Romney’s 47 percent first used by Nixon?


Former President Richard Nixon. (Anonymous/AP)

Apparently 47 is not a good number either. That’s the percentage of irresponsible, freeloading voters former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney decided months ago that he can’t and won’t try to win over.

Turns out that 47 percent has an historic place in presidential campaign history. And, wouldn’t you know it, President Nixon may have been the first to use it to great effect forty years ago in his 1972 re-election campaign Sen. George McGovern.

Nixon’s commercial shows a hard-hatted construction worker perched on a beam in an unfinished Manhattan high-rise, munching on a sandwich.

As the worker looks down on the traffic below, an announcer intones: “Sen. George McGovern recently submitted a welfare bill to the Congress” that “would make 47 percent of the people of the United States eligible for welfare, 47 percent,” the announcer repeats, and to help the arithmetically challenged — “almost every other person in the country would be on welfare.”

The construction worker appears increasingly concerned when the announcer asks: “And who’s going to pay for this? Well if you are not one out of two people on welfare, you do.” The hard hat stops munching and stares unhappily into the camera.

The 56-second spot was sponsored by “Democrats for Nixon.”

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

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