The Romney campaign is proudly circulating this video of Mitt Romney dressing down an Occupy Wall Street protester with this line: “America’s right, and you’re wrong.”
“GREAT VIDEO,” Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom Tweeted just now. And for all I know, this sort of confrontation will help Romney among South Carolina Republicans and prevent Newt from pulling off a major upset. It probably makes for really good optics among some swing voters, too:
The protester loudly shouts a question at Romney: What does he plan to do for the 99 percent, given that he’s part of the one percent? Romney responds:
Let me tell you something. America is a great nation, because we’re a united nation. And those who are trying to divide the nation, as you’re trying to do here, and as our president is doing, are hurting this country seriously. The right course for America is not to try to divide America, and try and divid us between one and another. it’s to come together as a nation.
And if you’ve got a better model — if you think China’s better, or Russia’s better, or Cuba’s better, or North Korea’s better — I’m glad to hear all about it.
But you know what? America’s right, and you’re wrong.
Clearly this protester isn’t someone who wants to discuss inequality only in “quiet rooms.”
In all seriousness, I’d dispute the idea that these Occupy protesters constitute a major threat to America. After all, which is the greater threat to the country’s future — them, or the things they are protesting? It’s also interesting to contrast Romney's response — in which he drew a distiction between the protesters on one side and “America” on the other — with Colin Powell’s recent suggestion that the protests are “as American as apple pie.”
I’m not defending heckling. But I did think we’d gotten past the point where a major party presidential candidate would respond to this kind of thing with the functional equivalent of “go back to Russia.” I guess not.