apologized for appearing insensitive and uninformed. Nor did he emphasize very well his commitment to be president of all Americans.
Gov. Romney is not a bad person. His life is filled with many examples of empathy, compassion, and helping others, but this and other missteps and how his campaign staff handles them don’t suggest presidential timber. All politicians need to eat crow occasionally to stay viable. Gov. Romney didn’t do it and failed to see this defining moment, with the nation far more engaged, as a chance to inspire, be visionary, and show his leadership credentials in a different way.
At one time many believed the Boston-based Red Sox had a curse. Now it appears it has transferred to presidential nominees from Massachusetts. Will Mitt Romney find the same outcome as presidential nominees Mike Dukakis and John Kerry? Unless he shakes up his campaign staff it appears so.
Paul Jesep is a policy analyst and author of Lost Sense of Self & the Ethics Crisis. He is also Founder of Entrepreneur Spirit.