One Message for Voters, Another for Donors

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has come under sharp attacks from his opponents on the left after a video leaked this week in which Romney said that 47 percent of Americans "believe that they are victims," and think that they are entitled to healthcare, food, and housing from the government.

The video was taken during a private fundraising event with Republican donors in May, and was leaked by Mother Jones. Some pundits have referred to the comments as a major gaffe for the candidate, though Romney said on Tuesday that he stood by his message. Either way, it seems the message for the donors is starkly different from the message delivered to the masses.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, says that the question is which message we should believe, and which we should see as most indicative of the candidate's actual beliefs and policies. 

"The question about these kinds of statements is, do they represent the candidate's actual attitudes, temperaments, and dispositions, or not? Are candidates simply pandering in this environment in order to gain money, or are they representing something that's real that will translate into governance?" 

There is a lot of cynicism in America about politics, and perhaps understandably so. When a candidate is delivering different messages to different audiences, it's difficult to know which message is closer to the truth. Jamieson says, "What we do know historically is that what candidates say in public, and say repeatedly, does tend to translate into governance." What we don't know, however, is whether these things said in private flesh out the ambiguities in their campaign message or not. It seems that only time will tell."


Kathleen Hall Jamieson

Produced by:

Arwa Gunja and Maggie Penman

Comments [5]

Workn4Alivin from Norwell, MA

I look to NPR for balanced news, and am disppointed that they have piiled on with the rest of the media markets in this analysis of Romney’s remarks. High school debaters know to mischaracterize the opponent’s arguments in order to attack the indefensible. I expect better from NPR.
Romney’s remarks were a candid political calculus: those people who pay no income taxes (47%) generally are not interested in lower income taxes as Romney has proposed. Thus this is a demographic slice where his message of lower taxes doesn’t resonate. He needs the support of those (in the room to whom he’s speaking).
Was this clumsy political action? Of course. Does the remark mean he doesn’t care about people who don’t pay income taxes? Of course not. His consistent and oft demonstrated message is that people prefer opportunity to dependency. Just because this taped gaffe has been gleefully mischaracterized by the media (the high school debating team), I wouldn’t have expected NPR to join in so enthusiastically.

Sep. 20 2012 12:41 PM
Angel from Miami, FL

Imagine what it must be like to be a member of our armed forces: you don't get much recognition from the president and your family's welfare back home is not the president's primary concern because of their tax bracket or income level. Imagine what that would do to your morale. That's a scenario ONLY possible if Mitt Romney becomes president.

Sep. 20 2012 09:33 AM
Edna Garte from Waterford, MI

People who think the cuts that Republicans are proposing - and putting into effect in states - only hurt 'them' (those they picture as taking advantage of everyone) will be in for a sad surprise if the Republicans win the Presidency and/or keep control of Congress. Cuts to program don't differentiate between deserving and undeserving. They affect everyone who is vulnerable.

Sep. 19 2012 12:23 PM
Beyond-The-Political-Spectrum.blogspot from Michigan

Identifying 47% of the potential voting electorate as "not being someone he cares about?" What a way to unite the country!

Sep. 19 2012 10:00 AM
BK from Hoboken NJ

About two-thirds of that 47% pay no federal income tax because they use tax breaks such as mortgage tax deductions, child dependent tax deductions, etc to zero out their bill. For those commenters and Republicans who complain about this, I will ask that them to do the same as they ask rich guys like Warren Buffett: walk the walk yourself and stop taking those deductions. Republicans always say Buffett should send more money in if he doesn't believe the current tax rates are appropriate. If they feel that mortgage tax deductions, charitable deductions, deductions for property, local, and state income taxes are a problem, then they should walk the walk and refuse those deductions themselves.

Sep. 19 2012 09:26 AM

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