There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That, that’s an entitlement. And [they think] the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what … These are people who pay no income tax … My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
Daniel Larison writes in the American Conservative: “There is no way to spin these comments in Romney’s favor, just as there was no way to defend Romney’s blunders on the embassy and consulate attacks last week … Many of the people Romney was disparaging in this video are reliably Republican voters, and they have just been reminded that their party’s nominee has no respect for them. If ‘respect conservatism’ exists, this is the opposite of it.”
Larison adds: “More than anything else, what makes this video damaging is that it confirms what most Americans already suspect about Romney: He holds at least half the country in contempt, including many of the people that normally vote Republican.”
From my experiences traveling to meet Tea Party voters in Florida and Arizona, I can say that many of them are part of the 47 percent. (This map, for example, shows how many of those income tax “nonpayers” live in the South.)
For Romney, the silence about his comments among likely supporters on social media is deafening. Is this the moment where he loses not only swing voters but also some of his base? We’ll know for sure in November, but between now and then we can expect a lot more analysis — on and off social media — of his comments.
Farai Chideya is a journalist, author and distinguished writer in residence at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.