First Round: Victim mentality

Poor old Mitt. When your opponents are trying to characterise you as an out-of-touch asset-stripping plutocrat with no compassion for the struggles of working people, it’s probably not a good idea to add fuel to the fire by criticising your country’s widespread dependency culture while having dinner with other rich people in a mansion.

In September, leaked footage from a private fundraiser – reportedly held at the home of Sun Capital Partners co-founder Marc Leder – showed would-be President Romney explaining why there was no point him worrying about almost half of the electorate.

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the President no matter what… There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them, who believe they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing,” he said.

He also criticised said ‘victims’ for not paying any income tax – slightly dodgy ground for someone who paid an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent in 2011, well below the national average of about around 20 percent.

Of course, that’s largely because he receives so much of his income in the form of dividends from Bain, which are taxed at the capital gains rate of 15 percent – and it’s partly because of the deductions related to his (very admirable) $4 million in charitable donations. But this kind of nuance isn’t particularly easy to get across on the campaign trail.

In First Round’s humble opinion, the footage actually shows what many of his old private equity contemporaries have always said: that away from the cameras (at least in theory), he’s an engaging, candid and entertaining speaker.  But at this rate, White House staff are unlikely to get to experience this first-hand. n