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Boychuk: Mitt Romney refocuses the campaign

Mitt Romney during a soundcheck on the final

Mitt Romney during a soundcheck on the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. (Aug. 30, 2012) Credit: Getty Chip Somodevilla

No, Mitt Romney is not talking about you. Unless, of course, you never planned to vote for him. Then, yes, Romney is talking about you.

Don’t feel insulted. Turns out, according to the latest Associated Press poll, 47 percent of likely voters say they would vote for Barack Obama in November, versus 46 percent who said they would back Romney. So he was right on the money there. It’s a tight race.

In the video, Romney says it’s “not my job” to worry about the 47 percent who likely won’t vote for him. He wasn’t saying it wouldn’t be his job to worry about them if he’s elected president, as Obama’s campaign spinners breathlessly claim. Romney was saying he’s not concerned with winning their votes.

As with many things Romney says, that’s a head scratcher. Ronald Reagan, for one, had a campaign message that appealed to millions of working-class Democrats.

Romney’s message, incredibly, is much harder to discern. How can that be? He’s running against a man whose administration has added more than $1.5 trillion to the budget deficit, and another $6 trillion to the national debt even as the economy slogs along at barely 2 percent growth in gross domestic product. Meantime, unemployment hovers over 8 percent and labor participation is at its lowest in more than 30 years.

So who are those 47 percent, really? Romney knows that plenty of CEOs are as “dependent upon government” as any food stamp recipient. Maybe even more so. (Solyndra, anyone?) The crony capitalism disguised as economic stimulus of the past four years has been breathtaking to behold. That kind of dependency is killing the country.

Under the circumstances, Romney could use his “gaffe” to explain what exactly he would do differently. It’s a message everyone — especially the 47 percent — needs to hear.

Ben Boychuk is associate editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.


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