The Washington Post

Romney didn’t really say he enjoys firing people

Dems are jumping up and down this morning because, as Taegan Goddard puts it, they’ve “caught him on video saying he likes firing people.”

Let me go on record saying it would be misleading and unfair to clip the video in question in order to quote Romney this way: “I like being able to fire people.”

That’s because Romney didn’t really mean that, as video of his full quote shows:

“I want people to be able to own insurance if they wish to, and to buy it for themselves and perhaps keep it for the rest of their life, and to choose among different policies offered from companies across the nation. I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy.

“It also means if you don’t like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. If someone doesn’t give me the good service I need, I’m going to go get somebody else to provide that service to me.”

Romney was saying he likes to have the option of replacing his health insurance if he judges it to be sub par.

Of course, by Romney’s own standard of accuracy, clipping this down to “I like being able to fire people” is completely fair game. As you’ll recall, the Romney campaign boasted about their ad ripping Obama’s words out of context in order to show him saying it’s politically dangerous for him to talk about his economic record, when in fact he was quoting a McCain adviser saying this. Indeed, one Romney adviser even justified this move by claiming that, hey, Obama did say those actual words, and a second adviser said using the snippet is justifiable, because “all ads are propaganda.”

So by Romney’s standard, it wouldn’t be questionable at all to whittle Romney’s quote down to a claim that he enjoys the act of firing people. However, by more conventional standards of accuracy, it would be misleading to do that.

The fuller quote — “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me” — has a tone deaf, entitled quality that may give Republicans more pause about choosing him as their nominee. But no, Romney didn’t mean he takes pleasure in firing people.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.


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