On the night of the election, Mitt Romney made a gracious concession speech and then walked off the stage with his family at his side. This was Mitt Romney’s time. He could have walked into history as a well-respected man. Forget about the gaffes, the 180-degree policy turns, the hundreds of millions of dollars wasted, his stilted demeanor, and the mistake of naming Paul Ryan as his running mate. His remarks to funders that 47% of Americans were takers would certainly be remembered, but might be smoothed out over time. Even memes about the dog on the roof would slide into the ages. It was time for he and Ann to gather up the family, head back to one of their palatial estates and reflect on what his quest for the presidency had come to.
But instead, Romney was intent on having another go at it. And he chose another gathering of funders to express himself.
During a conference call with donors on Wednesday, November 14, only eight days after Election Day, Romney reflected on his campaign. The Los Angeles Times reported that Romney “believed his team ran a ‘superb’ campaign with ‘no drama,’ and attributed his rival’s victory to ‘the gifts’ the administration had given to blacks, Hispanics and young voters during Obama’s first term.”
“The president’s campaign,” he said, “focused on giving targeted groups a big gift — so he made a big effort on small things. Those small things, by the way, add up to trillions of dollars.”
As The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn had earlier pointed out, according to conservatives, “Women got free birth control. Latinos got more open immigration policy. The poor got food stamps. Tons of people got subsidized health insurance. And so on.”
On Election night on Fox, a deeply disturbed Bill O’Reilly, stated that “It’s not a traditional America anymore, and there are 50 percent of the voting public who want stuff. They want things. And who is going to give them things? President Obama.”
O’Reilly went on: “The white establishment is now the minority. The voters, many of them, feel this economic system is stacked against them and they want stuff. You’re gonna see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. Overwhelming black vote for President Obama. And women will probably break President Obama’s way. People feel that they are entitled to things — and which candidate, between the two, is going to give them things?”
In his post-election analysis, The American Prospect’s Paul Waldman pointed out that “The truth, of course, is that every single person in America gets benefits from the U.S. government. We get defended from invasion, we get roads to drive on, we get reasonably clean air to breathe, we get parks and schools and so much else. But that's not the ‘free stuff’ conservatives are talking about.
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