Could Mitt Romney 'victims' comment be good for his campaign? (+video)(Read article summary)
That's what some conservatives assert. The uproar over Mitt Romney's remarks that 47 percent of Americans see themselves as 'victims' and feel entitled to government support is an opportunity to emphasize how Romney differs from Obama over the role of government, they say.
Mitt Romneyâ€™s â€śvictimsâ€ť tape is bad news for his campaign, runs Washingtonâ€™s conventional wisdom. It doesnâ€™t do to dismiss 47 percent of America as too dependent on government, in this view, and itâ€™s even worse to say â€ś[my] job is not to worry about those people.â€ť
Democrats are gleeful about what they judge to be an electoral game-changer. Some Republicans are running for cover â€“ Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, for instance, was quick to disassociate himself from Mr. Romneyâ€™s expressed views.
But what if the conventional wisdom is wrong? Is it possible this faux pas could actually be good for the Romney campaign?
Thatâ€™s what some conservatives are arguing Wednesday morning. They say that while Romneyâ€™s comments may have been badly put, the whole uproar has handed the ex-Massachusetts governor an opportunity to refashion his campaign message and to emphasize that he wants to lessen the power of government, while President Obama wants to increase it.
â€śLemonade out of lemons? If he can refine and hammer home,â€ť tweeted conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin, a staunch Romney supporter, on Wednesday.
It isnâ€™t as if the Romney train had been humming on an open track. In recent weeks his campaign has been beset by so many problems, self-made and otherwise, that Politico tagged him â€śman of constant sorrow.â€ť Remember his botched trip to London? Clint Eastwoodâ€™s strange GOP convention appearance? The flap about his hasty statement on the Middle East riots, which we wonâ€™t even begin to try to describe?
As the â€śconstant sorrowâ€ť song goes, â€śfor six long years, Iâ€™ve been in trouble. No pleasure here on Earth I find.â€ť (It hasnâ€™t actually been six years, but it might seem that long if youâ€™re a Romney campaign official.)
In this context, a candidate needs to find an opening where he can get it, to paraphrase Ms. Rubinâ€™s post on the subject Wednesday at Right Turn.
â€śThe Romney-Ryan campaign quite correctly, I think, has seen that while there were certainly problems with how Romney spoke to his donors about the 47 percent, the terrain on which he now finds himself is exceptionally favorable,â€ť writes Rubin.
This terrain, according to Rubin and other conservatives, is ground on which Romney should compare his desire for an opportunity-based society with Mr. Obamaâ€™s government-centric approach.
This is a formulation that will appeal even to those who are currently boosted by government benefits or donâ€™t make enough to pay income taxes â€“ the 47 percent, writes RedState editor Erick Erickson.
Many people are not in the 47 percent by choice, and they recognize that they are there due to Obamaâ€™s economic policies, according to Erickson. They donâ€™t think Romney was talking about them when he used the word â€śvictims.â€ť
â€śI think the media and the left have badly misread the American mood on this,â€ť writes Erickson.
Conservatives are further heartened by the release of audiotape on which then-state Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois in 1998 says, â€śI actually believe in redistribution, at least to a certain level to make sure everybodyâ€™s got a shot.â€ť
Romney himself has an op-ed in Wednesday's USA Today that attempts to make this pivot away from the literal content of his words toward a more general and more positive message.
Government does have a role to play in helping Americans, writes Romney, but not in the manner the current administration intends. Rather, it â€ścreates the spaceâ€ť for people to pursue their own goals.Â â€śInstead of creating a web of dependency, I will pursue policies that grow our economy and lift Americans out of poverty,â€ť writes Romney.
But Democrats wonâ€™t let Romney easily distance himself from the actual words he used on the already-infamous fundraiser tape. The pro-Obama "super PAC" Priorities USA Action already has an ad up Wednesday using snippets of the tape, including the â€śvictimâ€ť remark and the Romney statement of his self-described 47 percent that â€śIâ€™ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility.â€ť