The video currently doing the rounds in which Mitt Romney writes off 47% of the electorate as never going to vote for him because they’re “dependent upon government” looks rather like his “bitter gun clingers” moment. As with Romney’s remarks, Obama made his notorious claim to what he assumed was a “friendly” audience at a fundraiser during the 2008 primary campaign. Conservatives seized on Obama’s words as evidence of his innermost beliefs and his disdain for Middle America, and many thought they would handicap him in the general election. We know how that turned out.
The left is now crowing that Romney’s “revealing” gaffe has all but handed the election to Obama, and of course the big difference is that Romney’s remarks are sure to get a lot more coverage than Obama’s ever did. But while he’s being hammered on this by Democrats and their MSM allies, Romney can and should turn the situation to his advantage. His campaign quickly put out a statement in a bid to clarify his remarks, but Romney should go further and use this opportunity to rekindle the debate about the whole issue of entitlements and dependency on government.
As several commentators have pointed out, Romney’s numbers are muddled. He appears to be conflating the 47% of Americans who pay no federal income taxes (although, as Patrick Brennan points out at The Corner, many of that group do pay other taxes) with the 47% of voters that, as Jay Cost has noted, roughly constitute the “floor” of support for Democratic presidential candidates.