I’ve been blogging less about politics since the campaign ended last Tuesday, but am still keeping my eye on the news. An item crossed my path tonight that must be shared: Mitt’s first public post-mortem since his concession speech. As reported in the NY Times this evening, Romney and his campaign finance staff held a conference call with donors today. According to quoted portions, Romney attributed his defeat to President Obama having effectively won votes of lower-income voters by awarding them with “gifts.” The loser made, basically, the same argument as those gross super-pac ads being shown until last Tuesday, where an inner-city African-American woman talks excitedly about the “Obama phone” she’d supposedly been given by the federal government. His excuse for losing–to an audience of people whom he has an interest in convincing he didn’t piss their money away– was very similar to what he told donors in the 47% fundraising pitch. Interesting that he was speaking to contributors both times. The quotes are really offensive. Here are a couple chunks of it, from Ashley Parker’s story in the Times:
In a conference call on Wednesday afternoon with his national finance committee, Mr. Romney said that the president had followed the “old playbook” of wooing specific interest groups — “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people,” Mr. Romney explained — with targeted gifts and initiatives.
“In each case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said.
“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift,” he said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”
The president’s health care plan, he added, was also a useful tool in mobilizing African American and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers — 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics voted to re-elect Mr. Obama.
“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity, I mean, this is huge,” he said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free healthcare was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”
On the tactical failures of his campaign,
“I’m very sorry that we didn’t win,” he said on the call. “I know that you expected to win, we expected to win, we were disappointed with the result, we hadn’t anticipated it, and it was very close but close doesn’t count in this business.”
He continued: “And so now we’re looking and saying, ‘O.K., what can we do going forward?’ But frankly we’re still so troubled by the past, it’s hard to put together our plans from the future.” . . .Still, Mr. Romney, ever the data-driven former consultant, offered a brief post-mortem analysis of where he and his campaign had fallen short. Last Wednesday and Thursday, he had convened informal what-went-wrong sessions in his Boston headquarters, where he and a small team of senior advisors pored over the numbers with Mr. Newhouse. And on the call, Mr. Romney also echoed a theme from the campaign trail, saying that while the Mr. Obama “made a big effort on small thing,” his message had been about ‘big issues.’
“Our campaign, in contrast, was talking about big issues for the whole country —military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth,” he said. “And by the way, as you’ll hear from Neil, our strategy worked well with many people, but for those who were given a specific gift, if you will, our strategy did not work terribly well.”
You’ll note Romney indulges in the “shellshock” meme to describe his reaction to losing, with a weak claim that he, like the donors, had also believed their own polls and persuasion apparatus. He avers that like them he’s still getting over it all. On TPM there’s been a vigorous debate about whether it’s plausible that the Romney-Ryan camp was really shocked to lose last week, and is supposedly still getting over it. I have a few questions in this area: ) Could they have been so naive as to believe their own hype? 2) Should we call them true believers enclosed in a bubble they’ve stopped noticing even surrounds them? 3) Or cagey pols who want to move on from this without a taint on their reputations, having through political and moral malpractice actually misspent so many hundreds of millions? I agree with Josh Marshall that Romney and his staff would rather be associated with the former than the latter.
Not only does Mitt’s portrayal of President Obama as Gift-Bestower-in-Chief show a consistent worldview–from the 47% remarks to today–show that he really believes a majority of American voters expect ‘stuff’ from the government. Worse, though, he also degrades the ‘stuff’ given them, like they were all baubles. Healthcare, college tuition, and legal status for immigrants–these are hardly luxuries. What a selfish man, for one who has so much to believe that taxpayers and the government should be miserly with people who have so much less.