Bryan Fischer
Mitt and the very poor: a gaffe or a self-revelation?
By Bryan Fischer
February 3, 2012

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Mitt Romney's gaffe — "I am not concerned about the very poor" — has taken on a life of its own. Google "Mitt Romney, the very poor" and you will get 368,000,000 results already.

Mitt has been rightly criticized for having a tin ear in this case, but the comment may reveal something more fundamental about him: as hard as he tries, he does not understand conservatism. This is not how someone who has conservatism in his DNA speaks.

Mitt seemed, as he often does, to be speaking from his head and not his heart. This is why at times he comes across as wooden and stiff. What he says seems to flow from focus groups and consultants rather than from inner passion. He's trying to sound conservative because he knows he has to sound conservative to have any chance at the GOP nomination, but it sounds forced and canned.

Mitt has unfortunately lapsed here into class warfare rhetoric — the very poor, the very rich, and the rest — but conservatives do not think this way. We do not think in terms of classes and races. We think only of individuals created in the image of God with the enormous potential to care for themselves and use their God-given talents to help not only themselves but others.

Mitt, on the other hand, apparently just wants to go about patching holes in the "safety net." But conservatives realize that people can get caught in nets and die. You can ask a tuna about that.

Conservatives don't just want to patch up government-run safety nets. What we want for the poor is a society that gives them maximum opportunity to climb out of government-run safety nets and stand proudly on their own, dependent on God, their own hard work, their families, their friends and their faith communities rather than dignity-draining government handouts.

This is what Newt articulates so well and so forcefully when he says he wants to be not the food stamp president but the paycheck president, and wants to see every American child learn the value of a good work ethic and the value of self-discipline as early in life as possible.

Whether this gaffe — really, more a moment of self-revelation than a slip of the tongue — hurts Mitt and how profoundly it does so remains to be seen. Another debate could take the focus off this malapropism, but, alas for Mitt, there isn't another one of those for three weeks.

Newt has problems of his own, with a rather severe gender gap opening up for him in the electorate. So he's got holes of his own to patch. Whether all this will finally prompt people to take a hard, first-time look at Rick Santorum is another question. But maybe they should.

(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)

© Bryan Fischer


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