Some Republicans are reportedly dismayed Mitt Romney blamed his loss on President Obama buying the vote with entitlement "gifts." Politico's Mike Allen reports, "Republicans tell us these comments convinced them that Romney just doesn't get it, and that '47 percent' was no slip of the tongue." But shouldn't they be happy to finally have proof Romney wasn't faking it? Republicans should celebrate Romney, because he represents a unifying force for the GOP. The party is divided along class lines -- the wealthy business leaders who want unpopular tax policies vs. the politically incorrect hicks who think Rush Limbaugh's jokes about black people are hilarious. Romney represents the final melding of the two -- a handsome business executive in a nice shirt saying exactly the same things as Limbaugh.
Maintaining this coalition has been difficult for conservatives for years, and the cracks started to show after Election Day -- GOP leaders complaining about brainwashed voters, bloggers railing against sellout consultants swimming in pools of money. So here comes Mitt Romney to the rescue! In a 20-minute conference call Wednesday, Romney explained to donors that he lost to Obama because Obama had given so many treats to specific demographic groups -- "especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people... In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups." Romney detailed those presents:
"You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge... Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group."
Romney also said, "Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women." That sounds familiar! Here's Rush Limbaugh the day after the election:
"What are we supposed to do now? In order to get the Hispanic or Latino vote, does that mean open the borders and embrace the illegals?
I want you to think about this. Is that what this means? Is that what the Republican establishment means? We've gotta reach out to Hispanics, is that what they mean? If we're not getting the female vote, do we become pro-choice? Do we start passing out birth control pills?"
Yet despite perfectly blending the policy preferences of Republican donors with the biases of Republican voters, Romney's own allies are selling him out. "I think that’s absolutely wrong," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said at the Republican Governors Association meeting in Las Vegas Wednesday. "Two points on that: One, we have got to stop dividing the American voters. We need to go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote." But in August, Jindal was planning a speech to the Republican National Convention, which was organized thematically around the job creator Twitter joke, "You built that." Jindal's speech was cancelled as Hurricane Isaac approached his state, but he told the New Orleans Times-Picayune what he planned to say. In the newspaper's paraphrase, that was to call for a shrinking of the 47 percent: "Romney is committed to lower taxes and less reliance on government to restore the economy and bring back the confidence that almost all Americans once had that 'our children will achieve more than their parents.'" It's not that Jindal -- and Romney -- didn't want 100 percent of the votes back in September, it's that they thought enough voters would be won over by that social-program-cutting message. It was pretty clear which programs Romney had in mind to cut -- he ran ads falsely claiming Obama was eliminating the work requirement from welfare.
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New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte said she doesn't agree with Romney's "gifts" comment, either. But in her convention speech, she clearly was cultivating a sense of grievance among people like Romney's donors. In explaining the cost of Obamacare, she said a man couldn't open a second restaurant because of the regulations. "Is that what we want for small businesses in America - to be afraid to grow because of the government?... To be told 'you're earning too much'?"
Likewise, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said on CNN that the GOP should be more than "just for people who are currently not dependent on the government... It's for all Americans." Yet during the presidential campaign, Walker's core complaint was that Romney wasn't using running mate Paul Ryan enough to sell that entitlement-cutting message. "I thought [picking Ryan] was a signal that this guy [Romney] was getting serious, he’s getting bold; it’s not necessarily even a frustration over the way Paul Ryan’s been used but rather in the larger context," Walker said in September. But what is Ryan bold about? Dramatically cutting back entitlements. Ryan, much more than Romney, has said over the years he views the major problem confronting the U.S. to be the ratio of makers to takers. Mitt Romney finally makes the case that Walker wants to hear, and he rejects it.