Romney video scandal raises questions on both sides

1 Oct

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney expressed his true opinions on voters who support President Barack Obama during a private fundraiser held in May.  Mother Jones was first to obtain video footage of Romney speaking at the fundraiser.  He openly discussed his foreign policy ideas as well as his campaign strategy, using harsh words he would never say in a public setting:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.”

Romney went on with racist comments such as “Had I been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot of winning this.”  Romney also told the audience that “women are open to supporting me,” but that “we are having a much harder time with Hispanic voters, and if the Hispanic voting bloc becomes as committed to the Democrats as the African American voting bloc in the past, why, we’re in trouble as a party and, I think, as a nation.”

Romney spoke freely to his fellow millionaires, displaying his disgust for almost half of United States citizens.  He contradicted himself by saying he could not speak such degrading words about Obama in public.  However, he then clumped all Obama voters into a group of Democratic moochers that hardly contribute anything to society.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina expressed her view on the quotes by Romney at the fundraiser:

“It’s shocking that a candidate for President of the United States would go behind closed doors and declare to a group of wealthy donors that half the American people view themselves as ‘victims,’ entitled to handouts, and are unwilling to take ‘personal responsibility’ for their lives.  It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation.”

Some Romney supporters believe the quotes about the 47 percent of Americans should be interpreted differently than they are being explained by many news outlets.  Some say the quotes are made in the context of the voters Romney is trying to reach.  They believe he’s simply telling followers why certain themes work and others don’t, especially at those themes that relate to Obama supporters. 

Romney supporters also fight back with his campaign statement:

            Mitt Romney wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy. As the governor has made clear all year, he is concerned about the growing number of people who are dependent on the federal government, including the record number of people who are on food stamps, nearly one in six Americans in poverty, and the 23 million Americans who are struggling to find work. Mitt Romney’s plan creates 12 million new jobs in four years, grows the economy and moves Americans off of government dependency and into jobs.

However, this statement was made as damage control for Romney’s image after the video was released.

The video that was originally posted by Mother Jones has led to much speculation about the reasonable right to privacy for a presidential candidate.  The unedited video on the Mother Jones website was shot from a hidden camera on a table to Romney’s left side.

The private fundraiser where Romney spoke was at a private residence in Boca Raton.  It would seem that the home owner and Romney would both have a case against the person who shot the video footage, and possibly Mother Jones as well. 

Romney verified the comments that he made at the fundraiser while even repeating some at a public press conference following the video’s leak.  So at this point it would seem highly unlikely that Romney would take any legal action against the person responsible for the video and Mother Jones.  However, they both could still face some sort of legal action from the owner of the home where the fundraiser was held. 

So has this video scandal hurt Romney in the polls?  The answer is yes.  On the date that the video was released, President Obama was winning in the popular vote by 4.1 percentage points.  As of Thursday he has gained additional ground in the polls and now leads the popular vote by 5.7 percentage points.  This is a gain of 1.6 percentage points since the video was released.  Whether the video leak is directly responsible for Obama’s rise in the polls will never be truly certain.  However, the only thing that can be said for sure at this point is that Romney is in a bind in the polls.

Regardless as to how the information in this video was released, I think that it’s a good thing that it was.  Romney had the option to take legal action after the video was released, but he chose to confirm his statements instead.  

The fact is, the video was released whether anyone agrees or disagrees with it.  It’s already been copied and posted all over the Internet to the point that it would be impossible to fully make it “go away.” 

Regardless of the fact that Romney was in a private setting, the comments that he made about many of the people in this country were real.  There is an argument for a right to privacy, but this man is trying to become the president.  I think it’s safe to say presidents of this country end up giving up the majority of their privacy rights when taking office, and even while just running for office.  

Presidential candidates have the right to know exactly what voters think about them, why shouldn’t we have the right to know what they really think about us?

 

Taylor Chobanian

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