During a conference call with donors, Mitt Romney reportedly said that President Obama targeted certain demographic groups, such as African-Americans, Hispanics, and young voters, by conferring “gifts” on them. Among the gifts Romney reportedly cited were Obamacare and “amnesty” for children of illegal immigrants.
Romney’s remarks were made to a private audience. However, reporters from the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times apparently were able to listen in on the call.
Romney is said to have “blamed” his defeat on the “gifts” bestowed by Obama. However, the quotations that appear in the New York Times report don’t fully support this characterization.
“High-minded” Republican politicians and commentators promptly attacked Romney. For example, Governor Bobby Jindal said he “absolutely rejects” Romney’s contention. He added that Republicans must “stop dividing American voters” and “fight for 100 percent of the vote.”
Jindal’s response, which is similar to that of Governor Scott Walker, represents standard-issue political happy talk. The Democrats engaged in it after their defeat in 2004 — recall the 50 state strategy of their chairman, Howard Dean. But the Dems never pursued such a strategy. And this year they reverted entirely to the standard “50 percent plus one” strategy, using just the kind of pandering Romney described.
Jindal and Walker can be excused for their “high-mindedness.” After all, they intend to run for office — and maybe high office — in the future. But Romney is done with politics, and can speak his mind (unfortunately, he also spoke his mind to donors while he was still a candidate).
To what extent is Romney right? I don’t consider Obamacare as a whole to be pandering or a “gift.” It is better viewed, as Seth Mandel says, as an attempt (albeit misguided) to solve a very real national problem along traditional Democratic Party lines. But Romney reportedly focused on the aspects of Obamacare that allow young adults to stay on their parents’ health care plan and that provide free birth control. These are gifts.
Any benefit conferred upon illegal aliens (including the offspring of those who entered the country illegal) should also be view as a gift, since by law they should not even be in the U.S. The expansion of the food stamp program is a gift, albeit one that began under George W. Bush. So is forgiveness of student loans.
I doubt that Jindal and Walker put themselves through the painful experience of watching every night of the Democratic convention, as I did. If they had, they would be hard-pressed to deny, or underestimate the extent of, Democratic pandering to specific demographic groups — the ones, in fact, that probably put Obama over the top in a pretty close race.
To attribute Romney’s defeat to Democratic pandering to losers, have-nots, and the immature may not be the best way to talk about the matter. But it is not an unreasonable way to view it.