Eight years ago, John Kerry was mocked relentlessly for this ham-fisted quote: "Who among us does not love NASCAR?" In reality, Kerry never said this -- Maureen Dowd made it up, and the media ran with it, losing sight of the joke -- but the wealthy Massachusetts politician was pilloried anyway. It was, his detractors said, illustrative of Kerry's detached elitism.
Kerry's quote was bogus. Mitt Romney's latest gem, however, is real.
The Democratic National Committee is suggesting that Mitt Romney made another out of touch remark this morning during a tour at the Daytona 500 in which Romney said that while he does not "closely" follow racing he does "have great some friends who are NASCAR team owners. "The remark came during a tour of team owner Richard Childress' facilities, when Romney was asked by an Associated Press reporter whether he follows car racing."Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans, but I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners," Romney responded.
In case you're inclined to see this as satire, the Associated Press posted an audio of the clip online.
The thesis that Mitt Romney just isn't especially good at his job is bolstered by new evidence all the time. Yesterday was supposed to be an easy one for the former Massachusetts governor -- show up in Florida; visit with NASCAR fans; pretend to be a regular person.
But as we've seen repeatedly in recent months, Romney has a blind spot when it comes to wealth. Does he follow car racing? No, but he's tight with the millionaires who own the teams. The line came just two days after Romney boasted about his wife driving "a couple of Cadillacs."
Indeed, a theme emerges when we consider what connects so many of Romney's tone-deaf verbal missteps, including his recent explanation that he's "not concerned about the very poor," which came on the heels of Romney insisting that making over $374,000 in speaking fees in a year is "not very much" money. It followed Romney suggesting elected office is only for the rich, clumsily talking about his fondness for being able to fire people, demanding that talk of economic justice be limited to "quiet rooms," accusing those who care about income inequality of "envy," daring Rick Perry to accept a $10,000 bet, joking about being "unemployed," arguing that those who slip into poverty are still middle class, and suggesting that Americans should somehow feel sorry for poor banks.
There was also that "corporations are people, my friend" classic.
What do all of these lines have in common? When it comes to his wealth, Romney is a clumsy rich guy who hasn't learned how to talk about these issues in public.
Update: In case it seemed as if Romney's NASCAR visit wasn't awkward enough, this was pretty remarkable, too: "[T]he crowd initially booed Mr. Romney, who occasionally struck a discordant note, as when he approached a group of fans wearing plastic ponchos. 'I like those fancy raincoats you bought,' he said. 'Really sprung for the big bucks.'"