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article imageOp-Ed: Could Romney's 47% gaffe speak to the conservative base?

By Bill Lewis     Sep 25, 2012 in Politics
While the now infamous 47 percent gaffe made by Romney to donors behind closed doors certainly was damaging in the short run, it may not be the death blow Democrats hope it is.
Over the course of the last week many have claimed that the now infamous 47% remarks made by Romney to donors behind closed doors, and first reported on by Mother Jones, may be a fatal blow to his campaign. Before President Obama’s supporters break out the champagne, however, they may want to consider another side of the story. It is obvious that for many Americans the comments are offensive, however, for the extreme right of the Republican party – a base that Romney has had trouble exciting – it is exactly the message they want to hear.
Consider that the Republican Party as a whole has been campaigning on the idea that President Obama has created an “entitlement society” for some time as made clear by comments made by Rep. Allen West (R-FL) when speaking on Hannity in July, [Obama] does not want you to have the self- esteem of getting up and earning and having that title of American. He'd rather you be his slave and be economically dependent upon him. This indicates that Romney’s statements were not a new idea for the conservative movement, but instead Romney voicing a party line.
This would explain why Romney has yet to back away from the statement but instead has continued to push the message that President Obama is pushing for bigger government and entitlement programs while he is for creating jobs to get them out of poverty. Some might believe that this is just bad campaigning; however, I believe it is simply campaigning for a different part of his base.
Romney has had a lot of trouble convincing the far right conservative members of his party that he is a true conservative who they should support. Tea Party Republicans especially have been wary of Romney due to his moderate tendencies, however, if Judson Phillips of the Tea Party Nation whose only questions was "Why the hell was he only saying this in a private gathering? Why hasn’t this been on his stump speech?" is any indication this video could change that.
This demographic is not ever going to vote for President Obama, but they could simply not vote which would be just as bad for Romney. With this in mind and looking at polling numbers that show an extremely tight race with Romney having issues picking up other important groups like Latino voters – which many consider key to his winning many swing states – I believe he made a calculated decision to risk losing some moderates to ensure he secured his base by showing them that he is in fact a true conservative who shares their values.
This is extremely risky but could also be effective. As of the date of this writing there are only 41 days until the election but they are also the most action packed days of the election. With three debates and a slew of events between now and election day Romney could very well make undecided voters forget that they were upset by the video if he can convince them that he is in fact the better option for creating jobs. If Romney can do that while at the same time using surrogates to continue pushing the message of an “entitlement society” to his base then this leaked video changes from a gaffe to a wonderfully executed political play to solidify Romney’s conservative credentials. To be clear I am not insinuating that Romney chose to have this video leaked; only that it is too early to tell if it was as unlucky a break as many Democrats are hoping.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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