With his Florida victory in hand, Mitt Romney (R-1 percent) did a series of round-robin interviews with the television morning shows. But he skittered way off course during his interview on CNN. I kid you not, the man who looks like he fired your spouse, foreclosed on your house and shipped your kid’s job overseas told anchor Soledad O’Brien, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.”
ROMNEY: By the way, I’m in this race because I care about Americans. I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling and I’ll continue to take that message across the nation.
O’BRIEN: You just said I’m not concerned about the very poor because they have a safety net. And I think there are lots of very poor Americans who are struggling who would say that sounds odd. Can you explain that?
ROMNEY: Well, you had to finish the sentence, Soledad. I said I’m not concerned about the very poor that have the safety net, but if it has holes in it, I will repair them. . . . The — the challenge right now — we will hear from the Democrat Party, the plight of the poor, and — and there’s no question, it’s not good being poor and we have a safety net to help those that are very poor. But my campaign is focused on middle-income Americans. My campaign — you can choose where to focus. You can focus on the rich. That’s not my focus. You can focus on the very poor. That’s not my focus. My focus is on middle-income Americans, retirees living on social security, people who can’t find work, folks who have kids that are getting ready to go to college. That — these are the people who’ve been most badly hurt during the Obama years. We have a very ample safety net. And we can talk about whether it needs to be strengthened or whether there are holes in it. But we have Food Stamps. We have Medicaid. We have housing vouchers. We have programs to help the poor. But the middle-income Americans, they’re the folks that are really struggling right now and they need someone who can help get the economy going for them.
Poor Mitt. Perhaps I’m being overly charitable, but I see what he was trying to get at. The super rich are coddled by the tax code and the very poor have the safety net, which Republicans have been trying to shrink or outright eliminate for quite some time. Romney wants to focus on the middle class, which is way too poor for the advantages of the super rich and not poor enough to qualify for the safety net. That makes sense.
And yet this former governor of Massachusetts, whose net worth hovers in the $250 million range and who is the son of a wealthy former car company chief, has the uncanny ability to muddle his message by repeatedly sticking his ample silver foot in his mouth.
“I’m not concerned about the very poor” comes a week after Romney said, while standing in front of a foreclosed Florida home, “Now, the banks aren’t bad people.” And that came 15 days after he said, “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.” You can read his other “D’oh!”-worthy comments if you click here.
Yesterday, a Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll showed that 49 percent of those surveyed believe Romney doesn’t understand the problems of average Americans. And every day, he says something to prove them right. Yes, I know I said it was oddly endearing that he has such a difficult time talking about his own wealth. But for someone who says he “cares about Americans,” his unwitting and regular display of his tin ear is now just plain odd.