What constitutes an ‘opportunity’


This week’s release of the secretly-recorded Mitt Romney fundraiser generated all kinds of news, but there may have been one more element that didn’t make the original cut.

We know about the revelations involving the “47 percent,” Romney wishing he were Latino, his confusion over what a dirty bomb is, and his decision to give up on the Middle East peace process before he’s even elected.

But BuzzFeed reported yesterday that this is the video “that keeps on giving,” and flagged this portion of the recording.

For those can’t quite hear the exchange, a donor noted, “When Carter was president, we had hostages. Ronald Reagan was able to make a statement even before he became, he was actually sworn in, and the hostages were released.” Romney immediately added, “On the day of his inauguration.”

Let’s pause for a moment to note that the Republicans’ preferred myth on this is completely wrong.

Regardless, the donor asked how Romney can “duplicate that scenario.” The candidate began responding by complaining about voters’ lack of interest in international affairs, followed by additional complaints about President Obama withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. Romney added:

“In [the 1980] election, in the Jimmy Carter election, the fact that we had hostages in Iran, I mean, that was all we talked about. And we had the two helicopters crash in the desert, I mean, that was the focus, and so him solving that made all the difference in the world. I’m afraid today that if you simply got Iran to agree to stand down on nuclear weapons, they’d go, ‘Now hold on. It’s really a-’ I mean, if something of that nature presents itself I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity.”

The charitable interpretation of this is that Romney would see a hostage crisis as an “opportunity” related to foreign policy and Iran.

And then there’s a less charitable interpretation.

Josh Marshall had an item on this:

He has a couple stopped and started sentences and at some points it’s not entirely clear to me what his meaning is. But on this last point he seems to be saying that if a major international crisis erupted he’d do what he could to turn it to political advantage.

In light of Romney’s actions last week, when he tried to exploit a crisis in the Middle East for partisan gain, he hasn’t exactly earned the benefit of the doubt in this area.

That said, it’s not entirely clear to me in this clip whether Romney meant “opportunity” in a policy sense or a political one. Take a listen and see what you can make of it.

Mitt Romney and Iran

What constitutes an 'opportunity'