"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what ... who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims. ... These are people who pay no income tax. ... and so my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives," Romney said.
The uproar was immediate and intense. Pundits, critics and supporters alike speculated that it might cost him the election. There's no way to tell how much of an impact it had, but we know now how it turned out.
Long before Romney's fate was sealed though, the former Massachusetts governor found an unlikely defender in Steve Almond. In his Sept. 21, 2012, piece "We Are All Mitt Romney," Almond writes that though he finds the content of Romney's spiel "totally despicable":
... there’s been something especially unsettling about watching this latest flap unfold. And it’s this: All of us who are sitting in judgment of Romney have behaved exactly like him in our own lives ... this is just what people do. We present one version of ourselves in public — kind, reasonable, sensitive — and another in private. Away from the scrutiny of those who might judge us, we feel liberated to ditch the politesse.
Almond says whether you agree with him or not, there was little doubt you were seeing "the real Mitt Romney":
He wasn’t awkwardly trying to play a man of the people, or singing off-key, or making baffling jokes about the height of trees. He was telling a bunch of people he trusted what he really believes. Isn’t that what all our candidates should be doing?
We asked Almond for an update, now that the election is behind us and the public has had plenty of time to fill the comments thread with reaction to his piece:
I learned long ago that the comments section of any article is the place to go for good old American idiocy. Still, it was something of a shock that so many people missed the point of the article. One guy even called it a "shill piece" for Romney. Wow. I guess he skipped the part where I called Romney’s 47 percent comments "totally despicable and unsurprising." It was, after all, all the way down in the second paragraph. Anyway, the piece was not an endorsement of Mitt Romney. It was an endorsement of candor. Yeah for candor!
-- S.A. 12/10/12
Some readers did not appreciate the suggestion that they in any way resembled Gov. Romney:
Edith: We are not all Mitt Romney and to assert that we are requires a stretch of the imagination. When most people get together with their friends to 'say what we really think' it makes no difference. Most of us have no power.
Pointpanic: ...not only was Romney not factually accurate but he was also condescending to the people he professes to want to serve.
You can read the original piece here.
This program aired on December 21, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.