Romney’s sad explanation for his defeat

You’ve probably heard by now that Mitt Romney’s explanation for his loss is that Pres. Obama spent his first term giving “free gifts” to various constituencies, especially ethnic minority groups and young voters, to buy their votes for a second term.

He made the comments yesterday in a conference call with his fund-raisers. One of the participants let New York Times reporter Ashley Parker listen in. Her full account is here.

I’m trying to sympathize with the pain Romney is experiencing, after eight years of seeking the presidency, to have come up short. But this explanation is pretty pitiful and full of holes.

Here’s a chunk of Parker’s story to give you the flavor of what Romney told his donors and is presumably telling himself:

“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” Mr. Romney said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”

The president’s health care plan, he said, was also a useful tool in mobilizing black and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers: 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics.

“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge,” Mr. Romney said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”

Even sadder, Romney seems to have convinced himself that he ran a brave, candid campaign “talking about big issues for the whole country: military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth.”

In my humble opinion, Romney actually ran a cynical, almost substanceless campaign, changing his positions to meet political needs and refusing to disclose specifics that would enable the most serious voters to assess his positions. The ultimate example, which took my breath away, was the magical tax plan that would lower everyone’s rates, then pay for itself with details that would be disclosed later.

I always assumed that Romney’s libertarian, least-government streak was phony, since he had been a moderate Republican fairly recently and his signature accomplishment as governor was the Massachusetts health plan on which Obamacare was modeled. Or maybe he has no convictions at all, where policy is concerned. But in the long segment excerpted above, he actually does seem to argue that anything the government might do to help the less-fortunate must be a cynical ploy to buy their future support.

Romney’s focus on Obamacare as the key to Obama’s efforts to buy reelection is particularly pitiful, not only because Romneycare was the model for it, but also because every Republican presidential candidate, from Michele Bachmann to Romney himself, made the urgency of repealing Obamacare a centerpiece of their campaigns to defeat Obama for reelection. Now it turns that the deviously clever, fabulously popular Obamacare was the key to his reelection. Pretty pitiful and full of holes.

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (19)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 11/15/2012 - 10:03 am.

    And that is why Scrooge was inflicted with the 3 ghosts.

    What is the purpose of government?

    To ensure the continued concentration of wealth and power, or to guard the welfare of all its citizenry?

    You get what you deserve or you deserve the maximal rights and opportunities available?

    Money does not measure worth or value.

  2. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/15/2012 - 10:04 am.

    Likeable enough.

    Romney wasn’t.
    What he hasn’t come to grips with is that he lost because people neither liked him not trusted him, and he gave them no reasons to vote for him despite that lack of personal connection. in other words, he offered nothing and got nothing in return.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/15/2012 - 10:45 am.

    Pitiful, indeed…

    In detail: The suggestion that the votes of college-age women, apparently mindless slaves to their unbridled lust, can be purchased, in effect, by providing free contraceptives is so amazingly offensive it largely defies description, especially after a succession of Republican politicians, from Akin to Mourdock to Kyle, have made it plain that, at least in their view, women’s sole value to the society is as breeders owned by their husbands and/or boyfriends.

    More broadly: Should we assume that, had Mr. Romney won the election, none of the wishes of his campaign contributors would have been made policy, or at least the attempt made? From the very first political campaign ever, candidates have made promises to portions of the electorate in an effort to gain their votes. Mr. Romney made plenty of promises. Sometimes, candidates have even delivered on those promises. Presumably, Mr. Romney would have made an effort to do so, just as his predecessors, had he been elected, have done. Is making good on a campaign promise a cynical ploy, or is it a case of the officeholder holding up their end of the political bargain?

    Romney’s litany qualifies as both sad and pathetic. Unable to admit that the opposition ran a better campaign, or – gasp – perhaps had one or two ideas that resonated with voters, he (and his Republican cohorts) have been reduced to whining.

  4. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/15/2012 - 10:45 am.

    To sum up

    Mitt Romney had a poorly-disguised contempt for most of the American people. All his self-reinvention couldn’t hide it: The “Real” Mitt Romeny thinks you’re a bunch of ungrateful moochers who won’t take responsibility for yourselves. He wanted to be President so badly that he was willing to contort his public persona in unimaginable ways.

    Remember the Mitt Romeny who wanted women to have free access to contraception? Who bragged about making college accessible to every student in Massachusetts? Who complained about the cost to families of Obamacare? They were all frauds, it seems. Mitt Romney just doesn’t approve of your ilk.

  5. Submitted by Nathan Roisen on 11/15/2012 - 11:07 am.

    Nowhere to go

    The Republicans have built their philosophy on ideological beliefs, rather than demonstrable facts. Their response to this election, including Romney’s comments here, demonstrate the inflexibility of these beliefs when met with reality.

    The part of me that has voted Democratic in the last few elections has to chuckle. Go ahead fellas, keep believing that government is always the problem, that lower taxes create more tax revenue, that you can cut taxes and reduce the deficit, that the Affordable Care Act was a massive giveaway and not a badly needed reform of a broken system, that less regulation frees business to create jobs, that climate change is a fraud perpetuated by liberal scientists, that Planned Parenthood is nothing but an abortion factory, that gay people will simply go away if we limit their rights enough, that all America needs is a return to some vaguely defined golden age from 1950-1964 – as though that era was without problems of its own.

