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Posted at 10:39 AM ET, 11/16/2012

Republicans disagree with Romney's language, not his policies

ABC News has released the full audio of Mitt Romney’s call to donors, where he attributed his loss to President Obama’s willingness to give “gifts” to supporters. As with the 47 percent comments, his remarks sound worse when heard in full context.

“What the president’s campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote, and that strategy worked.”

Romney also commented on Latino voters in particular:

"In order to get Hispanic voters, what the president did we would be very reluctant to do, which is one, provide amnesty for those that are here illegally, and number two put in place Obamacare, which basically is ten thousand dollars a family. It’s a proven political strategy, which is give a bunch of money to a group and, guess what, they’ll vote for you.

There are two things worth noting. First, there’s no doubt that Romney is speaking about the nonwhite members of Obama’s coalition — with all the ugliness that entails. But none of this is incongruent with Romney’s campaign for president. Throughout the summer, and well into the fall, Romney argued that Obama was “gutting” welfare reform and “giving out checks” in order to “shore up his base.” Moreover, he repeatedly criticized Obama for giving out “free stuff,” echoing the “makers and takers” rhetoric of the Republican Party writ large.

Indeed, this is why Bobby Jindal’s criticism of Romney rings hollow. For the current GOP, including its governors, Romney’s position — that the government shouldn’t provide access to health care — is completely anodyne. It’s why Jindal and other GOP governors have opted not to create state exchanges for the Affordable Care Act, or agree to the law’s Medicaid expansion.

To wit, this summer, in explaining his decision to reject Medicaid funds, Jindal declared that Republicans need to “repeal Obamacare” so that they can “end this culture of dependence.” If there’s a problem with Romney’s statement, it was the language, not the sentiment. At the moment, there’s little indication that Republicans — especially the ones criticizing Romney — have rethought their commitment to the policies offered in this election, few of which speak to the actual concerns of ordinary Americans.

One last thing: Ignoring, for now, the fact that the Affordable Care Act provides benefits for all Americans — and not just African Americans and Latinos — there’s something odd about this line of criticism. Voters elect and support politicians to do things for them. There’s nothing illegitimate about the fact that Obama won by providing tangible benefits to people who needed them. And in fact, if elected president, this was Romney’s plan as well — large tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, who don’t need them but would like them all the same. That Romney doesn’t see those measures as “gifts” is a sign of how blinded he is by his class.

Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer at The American Prospect, where he writes a blog.

Read more from The Washington Post:

Eugene Robinson: Dear Republicans — start listening

E.J. Dionne: The post-election reckoning

Dana Milbank: Let those poor red states secede

Michael Gerson: Republicans’ tiny tent

 

By  |  10:39 AM ET, 11/16/2012

 
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