‘Not elegantly stated’

Updated
 

By late yesterday afternoon, the Romney campaign was in the middle of a political firestorm, stemming from secretly-recorded comments the candidate made at a fundraiser. In the video, Romney is seen expressing contempt for nearly the half the country, chastising the elderly and the working families who don’t pay federal income taxes for considering themselves “victims” who fail to “take personal responsibility.”

Late last night, the Republican candidate delivered a brief statement, hoping to quell the controversy (this is a slightly longer version of the clip Tricia posted earlier).

For those who can’t watch clips online, the full transcript of his comments is available, but the key part of the statement is the fact that Romney simply endorsed everything seen in the clip. He conceded his recorded comments were “not elegantly stated,” and were delivered “off the cuff,” but nevertheless recommitted himself to the underlying sentiment.

As a reporter asked, “Governor, are all of the things you said in the video things you believe? Are those core convictions?” Romney walked off the stage.

Also note, Romney argued that this kind of rhetoric is routine, suggesting the argument is something he talks about “a good deal in rallies and speeches and so forth.” That’s not quite right – I’ve read the transcripts of hundreds of Romney speeches and addresses, and I’ve never heard express divisive contempt for nearly the half the country.

It’s true that the argument isn’t unique – plenty on the right talk like this all the time – it’s just not something Romney personally repeats in public. As Dave Weigel put it, “This is Tea Party rhetoric churned into something new and stupid.”

Last week, given a chance to walk back his dishonest exploitation of American deaths in Libya, Romney chose to double down on the offensive smear. Last night, Romney was again given a chance to walk back his disdainful remarks about nearly half the country, and again, he doubled down. I guess he takes the whole “no apologies” thing rather literally.

The arrogance, the hyper-elitism, the tone-deaf political skills … it’s all just breathtaking.

Mitt Romney

'Not elegantly stated'

Updated