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 XXI: Educating the American People:
Here Romney expresses his low opinion of the American electorate. In this, he sells them short. I believe that in order to win the center of the American electorate in a presidential race, you need to demonstrate to them two things:
- I share your values.
- I and my team am competent to do the job.
It's not that the voters are uninterested in policies, it's that they know they cannot learn enough to judge. So they--I think accurately--focus on values and competence.
Successful Republicans have traditionally focused on the first--or had a complaisant press do the first for them. But it is very difficult for Republicans to do, because the requirement that they cling to their base has made it hard since Reagan's retirement for them to claim that they share American values--unless they luck into or frame the contest as a khaki election.
Romney's message, however, was more of the second: that Obama was a jumped-up affirmative action candidate, who--like all affirmative action candidates--was unqualified for the job. He left the "Obama is a Kenyan Muslim socialist" for the fever swamps of his coalition. But he did little to stamp it out, either...
Audience Member: Fifty-four percent of American voters think China's economy is bigger than the US. When I first met you four or five years ago, you did a diagram where you went very granular and you said, "Look, guys"—this was a small group—and you said, "this is it, this is what it is, tell it like it is." How are you going to win if 54 percent of the voters think China's economy is bigger than ours? Or if it costs 4 cents to make a penny and we keep making pennies?
Canada got it right a month ago. Why isn't someone saying, "Stop making pennies, round it to the nearest nickel?" You know, that's an easy thing, compared to Iran. I want to see you take the gloves off and talk to people that actually read the paper and read the book and care about knowing the facts and acknowledges power. As opposed to people who are swayed by, you know, what sounds good at the moment. If you turned it into like, "Eat what you kill," it'd be a landslide. In my humble opinion.
Romney: [Laughs.] Well, I wrote a book that lays out my view for what has to happen in the country. And people who are fascinated by policy will read the book. We have a website that lays out white papers on a whole series of issues that I care about. I have to tell you, I don't think this will have a significant impact on my electability. Um, I wish it did. I think our ads will have a much bigger impact. I think the debates will have a big impact. You know, I—
Audience Member: No one even knows who Pete Peterson is and he's [unintelligible] trouble 20 years ago.
Romney: But that's my point. Which is—my dad used to say, "Being right early is not good in politics." And in a setting like this—a highly intellectual subject, a discussion of a whole series of important topics—typically doesn't win elections. And there are, for instance, this president won because of hope and change. All right? He won because of hope and change.
Audience Member: Keep the change. [Audience laughs.]