Romney also told the donors that the pursuit of Middle East peace is likely to remain “an unsolved problem” because the Palestinians have “no interest whatsoever” in reaching a peace agreement with Israel. The pessimistic comments put him at odds with the Republican Party platform, which expresses support for “two democratic states — Israel with Jerusalem as its capital and Palestine — living in peace and security.”
Several prominent Republicans worried on Tuesday that the video had put the Romney campaign into crisis mode once again after a series of setbacks in the last week.
“This is dangerous – not because he’s going to lose that 47 percent of the vote – but because you’re going to start seeing suburban voters, swing voters, storm away from the campaign as quickly as possible unless he fixes it,” said Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, whose MSNBC program “Morning Joe” is a favorite of Beltway insiders. He said Romney was reeling from “one of the worst weeks for any presidential candidate in a general election that any of us can remember.”
New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks compared Romney to Thurston Howell III, the wealthy character from the television show “Gilligan’s Island” who embodied for many television viewers the behavior of elitist New Englanders.
Even before the controversy over the video, advisers, donors and other top Romney supporters depicted a campaign in turmoil, saying that a series of strategic errors have set back the effort.
They pointed to the decision not to aggressively combat the slew of television ads that the Obama campaign aired over the summer characterizing Romney as a ruthless technocrat who shipped jobs overseas during his time at Bain Capital and who has mysterious foreign investments. They also said the candidate’s overseas trip in July, which some top advisers urged him not to take, turned into such a mess that it jeopardized his credentials.
Furthermore, supporters said the Republican National Convention was a missed opportunity because Romney did not lay out a clear policy-driven vision and because the lauded biographical video was scrapped from prime time in favor of Clint Eastwood’s performance, which featured an empty chair.
Democrats have pounced on the video, launching a new ad campaign that plays off the “47 percent’’ remarks. At a press briefing, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, “Setting aside what Gov. Romney thinks, the president certainly does not think men and women on social security are irresponsible or victims, that students aren’t responsible or victims.... The broader point you hear him make is the need to come together as a country and work for what’s best for the country, especially the middle class, which is the backbone of this nation.”