Is Romney too rich and out of touch?

February 1, 2012

Mitt Romney ran into a wall of criticism during what should have been his Florida victory lap when he said live on CNN this morning that he is “not concerned about the very poor” and the country has a safety net to protect them.

Democrats leaped onto the remark as yet another sign that the wealthy Republican frontrunner is out of touch with average Americans. Whether or not that is true, it was another gaffe by a candidate who is becoming increasingly known for misspeaking on the campaign trail, especially on issues related to wealth and poverty, even as he blasts Democratic President Barack Obama for waging “class warfare.”

Last month, Romney said he had made “not very much” in speaking fees — and the total turned out to be $375,000. In December, he blundered in a debate by offering Texas Governor Rick Perry a $10,000 bet on healthcare policy. Earlier in the campaign, Romney came under fire for saying he liked to fire people, telling jobless workers in Florida that he, too, was unemployed. And he famously told a questioner at the Iowa State Fair that “corporations are people.”

Romney’s personal fortune has been estimated at $270 million, and his initial refusal to release his tax returns was harshly criticized in the campaigning for South Carolina’s Jan. 21 primary. That line of attack, and ads painting Romney as a heartless corporate raider, helped deliver the contest to Romney’s rival, Newt Gingrich, in a surprise upset. But Romney released the returns and cruised to a 14-point victory in Florida 10 days later after two strong debate performances and a blizzard of anti-Gingrich attack ads.

It remains to be seen how Romney’s wealth plays with Democrats and Independents if he ends up winning the nomination to oppose Obama in the general election on Nov. 6. But Republican strategists said they did not expect it to be an issue for the party’s base as he fights for the nomination.

“Republicans are aspirational people,” said Carlos Curbelo, a Republican strategist based in Miami. “I don’t anticipate any sort of resentment towards Romney because of his ‘healthy’ tax return.”


PICTURE CREDIT: Mitt Romney smiles from his car window as he departs from a rally held at Geno’s Chowder & Sandwich Shop in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, December 27, 2011. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

PICTURE CREDIT: A Romney fan at his Florida victory party holds a sign alluding to Romney’s reputation for enjoying firing workers. REUTERS/Mike Carlson

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