I have long thought somebody should go through and annotate the 2012 Mitt Romney: Full Transcript of the 47% Secret Video. So I will now do it.
Part IV: America as a Land of Opportunity/I Inherited Nothing:
Romney is still telling his and his wife Ann's personal and ancestral story. He seeks to present himself and his wife as links in a chain of upwardly-mobile hard-working immigrants, believing in their dreams and willing to sacrifice to take care of and assist family members. It is an inspiring--and true--story. That it was and is still (albeit to a lesser degree) possible in America is one of the things that keeps America great.
Then, however, Romney takes what I regard as an interesting rhetorical turn.
He claims that he and his wife Ann had "inherited nothing", that they "earned the old-fashioned way" "everything", "by hard work". No born-with-a-silver-spoon for the Mitt whose father was, by the time Mitt was seven, President of American Motors here! It is not clear to me whether Mitt Romney believes that he is not a second-generation scion of top 0.01% wealth and power, or simply believes that it is important to represent himself--even to this audience--as the product of a fair system of equality of opportunity in which the rich and successful are the deserving talented and industrious. But it is important to him that he not say: "Both Ann and I were lucky in our parents--both the values they taught us and the resources with which they were able to help us launch." Why it is important for him not to say that is something I have no special insight into...
Romney: So, in any event, yeah, I can put down my dad was born in Mexico and leave it at that. But his dad was in construction, very successful in Mexico, but in America went broke more than once. So my dad never had the money or time to get a college degree. Without a college degree, became head of a big car company and ultimately a governor. And believed in America, believed in the opportunity in this country, never doubted for a moment that he could achieve his dreams.
And Ann's dad, my wife's dad, was born in Wales. His dad was a coal miner. This coal miner got injured in a coal mining accident; realizing that there was no future there for him or his four children, he came to Detroit and worked in the auto factories until he could save enough money to bring his kids over, which he did. And then they got together as a family and said, you know, to be successful in America, you've got to get an education. And they couldn't afford an education. And the kids and the parents said you know, if we all work, and we all save, we could afford to send one of us to college. And they, they sent my wife's dad.
Can you imagine working every day, taking a couple of jobs, saving your money so that your brother could go to—I mean, I would never do that for my brother—that he could go to co… so he went to college, and got a degree at the General Motors Institute of Technology, which is one of these programs where you work a semester, and then you go to school a semester and… and then after it was over he started a little company, he became more successful, and he was able to hire his brothers and his brother-in-law, and provide for them in an extraordinary way.
By the way, both my dad and Ann's dad did quite well in their life, but when they came to the end of their lives, and, and passed along inheritances to Ann and to me, we both decided to give it all away. So, I had inherited nothing. Everything that Ann and I have we earned the old-fashioned way, and that's by hard work and… [applause] I see that—
Audience Member: You've just lost Samantha's vote for a second time. [Audience laughs.]
Audience member (female): These jokes are [unintelligible]. [More laughter.]
Romney: I say that because there's the percent that's, "Oh, you were born with a silver spoon," you know, "You never had to earn anything," and so forth...