By Bryan Fischer
Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at “Focal Point”
“In this case, I said something that was just completely wrong.” ~ Mitt Romney, creating distance between himself and his comment about the 47%
Mitt Romney is backing away from his spring comments at a private fundraiser in which he seemed to write off as possible Republican voters the 47% of Americans who pay no income taxes.
When the tape surfaced, I was contacted by Rosie Gray of BuzzFeed for reaction. She observed in an email to me that a number of conservative commentators were celebrating his comments as a vigorous display of conservatism.
Gov. Romney spoke quite freely at this fundraiser, with a kind of animation and conviction we had not seen from him until the debate on Wednesday and his surprise appearance at CPAC Colorado on Thursday morning.
Yet I did not think at the time his message was a conservative message at all, and I am happy to see the governor create some separation here.
Here is what I wrote to Rosie Gray on September 17, comments that did not make it into BuzzFeed’s reporting:
You’re right, that’s the free-est and most natural I’ve seen the Governor. If he could be that person on the campaign trail, it’d ease the perception that he’s stiff and unlikeable. He seemed relaxed and showed glimpses of a pleasant sense of humor.
I thought Corn’s assessment was unnecessarily harsh, although I expect it will be standard fare from a media which protects the president when he talks about bitter clingers when he meets with wealthy donors, and has fund-raisers with Beyonce and other Hollywood high rollers and who goes to Las Vegas the day after four U.S. citizens were slaughtered in Libya. Talk about out of touch!
The governor is simply telling the truth when he notes how many people are dependent upon government largess. It’s a challenge for conservatives to overcome, on top of which dependency hurts the people who are affected by it. I hate the way government dependency robs people of initiative, self-reliance, self-respect and the satisfaction of working with your own hands to take care of your needs and the needs of people who depend upon you.
That’s why I don’t think he needs to or should give up on the 47%. All of them want to better their station in life, and a dismal economy is a huge barrier. I know people living entirely on government assistance and it is a dismal, dreary existence. He doesn’t have to talk to them about their invisible tax burden. Rather he can appeal to their aspirations to realize some of their dreams. He can promise to do things that will boost the economy so they can get better jobs and higher wages. He wouldn’t even need to talk about taxes – they will put up with a newly acquired tax burden if an improving economy gives them a higher standard of living.
Also, I don’t think Romney’s right about the independents, all of whom he thinks are in the middle somewhere, between Democrats and Republicans. A lot of folks are independents because the Republican party is no longer conservative enough to speak for them. The further Romney moves toward the center, the further way he moves from this disaffected conservatives. There’s a danger for him in that, that they might stay home or vote third party. He needs to give them a reason to vote for him by sending a message of unapologetic conservatism, which if you frame it right, is appealing to everybody.
Romney wiped the floor with Obama on Wednesday because, for the most part, he articulated a thoroughgoing message of conservatism. He won because for most of the 90 minutes he sounded as if he was doing a guest-hosting gig on Focal Point.
But he did say some things that conservatives need to note. He referred a number of times to crossing the aisle, an expression which scares me to death when on the lips of a Republican. This is because in the past it has always signaled a willingness to compromise on fundamental, core principle. Crossing the aisle is how we got No Child Left Behind and the disastrous amnesty proposal of 2007.
Even the word picture of “crossing the aisle” is problematic, because it implies leaving behind the convictions that put you on the side of the aisle you were on to begin with. By crossing the aisle, you are abandoning the foundational values that created the aisle in the first place.
Liberals in reality never cross the aisle, unless they are compelled to. They cannot be collaborated with, they can only be defeated.
I’m all for crossing the aisle. But how about we ask the left to cross the aisle and join us for a change?
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)