Commentary: Mitt Romney’s Odd View of the “Gifts” That Sank Him

Mitt Romney

Commentary: Mitt Romney’s Odd View of the “Gifts” That Sank Him

Mitt Romney says Obama won by giving Blacks and Latinos gifts.

Published November 15, 2012

So now Mitt Romney has provided the world with his own tantalizing perspective on why he lost the presidential election to President Obama

In a 20-minute conference call with donors to his campaign, Romney said he and his staff remained “troubled” by his loss. Then, the failed Republican presidential candidate poured his heart out.

His loss, he said, was due in part to the “gifts” the Obama administration lavished during the campaign on loyal Democratic constituencies, “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.” He added: “In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups.”

In Romneyworld, Black and Latino Americans are so weak of mind that they can be successfully wooed simply by the prospect of “gifts.” In the Romney worldview, minority allegiance is explained in much the way the owner of a cocker spaniel might clarify how his pet has learned to perform tricks so capably: The dog merely responds to treats.

Romney’s fascinating analysis came shortly after his erstwhile running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, told a Wisconsin television station that Team Romney’s loss was a result of the president’s strength in “urban areas,” which is Republican code for, well, you know who.

Alas, the Romney and Ryan breakdown of the race didn’t seem to account for the fact that Obama won such utterly un-urban places as New Hampshire, Vermont and Iowa.

But such facts — or any facts for that matter — don’t hold much weight in the world of Team Romney. Their reviews are not particularly wedded to any realistic analysis of what motivated voters to support the president. Why let facts get in the way?

Apparently, it never occurred to Romney that voters might just prefer a candidate who champions wider access to affordable health care, rather than one who extols the virtues of the emergency room for those with medical concerns. It might just be that voters considered it sensible when one candidate discussed the need to increase grants and financial aid for college students as opposed to the candidate who recommended that a collegiate in need should simply hit up his or her parents for a few thousand.

Could it have been that voters were more attracted to a candidate whose party believed that a woman should be in control of her own health decisions rather than be engulfed by the party that promoted the idea of mandatory, invasive probes for women seeking abortions?

These are not gifts. They are preferences on public policy issues. 

And might these preferences resonate beyond just Black and Latino voters? Wasn’t it the case that voters in many rural, white areas also endorsed the Obama policies? In the world of Romney, these considerations don’t flash on the radar screen. 

Come to think of it, there might well be one gift. 

By voting for President Obama, the electorate has virtually assured that Romney’s impact and his role in history will rival those of such unmemorable presidential also-rans as Alton B. Parker or Alf Landon. None is as well remembered as Theodore Roosevelt or Franklin Roosevelt, the men who won against those failed candidates.  

And that is a gift for not just the “African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people,” to quote Romney, but for all Americans.

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(Photo: AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

Written by Jonathan P. Hicks


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