How the '47 Percent' Tape Hurts Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney's statement that 47 percent of Americans don't pay taxes may not sink his candidacy, but it will damage his campaign.

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A new anti-Mitt Romney attack video "Greed, Lies, and Videotape" became public Monday and surprisingly Mitt Romney wrote the script and did the voiceover. The self-inflicted assault worked all too well. A new Gallup Poll indicates 36 percent of the voters are less likely to vote for Mitt Romney because of his caustic comments while only 20 percent indicate they are more likely to support the GOP nominee because of the video.

Many conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh, are pleased that their candidate spoke what they consider the truth. Now Mitt Romney is giving Missouri Rep. Todd Akin a run for his money in the race for the most YouTube views. Both Republicans apparently graduated from the Limbaugh School of Broadcasting with honors after studying the talk show's host crude comments about Sandra Fluke.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Mitt Romney.]

The truth is that Romney didn't speak the truth. For example, Romney believes that Barack Obama supporters are freeloaders dependent on government programs. But I'm an Obama 47 percent-er and I work very hard and pay a lot of taxes. How does that make me a "victim" dependent on federal aid? 

Many military veterans support the president because he got rid of Osama bin Laden, got the United States out of Iraq, and is getting us out of Afghanistan. Are the vets who support Barack Obama freeloaders because of the federal assistance they receive from the Department of  Veterans Affairs? I don't think so. Soldiers who collect benefits after fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq and seeing many of their friends die there deserve any federal aid they can get for their service to the United States.

And what about the single mom who lost her job after Mitt and his banker buddies on Wall Street drove the economy into the Great Recession? Is she a moocher because she gets unemployment benefits? The GOP must think she's a parasite because the Romney/Ryan budget would severely cut federal financial assistance for daycare and school lunches for her kids?

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]

Do kids from poor or middle-income families qualify as leeches? They receive financial aid and admire the president's opposition to the GOP attempt to double the interest rates on student loans? For Paul Ryan's sake, I hope not. Romney's running mate was able to go to college with the money he saved from the Social Security Survivors' benefits he received after his father's untimely death.

We still have 47 days and three nationally televised debates to go, so I don't think Romney's comments are a fatal blow. But his heartless remarks could hurt him in at in many ways.

Romney is right about one thing: He won't get any votes from Obama supporters. But the statements by the GOP standard bearer will chip away at his own base. Insulting your own supporters is rarely an effective campaign strategy. National polls show that Romney does better with seniors than he does young voters. Most of the elders who support the GOP candidate get Social Security checks from the feds every month. Are they bloodsuckers because of their dependence on federal financial assistance? Are the Romney voters in the South moochers because their states get more federal aid than the rest of the nation? These are people who should be and may soon be part of the Obama coalition. Will these voters stick with Romney after he insulted and demeaned them?

[Take the U.S. News Poll: Will the Leaked Romney Videotape Sink His Campaign?]

And I wonder how many of the swells at the ritzy Romney fundraiser paid any income tax. According to the Tax Policy Center, people in 4,000 households with incomes more than $1 million dollars didn't pay any federal income taxes last year? Does Mitt Romney think his donors are deadbeats? Probably not.

Romney's statements also make him a hypocrite. He makes sweeping generalizations about people on the basis of their tax returns but he stubbornly refuses to release his returns so Americans can determine whether he paid his fair share of taxes. What is Romney hiding anyway?

Americans already didn't like Mitt Romney because they saw him as a bean counter with a big brain and a small heart. Romney's callous remarks will seal the deal and by next week there will be many more Americans who believe he is a cold and calculating corporate CEO.

[Read the U.S. News Debate: Did the '47 Percent' Video Sink Romney's Campaign?]

And conservatives who think that the furor over Romney's remarks are a creation of the "liberal" media should consider these facts: The conservative Wall Street Journal is one of the most widely read newspapers in the country. Wednesday morning, the Journal's editorial page criticized Romney's penchant for saying silly and stupid things. The right wing Fox News Channel is by far the most watched cable news channel and Wednesday night, conservative host Bill O'Reilly popped the Republican nominee for his "not elegantly stated" remarks.

Some Republicans must also think Romney's comments hurt the GOP since the rats are deserting the sinking ship. Republican Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Dean Heller of Nevada and GOP Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico have already distanced themselves from Romney's crude commentary. Conservatives and Republicans who don't think Romney's comments will hurt him are just whistling past the graveyard that contains the remains of their hopes to deny Barack Obama a second term.

  • Read Peter Roff: Romney Video Distracts From Obama's Libya Crisis
  • Read Leslie Marshall: Mitt Romney Is Going to Lose
  • Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy

  • Corrected on 9/20/2012: A previous version of this blog post misspelled the name of Rep. Todd Akin.