A lot of people have been giving Mitt Romney a bit of stick ever since the line “I don’t care about the poor” became a phenomenon. He has been lambasted by Democrats and Republicans alike, those who claim to be able to connect with America’s common man while he does not. Now I do not know if people miss this point deliberately but there is something being overlooked in what he said.
In a bid for more accuracy, Romney said something along the lines of “I don’t care about the superrich, they can take care of themselves and I don’t care about the very poor – there’s a safety net there. I care about the middle class.” If I recall correctly, he said something to this effect during a debate as well; I watched it live. Indubitably, this is much different from what is being propagated by liberal media and what is being said by those who seek the perfect anti-Romney. For all his flaws, it is imperative to realize that the popular version of his statement is fundamentally different from his complete statement. I would argue that this is Willard Mitt Romney’s attempt to reach out to the average Joe, an attempt that has been contorted into monstrosity for no fault of his own.
On the other hand, maybe it was only a matter of time before his campaign was hit by somewhat disingenuous attacks. In November 2011, the Romney campaign released an advertisement that contained footage of President Obama saying “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” Most people would be wondering why on earth Obama said that. He didn’t. He was quoting John McCain and the current Republican hopeful’s camp conveniently spun the footage to make a disingenuous, suspect piece of advertising. I guess he cannot really have much of a reason to complain about such advertising. Disingenuity is a dish best served cold and out of context.
Moving on from the much-maligned Romney, let’s look at the man who can claim to connect with average conservative Republicans – Rick Santorum. Viewed as crazy by some and hypocritical by others, I see his rapid rise metamorphosing into a rapid fall. I don’t feel special by predicting such a thing but after all, that is what I predicted about Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich and I was correct, as were many other observers. However, there are two things that we can trust Santorum for: staunch social conservatism and blue collar appeal. We all know about his views related to religion and social policy but I think the reason he came close to Romney in Michigan is his ability to connect. He garnered the most votes amongst the voters without college degrees and the voters with low income. Contrast this with the image of Mitt Romney as a rapacious propagator of “exploitive” (sic) capitalism who destroyed jobs at a time when many required them. The people must have taken umbrage at that.
But just pause to think about Rick Santorum. We can thank Ron Paul for some tidbits about our friendly neighborhood Pennsylvanian statesman. Paul describes Santorum as a supporter of ‘big government’ as he has a record that boasts support for the No Child Left Behind Act, the raising of the debt ceiling and other expansionary programs that do not necessarily fall in line with conservative ideology. When his candidacy is rigorously scrutinized, it will coincide with the primaries in more liberal and moderate states, leading to a timely descent into the nothingness of talk show deals in place of the nomination.
Last but not least, Ron Paul is still going strong. His affable and effervescent performance in the debate last Wednesday demonstrated that his message is still being communicated. His incessant and hawk-eyed criticism of his fellow candidates is bound to help Romney but it suffices to say that the Republican nomination is not as dour and predictable as many observers thought it would be. The only disappointment is the absence of Jon Huntsman. Oh well.
Nikhil Rao is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com.