    The part of me that thinks a reasonable opposition is a good thing for government and society is very worried. The lack of actual introspection from leading Republicans with respect to their loss in the election is alarming. Instead we get excuses (Obama gave too much away, takers outnumber the makers) or superficial hope in people like Marco Rubio’s ability to capture the Hispanic vote. Not a good sign.

  6. Submitted by Tim Walker on 11/15/2012 - 11:13 am.

    Wait a minute …

    Do you mean to tell me that a U.S. President used his presidential powers to improve the lives of millions of Americans?

    Oh, the horror!

  7. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 11/15/2012 - 11:25 am.

    This fits in quite nicely with his 47% comments.

    First he said it about the 47%, then he said he was taken out of context, then he said it was “inelegant”, and then he denied the thrust of the comments, and now he brings the idea back with this new statement.

    In context, elegant, unmistakeable.

    Not really a man of the people, is he?

  8. Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 11/15/2012 - 11:34 am.

    Most honest statement yet

    We saw Romney twisting himself into a pretzel to win the nomination. We saw him pandering for $s from wealthy donors.

    But his comments after the election have to be taken as an honest reflection of his views. Sad. He could have gone out with some class.

  9. Submitted by Rich Crose on 11/15/2012 - 11:57 am.

    Why Bother with the 47%?

    Romney only had to give gifts to 400 people (.01% of the richest 1%) to get a billion dollars worth of campaign contributions. Unfortunately, 400 people isn’t enough to win an election.

  10. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/15/2012 - 12:19 pm.

    Norquist was right.

    Romney really is a poopy head.

  11. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 11/15/2012 - 12:36 pm.

    Eric,I am amazed at your

    I am amazed at your cynicism towards Romney, but not surprised!
    Your lack of equal candor toward the President’s “ideas and proposals” is typical.

    Could you please fill me in on Obama’s plan to save Social Security? Also, the Obama plan to save Medicare? Please rehearse to me the Obama plan to “cut the deficit in half” and “get unemployment below 7%?”

    Do you really believe that Obama ran a serious campaign concerning the “cuts” that need to be made?

    As a self described “deficit hawk,” I would hope you would be concerned about the “bankruptcy of ideas” from the Obama campaign. Where are the big ideas, the bold approaches to deal with are countries financial problems? Is “Investing” more in the education, health care, and the environment, (the standard Democrat special interest groups) sufficient for you?
    Romney is right! Obama bought the election by saying – you can have what you desire – and the other guy will pay for it.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 11/15/2012 - 04:33 pm.

      …and the other guy will pay for it…

      Who pays for defaults on federally subsidized student loans?

      Who pays for the costs of parents that have kids too early without sufficient resources?

      Who pays for the costs of the uninsured?

      Who pays for the costs of people forced to live in the underworld economy?

      Oddly enough, it is already the tax payers. It’s just paid for in back-door, convoluted, just-clean-up-the-mess manner that end up being more expensive than just addressing the problems directly.

      I would think that every conservative would applaud a rational approach to minimizing the costs of these problems.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 11/15/2012 - 05:31 pm.

      Read That Again

      Ron, the article is about Romney’s reaction to his campaign and loss. It says nothing about Obama and how he ran his campaign.

      Criticizing one side does not necessarily equate to complete or uncritical support of the other side.

  12. Submitted by Tim Milner on 11/15/2012 - 12:44 pm.


    was a reasonable candidate who would have won in a heart beat if he did not have to pander the Tea Party fringe of the Republican party that dominates the nomination process. He choose to appease them by modifying his position to win the nomination. Unfortunately, that gave him a platform which made winning much more difficult. Even with that, he still received 48% of the vote.

    This needs to be remembered as Obama seems to believe he has a “mandate” to make structural changes. Be careful. For the 48% that did not vote for you is still a rather powerful force.

  13. Submitted by James Hamilton on 11/15/2012 - 12:54 pm.

    The light came on for me

    as I read this piece. Romney is and always has been a pragmatist, prepared to do or say whatever is necessary to address a problem. Hence, RomneyCare for the people of Massachusetts and his adaptability over the years. Most recently, the challenges were to obtain the Republican nomination and then the presidency. The fact that the two required very different approaches was not a problem for a pragmatist. He simply did what he believed was necessary to get the job done.

    Some might wonder just how thick I might be to have only realized this today. In my defense, I knew the history but insisted on seeing it as a lack of character rather than his defining trait. It explains his entire life, from Bain to today.

  14. Submitted by Donald Larsson on 11/15/2012 - 03:09 pm.

    Consistent for Once

    Romney’s remarks here are completely consistent with his earlier comments about the “47%” of the electorate. This seems like confirmation of a core belief that eveyone is in the game just for the money and that those that have are the ones who deserve it. At least this political chameleon has settled on a color–green (and I don’t mean environmental)!

  15. Submitted by Joe Musich on 11/15/2012 - 08:04 pm.

    justification ?

    Isn’t he just cynically trying to justify all that wasted money to the people who “entrusted him” with their “hard earned” dollars. It has been laughable and it continues to be so.

  16. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 11/15/2012 - 09:51 pm.

    What’s really sad

    about Romney and this country is that he did as well as he did. I’m sure Romney got plenty of votes from the 47% of “takers” or moochers.

Leave a Reply