Mitt Romney is drawing fire for saying he’s “not concerned about the poor.”
Well, let’s take a look at precisely what he said:
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.
So let me state unequivocally that I do not believe Romney intended any heartlessness or malice towards the poor. Nevertheless, he used a very poor choice of words.
First, Romney made a point of stating he was concerned about the “very heart of America, the 90 to 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.” Well, presumably that 90 to 95% would include amongst the poorest Americans. The official poverty rate in this country is 15.1% comprising more than 46 million people. Now one might dispute the methodology in arriving at that figure. But there’s no question that many of those people in poverty are working rather than collecting welfare and yet struggle to make ends meet. Is Romney really saying he’s not concerned about the plight of 46 million Americans? I don’t think that is what he means to say but saying it in that manner is very bad politics indeed.
Second, while it is true that the poorest of the poor have a safety net, it misses the point. What Romney ought to have said is that he wants to implement policies to help people out of poverty, rather than keep them mired in it. Now I realize that poverty will always be amongst us but I can see that most people who are in poverty do not want to be in that state. I’m not saying Romney should pledge “The Second War on Poverty” but where it concerns poverty he should emphasize spring boards rather than safety nets.
Speaking of spring boards, Romney’s poor choice of words could be a blessing to Newt Gingrich. After all, Gingrich has spoken about the Conservative Opportunity Society for decades and, of course, his victory in South Carolina was aided in part by his reply to Juan Williams’ criticism of Gingrich labeling President Obama “the food stamp President.” Newt could convincingly argue that Romney would just be another “food stamp President.”
But if Newt can’t capitalize on this, you can bet that President Obama most certainly will. Romney has to stop handing Obama weapons that can be used against him. You could say that Romney is engaging in a “Fast & Furious” operation.