Once again, Mitt Romney is on the defensive over his wealth on Wednesday after telling a CNN reporter that “I’m not concerned about the very poor, we have a safety net there.” And once again, pundits on the right are smacking their foreheads in amazement the usually controlled candidate can’t stop handing Democrats’ more “rich guy” gaffes.
“Facepalm,” Michelle Malkin wrote of the incident, which she said “could easily have been a Saturday Night Live parody”
Over at the National Review, Jonah Goldberg said the quote raised concerns that Romney is “simply not a good enough politician” to beat Obama.
“There are plenty of things one could say to defend Romney on the merits of what he says here,” he wrote. “But great politicians on the morning after a big win, don’t force their supporters to go around defending the candidate from the charge that he doesn’t care about the poor. They just don’t.”
“Romney’s ‘I’m not concerned with the very poor’ line may be the most idiotic thing a politician has ever said,” The Weekly Standard’s John McCormack tweeted.
RedState, whose bloggers have traditionally not been Romney fans, added their voices to the pile. According to co-founder Erick Erickson, Romney “played straight into the liberal caricature that Republicans don’t have hearts.” He added that “The issue here is not that Romney is right or wrong, but that he is handing choice sound bites to the Democrats to make him as unlikeable as he made Newt Gingrich.”
Still others were upset with Romney’s apparently sanguine take on the current state of entitlement spending on the poor.
“The subtext of Romney’s comment is actually worse - that the safety net is the only answer the poor need,” conservative blogger Ben Domenech tweeted.
As Romney moves closer the nomination, there’s increasing anxiety on the right that Democrats have found his weak spot by trying to brand him as a callous “Gordon Gekko,” fears that are further stoked by Romney’s cratering favorability ratings with independents. Could this be Newt’s opening to keep up his assault on Romney’s Bain Capital days and his tax returns?
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.