Soledad O’Brien grills Romney aide: Your campaign is ‘just a hot mess’
Romney adviser Bay Buchanan on Tuesday declared that the release of leaked campaign videos showing the Republican presidential nominee writing off 47 percent of the country as “dependant” and “entitled” was just a “bump in the road.”
In an edited video published by Mother Jones on Monday, Mitt Romney had told wealthy donors that almost half of the country “pay no income tax” and were going to vote for President Barack Obama.
“My job is is not to worry about those people,” Romney asserted. “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
On Tuesday, Buchanan had the unenviable task of trying to do damage control while being grilled by CNN host Soledad O’Brien.
“As a candidate, he can’t worry about those he can’t get,” Buchanan explained, adding that the media should be focusing on “one out of every six Americans are in poverty today and that 47 million are taking food stamps in order to take care of themselves and their families.”
“Listen, I fully understand the strategy is to turn to the ‘real problem’ and talk about something else, but I’m going to keep you on this,” O’Brien said. “He says 47 percent of Americans pay no tax. That’s not correct. … Forty-seven percent of those people who pay no income tax — look at that chart there — 61 percent of those folks, they’re paying payroll tax, money is coming out of their paycheck. It’s being described as the myth of sort of the deadbeat nation.”
O’Brien continued by reading a satirical op-ed titled “Thurston Howell Romney” that was written by conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks: “The people who receive the disproportionate share of government spending are not big-government lovers. They are Republicans. They are senior citizens. They are white men with high school degrees. As Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution has noted, the people who have benefited from the entitlements explosion are middle-class workers, more so than the dependent poor.”
“So essentially, didn’t Mitt Romney in these leaked tapes bash his own voters?” O’Brien wondered. “Those are the people who are voting for Mitt Romney.”
“Honey,” Buchanan replied, “He recognized that more and more people are becoming dependant on government.”
“Aren’t the people he’s bashing to these wealthy donors, these are Republicans, these are white men with high school diplomas?” O’Brien pressed. “These very people are the people who are going to vote for him and now you have a major problem. … He’s not talking — 47 percent of the nation is not on food stamps.”
“It was inarticulate, I admit,” Buchanan said.
“There’s a sense that the campaign is in big trouble,” O’Brien pointed out. “Bloomberg [News] writes, ‘Today Mitt Romney lost the election.’ Politico says the wheels are falling off. Is that correct? Is it just a hot mess in there?”
“Certainly this is a bump in the road,” Buchanan agreed. “But is anybody looking at the campaign of Barack Obama? He’s spent the last week with America watching as his foreign policy of appeasement and apologies has disintegrated. We have problems around this world in all the Muslim countries, where anti-American sentiment is unbelievable. And that’s a good week?”
“But aren’t you kind of answering your own question,” O’Brien pointed out. “When you say, isn’t anybody looking at the campaign of Barack Obama, isn’t it like, ‘No because look at the headlines’? You’re drawing focus from your own campaign by these headlines.”
“No, that’s an indictment on the media, Soledad,” Buchanan insisted. “Is it not a story that one out of every six Americans is in poverty? Is that not a much bigger story, that 47 million Americans have to take food stamps to take care of themselves and their families and that’s because of four years of Barack Obama, and that he has no new fresh ideas on how to put America back to work? That’s what Mitt Romney’s all about, that’s what our campaign is about. That seems to be a whole lot more important than some comment that he may have inarticulately stated.”
“I appreciate your spin on it,” O’Brien concluded. “But I think ‘inarticulately stated’ is the least of the problems.”
Watch this video from CNN’s Starting Point, broadcast Aug. 18, 2012.