Thanks to the array of options to watch TV online, I don't bother paying for cable at my home in DC. But I've been able to reacquaint myself with the hyperbole of cable news as I've been on the road reporting. This morning I learned of Mitt Romney's "breaking news" flub from MSNBC. At a morning stop in New Hampshire, Romney said, "I like being able to fire people who provide services to me." With increased attention being paid to Mitt Romney's time buying and selling companies, now might not be the best moment to revel in handing out pink slips.
Hours later, Jon Hunstman has already incorporated the line into his attacks on Romney and the DNC was quick to push out this video clip:
Politicians always disavow these kinds of quotes as being taken out of context by the media, and this is the rare instance where that's a proper defense. Here's the full quote from Romney discussing health insurance:
I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also means that if you don’t like what they do, you could fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone isn’t giving the good service, I want to say, I’m going to go get someone else to provide this service to.
It's a relatively benign quote with the full context. Romney was clearly talking about his personal consumer choices, not his actions as the head of a company who has control over people's livelihoods. It would certainly be disingenuous if the Obama campaign splices it into an ad later this fall. Then again, it would be handing Romney a dose of his own medicine after his campaign blatantly twisted Obama's words in an ad two months ago. Romney's spokesperson defended the lies in the ad after intense media pushback, claiming, "The White House doesn’t want to talk about the economy and continues to attempt to distract voters from President Obama’s abysmal economic record." It won't be too hard for the Obama campaign to counter that Romney doesn't want to talk about the unemployed and continues to distract voters from his record of laying off employees.
Snippets from Romney's recent events have revealed the extent to which he is out of touch with the normal economy. At the debate Sunday morning, he relayed his father's advice that no one should enter politics if they are not already wealthy, and was gleeful that his 1994 campaign forced Ted Kennedy to take out a second mortgage—a problem many in this country can relate to after the housing market bottomed out.
Yesterday, Romney tried his hand at relating to the unemployed. "I know what it’s like to worry whether you’re gonna get fired,” he said. “There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip.’’ Romney didn't detail any specific instance, but considering his wealthy background (his father was once the CEO for one of the country's major auto manufacturers) it's hard to imagine that the younger Romney ever experienced real fear of not making ends meet.