GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Thursday night he was “completely wrong” when he made comments about the 47 percent of Americans who do not pay taxes at a secretly recorded fundraiser in May.
Following the first presidential debate that most observers gave to Romney, many critics faulted President Obama for not bringing up Romney’s “47 percent” remarks or his tenure at Bain Capital, two issues the campaign has hit Romney hard on in advertising.
Appearing on “Hannity” on Fox News, Romney was asked what his defense would have been if Obama had attacked his remarks.
“Well, clearly in a campaign with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question and answer sessions, now and then, you are going to say something that doesn’t come out right,” Romney said. “In this case, I said something that was just completely wrong.”
In a press briefing shortly after the comments became public, Romney said his choice of words were “inelegantly” stated.
Echoing his debate performance, he said the rich were doing fine under Obama. Rather, it is the middle class and the poor who would be hurt by an Obama reelection, he said.
“The gap between the rich and the poor has gotten larger. The rich will probably do fine if he is reelected,” Romney said. “It is the middle class that is in real trouble. And the poor. I want the poor to get into the middle class. So many have fallen into poverty by virtue of his policies. So this for me is all about the 100 percent.”
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Mitt was ready for just about anything Obama or Jim Lehrer threw at him Wednesday night. That’s what “prepared” means. There were some obvious lines of attack and Mitt and his advisors worked on the responses.
But why, you might ask, didn’t Mitt roll these answers out earlier?
Simple – he was saving them for the right time. I always tell people they shouldn’t talk to cops. Any criminal defense attorney will tell you that silence is golden. The only thing you should tell a cop is “I don’t want to say anything and I want a lawyer.”
Save your side of the story for when there are twelve people sitting in the jury box. Then the prosecutor is not prepared for it. (Surprise!)
Let’s say Obama launched a “47 percent” attack and Mitt responded with the answer he gave Sean Hannity. That would leave Obama with no where to go. Look at Mitt’s answer on his tax cut plan – it was simple and on point.
Even better – what if Mitt was ready with a “There you go again” response like Reagan used on Carter?
The latest meme is that Obama was “off his game” and will be much more well prepared for the next face-off. Maybe so, but I bet that Mitt will be ready too.
During the opening prep sessions, the group quickly came to a consensus: At the podium, Romney would be forceful, nearly as assertive as he was in Healey’s living room. His advisers have always admired Romney’s ability to peel apart arguments in private, and they encouraged him to do the same at the debate, with a little polish. The goal was to overwhelm the president with liveliness and information, to force him to confront the messy details of his economic and fiscal record. The strategy, sources say, clicked with Romney for two reasons: He did not want to spend hours tinkering with his mannerisms, and he wanted to focus on internalizing data. He’d take advice on his voice, his posture, and the rest, but he wanted his prep time to be a policy workshop…
The practice made a difference. One longtime Romney friend tells me that Romney markedly improved throughout September as he devoted himself to his briefing books and the mock debates. The friend says Romney didn’t think of the debate as a political dialogue but as a grueling, 90-minute competition that demanded discipline. He prepared in the same way he used to review pending business deals at Bain Capital: He challenged his closest advisers about the most minor points, he spent a lot of time reading, and he constantly bantered with his aides about the other side’s weaknesses and strengths.