With the party conventions over and the debates a few weeks out, the candidates running for president are now facing intense daily scrutiny from the media and voters.
Perhaps most aware of this is Mitt Romney, who has a new problem on his hands after already having to deal with his heavily criticized remarks concerning the Obama administration’s handling of the unrest in the Middle East.
Now, a leaked video from a Romney fundraiser shows the candidate speaking dismissively of Barack Obama’s perceived voter base. Romney explained his electoral process by saying, "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 the government … And they will vote for this president no matter what. These are people who pay no income tax.”
Once made public, these remarks and others from the event in which he claims there will never be peace in the Middle East and that he might have a better shot at winning the election if he were Latino, caused a firestorm amongst Obama supporters and quite a backlash for Romney.
Romney video from Mother Jones:
Romney's comments on 47 percent:
The GOP hopeful held a press conference to address the videos, but did not walk his statements back and stood by his original message that those who don’t pay taxes will find Obama a more appealing candidate than himself, because his plan centers on reducing the size of government and cutting taxes.
Several media outlets are comparing this gaffe to Obama’s statement in 2008, also at a private fundraiser, that voters in rural areas “cling to guns or religion.”
Do the two statements carry the same weight? Will Romney be able to move past the conversation in the same way Obama did, or at least wrangle it enough to win the election? And what about the math here, what does that 47 percent number really mean? Are all those people definitely Democrats, or are there some Republicans in the mix? There are less than 50 days until people go to vote, how are both candidates faring in the polls?
Matt Rodriguez, Democratic strategist; former senior Obama advisor in 2008, who now runs the Los Angeles office for the Dewey Square Group
Jonathan Wilcox, Republican Strategist; former speech writer for Governor Pete Wilson
Lynn Vavreck, Professor of Political Science, UCLA; co-author of the newly released e-book The Gamble: Choice & Chance in the 2012 Election