Mother Jone’s reporter David Corn appeared on Democracy Now this morning to talk about how a grandson of former President Jimmy Carter helped him find the video, but then talked about how Romney has handled the uproar the video has caused.
Romney told a Univision town hall Wednesday night that “so many people have fallen into poverty that they’re not paying taxes.” Which is only partially true since most people in poverty are still paying sales taxes and many of them are paying property taxes. Corn says those same people Romney is trying to sound compassionate about were the ones he dismissed in the video.
DAVID CORN: This is classic bait and switch. You know, he’s trying to make, you know, lemonade out of—out of turds, to be kind of crude about it. I mean, if you—you know, the great thing about this story, one thing that I take pleasure in, is that you don’t have to take my word or anyone else’s word, you can watch the tape again and again and again and see what Mitt Romney’s saying. And in those remarks, he shows—I think you can only call it contempt or disdain for 47 percent of the public. He doesn’t just say, you know, “There’s an issue here that they don’t make enough to pay taxes, and I’ve got to lift their incomes. That’s what I’m in this race for.” He calls them moochers, parasites, people who do not take personal responsibility for their own lives.
He also conflates a couple of different subsets. There are the 47 percent of people who voted for—of the electorate that voted for Obama. He lumps them all together into this parasitic victim class. He then says there are 47 percent of people who don’t pay taxes. That’s sort of a different subset, but he’s lumping them all together. And then he says there are people who get benefits. You know, he doesn’t say 47 percent, but again lumping them together, including people who get Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, assistance from the Veterans Administration, perhaps even, you know, farm subsidies and corporate welfare. So, he’s basically creating this caste for the election, in which the—you know, the politics is divided between those of us in this room, strivers, people who have made what we made purely on our own initiative, and the rest of the—you know, of America, who are moochers who want to basically be parasites living off us. There is really no other way to see that tape. It just shows his disdain for all of—you know, for half of America, when he claims to want to be president for all of America.
And yet, you know, he’s coming out of this, he has to say something. He can’t say, “Yeah, that’s what I meant.” So he’s saying, “Well, I was concerned about the level of entitlements and about people not making enough money.” But it’s pretty clear. I mean, he wouldn’t still be explaining three days out if the tape didn’t really show the real Romney.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I mean, David, he wouldn’t have held a news conference the night that you released this videotape, late at night, which was quite remarkable, demanding you release the whole thing, which you did on the Mother Jones website.
DAVID CORN: I mean, how many—
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think—
DAVID CORN: Yes, yeah—
AMY GOODMAN: —it mitigated against—
DAVID CORN: Yeah, people—I’m sorry to interrupt. Yeah, but people can go to motherjones.com and watch the clips we put up about this, about what he said about the Middle East, about what he said about other things involving politics, or they can sit through the entire, you know, video that we put up, which is about 70 minutes long, and see the whole thing.
I mean, how many times has Mitt Romney held a press conference, you know, on this campaign? That Monday night, he realized that this was an issue. I mean, I was on Larry Kudlow’s show last night, and, as Joe Biden might say, “Bless him.” But, you know, Larry was saying that this is good for Mitt Romney: this will concentrate him and force him to talk about how America has turned into an entitlement society. Well, fine, you do that, while you’re trying to campaign and win over the votes of people on Medicare in Ohio and Florida, and after these dismissive remarks. I mean, if Mitt Romney took Larry Kudlow’s advice, he’d be even worse off, I think, in the polls, as he is this morning.
The immediate polls after this remark are showing that Americans are turning away from Mitt Romney. Now, I’m not making any predictions about what’s going to happen on Election Day; I think there’s still a long time to go and that this is essentially a 50-50 proposition down into that first Tuesday in November. But nevertheless, I mean, Mitt Romney seems to be flailing. He didn’t—he didn’t really apologize for the remarks. He said they were “inelegant.” He said they were “off the cuff.” But “off the cuff” usually means from the heart. And he doubled down on them, but he’s distancing himself. He’s trying to turn them into something else. His own running mate—I mean, I can’t remember when I’ve seen this in the past—you know, called these remarks “inarticulate.” So he kind of slapped Mitt Romney on the wrist.
You know, Ann Romney came out, and as Joe Biden again would say, “God bless her,” and said these remarks were taken out of context. Excuse me, Mrs. Romney, they were not. You can watch the tape. There was—he answered the question directly. The question was, basically, how can you get people who are entitlements to vote for you before the general election? How can you persuade them? And this is the answer he gave. Nothing taken out of context. So, the Mitt Romney campaign, again, you know, has resorted to the usual dodge and the usual type of spin, but they can’t ignore what we at motherjones.com put up there. And it still reverberates.
Above: Video interview with Mother Jones Reporter David Corn
Below: The infamous videos of Romney’s speech in two parts