Fallout from 'free-loading' remarks continues to dog Romney campaign
MITT ROMNEY’S allies have labelled his remarks about free-loading Americans who don’t pay federal income tax “inarticulate,” “incompetent,” and “arrogant and stupid”.
The Romney campaign tried for a third consecutive day yesterday to stem the damage from the four-month-old video of the Republican candidate speaking privately to a clutch of millionaires, as Republican Congressional candidates distanced themselves from him and President Barack Obama offered thoughtful criticism on late night television. With less than seven weeks to go before the election, Mr Obama has extended his lead in opinion polls.
“It’s time to admit the Romney campaign is an incompetent one,” the conservative columnist Peggy Noonan, who was Ronald Reagan’s speech-writer, said in a post on the Wall Street Journal’s website. “An intervention is in order. ‘Mitt, this isn’t working’.”
In its lead editorial yesterday, the Murdoch-owned Journal concluded that if Mr Romney cannot “give a better speech on taxes and dependency than he delivered at that fundraiser . . . he’ll lose, and he’ll deserve to”.
Bill Kristol, another influential conservative commentator, wrote in the Weekly Standard that Mr Romney’s remarks were “arrogant and stupid”. He noted that many of the nearly 47 per cent of Americans who do not pay federal income tax are Romney supporters, including the military and old-age pensioners.
Mr Kristol said: “Romney seems to have contempt not just for the Democrats who oppose him, but for tens of millions who intend to vote for him.”
Scott Brown, the Republican who delivered a severe blow to the Obama presidency by winning the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in January 2010, faces a difficult battle for re-election in November. Mr Brown shares some of Mr Romney’s key advisers, including Eric Fehrnstrom of etch-a-sketch fame.
“That’s not the way I view the world,” Mr Brown said, referring to the Romney video. “As someone who grew up in tough circumstances, I know that being on public assistance is not a spot that anyone wants to be in.” Criticism from Mr Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, was perhaps the most painful. “He was obviously inarticulate in making this point,” Mr Ryan told a Nevada radio station. Asked if Mr Romney now regrets his derogatory comments about 47 per cent of the US population, Mr Ryan replied, “That’s for sure.”
In an interview with a Colorado television station, Ann Romney claimed her husband’s remarks were “taken out of context”. The campaign reportedly uploaded her interview to YouTube under the title “Ann Romney to FOX31: Mitt Doesn’t Disdain the Poor” then quickly removed it.