Mitt Romney's "I don't care about the poor" moment was a blunder that makes Perry's "heartless" and "oops" moments look blunder-free. It made his $10,000 bet moment look fine in comparison. Although not immediatly, this blunder has cost Romney any hope of winning the nomination or the office of the president.
There are 2 major problems with Romney's comment that cause him grave harm:
- The first, and this is actually the lesser of his problems, is that it feeds into the narrative that Romney is rich and does not care for helping the poor. It feeds into Democratic attacks against Romney, and feeds into his pattern of making great wealth for himself at the expense of others.
- The second, and far more grave problem with the comment, is what this means for Romney in the GOP primary and with the GOP voter. The GOP voters do not believe that social welfare is the solution to help the poor. Rather than just given a man a fish, social conservatives want to teach him how to fish. Gingirch recieved a standing ovation talking about teaching the poor a good work ethic, creating jobs for them, and helping them to get better jobs and eventually to own those jobs. Romney's comment -- when taken in full context -- shows that Romney views the poor as a group to be taken care of and provided for by government without the need of focus or care to give them new oppertunities or to help them grow; but simply as folks who will now and always will be dependant on government.
This gaft is so bad -- not just because of what he said -- but also because of his handling of the mistake. Romney continues to cite the context of his statement to show that he supports programs for the poor. He supports the welfare system currently in place. This is directly at odds with one of the centeral themes of Newt's campaign -- giving the poor oppertunities and helping them to get a job, get a better job, and own that job. Newt want to raise people up; Romney to pay people off. Romney's efforts to provide damage controll are exclusivily focused on showing his interest in spending money to give to the poor to meet their needs for today; with no focus on getting them a job and raising them up so they can provide for themselves.
It may take some time for voters to fully digest this gaft, but when they do they will come to see Romney for what he actually and really is. Romney is someone who fundementally believes that he is better than the average American. Gingrich's campaign is focused on raising people up to be better. To rise the poor to become middle class, and the middle class to become rich. Romney's is different. The difference is a largely part of the difference in their world view.
Romney started his life rich. He always taught that since he is better than others, he needs to help those less fortunate. He gives to the poor because he thinks he is better than them and that they are dependent on him.
Gingrich's life has been one where he rose up from a middle-class life to where he is today. He was a military child and had a middle class upbrining. He become a professor, then joined the house, and then became speaker of the house, and now is a business owner. He does not believe he is fundementally better than others; rather, he believes that with hard work and ingenuity that others can become where he is. He wants to raise people up and give them that chances that he largely made from himself. His support for helping the poor is not to give them money, but to give them a job, have them learn a skill and get a better job, and then have them own the job.
Simply put, Romney believes in the intellectual viewpoint that was used to sell both social darwinism and communism. The idea that some people are better than others and that these people are destined to be a permenent upperclass/rulling class. Romney believes -- in his heart -- that the majority of people cannot make their own choices and that they need help from government. They need Romneycare, social welfare, and someone to tell them what to do.
Gingrich believes that all people are created equal and that they can -- through hard work -- rise up beyond their situation in life and prosper. He believes that government should help open doors for people and help them learn to open their own doors -- not that government should create a permenent class of dependants.
The choice is clear between Romney and his liberal mindset; and Gingrich who believes in the American dream. Romney's blunder revealed that even more clearly, and will cost him the election.