Do Americans, even in anxious times, prefer an optimistic leader or an angry one?
Mitt Romney himself has had a hard time defending his own callous comments about the 47 percent of Americans “who believe they are victims.”
Now Ann Romney and Paul Ryan are spinning themselves silly trying to clean up after him.
With a ridiculously soft interviewer on Denver’s KDVR Fox 31, Ann Romney said her husband was “absolutely not” expressing disdain for the 47 percent. “I know he cares,” she said, stressing several times what a caring person he is.
She also said his comments were “misunderstood” and “taken out of context.” Here’s how she interpreted them: “More and more people are falling into poverty, more, in particular, women are falling into poverty. There is a concern on his part, which is why he’s running. He wants to bring better economic opportunity to everybody.”
Her husband, she said, is concerned that “more and more will become more dependent” on government.
She also said that her husband “doesn’t need to do this for a job,” but that he wants to become president to “bring more certainty to people, especially to women.”
Paul Ryan, for his part, continued the “Message: He Cares” approach in an interview with WAVY in Newport News, VA.
"I think the point that Mitt is trying to make is that he cares not only about the middle class, he wants to grow the middle class," Ryan said. "He wants to get people out of poverty and into the middle class."
Ryan characterized Romney’s comments as “inarticulate,” but said: “We don't want to promote more government dependency. We want opportunity."
When pressed by the reporter about whether the 47 percent of Americans were “victims,” as Romney had called them, Ryan responded: "The way to get those 47 percent of Americans who are not income taxpayers to become taxpayers is to create jobs.”
When the reporter noted that “83 percent of that group are either seniors or working Americans,” Ryan didn’t have an answer for that.
But Ryan, when asked directly, said he would stand by Romney’s statement.
“Yeah,” he said, “the whole point he was trying to make was to get people from lives of dependency and economic stagnation that’s occurred in the Obama administration because of his failed policies, back to lives of self-sufficiency.”
For the record, here were Romney’s actual words as recorded on the now-infamous video. “There are 47 percent who are with [Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it,” Romney said on the video. “These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax . . . And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story “The Real Romney: Scorn on Ice."
Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter