The most talked about campaign story this week centers on videos posted by Mother Jones, which show a candid Mitt Romney speaking at a private fundraiser about issues ranging from Iran’s nuclear potential to the current administration’s “naive” foreign policy views.
Most of the subsequent media coverage has focused on the “dependent” video, in which Romney suggests that people who have voted, or will vote for President Barack Obama see themselves as “victims,” who pay no income tax and wish to rely on the government for life’s basic necessities: food, healthcare, “you-name-it.”
In response to the controversial clip, Romney said, “It’s not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. I’m speaking off-the-cuff in response to a question and I’m sure I could state it more clearly and in a more effective way than I did in a setting like that. And I’m sure I’ll point that out as time goes on.” Team Obama, for its part, released this campaign video in response.
But for all the hubbub about victimization and government handouts, another video in the Mother Jones set offers more insight into the current campaign cycle and to the political climate in Washington.
In the clip, Romney suggests several ways for his supporters to approach potential swing voters.
He posits that these people don’t want to be told they were wrong for voting for the president in 2008, but instead, “they want to believe they did the right thing, but [President Obama] just wasn’t up to the task.”
But you see, you and I, we spend our day with Republicans. We spend our days with people who agree with us. And these people are people who voted for him and don’t agree with us. And so the things that animate us are not the things that animate them.
Romney’s comments offer an unusually blunt explanation of the bleakly partisan nature of the election season. From the “us” and “them” rhetoric to the idea that Republicans and Democrats are never inspired by the same goals, this kind of talk runs rampant in political campaigns.
We want to know what you think. Are political candidates — mandated with representing the people — living and working in environments that are far too insular? How can policy-makers effectively solicit meaningful debate or encourage bipartisan cooperation in any capacity if they surround themselves only with like-minded staffers, friends and funders?
Do you believe politicians ought to do more to reach across the aisle? Or, in an election season, does it make more sense for candidates to focus primarily on their core supporters? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.