There he goes again. Mitt Romney was recently caught on tape, this time explaining to donors his version of why he lost the election. He said his defeat was due to “gifts” that President Obama promised to Latinos, African-Americans, and young voters. “In each case, they (the Obama campaign) were very generous in what they gave to these groups,” he said. According to Romney, Hispanics supported Obama because they were attracted by “free health care… in perpetuity” and “amnesty for children of illegals.”
While there is a way to accept defeat gracefully, this is not it. Romney’s remarks bespeak a startling disrespect for voters. Rather than take responsibility for his loss, he is making false statements and using divisive language. Enough already. It’s time the GOP devises a path forward without him.
Romney said that minority voters supported the president because he offered “extraordinary financial gifts from the government.” The reality is that President Obama was re-elected because he offered policies that appealed to a broad coalition of voters. By suggesting that the election was a competition for freebies, Romney plays to stereotypes of minority voters wanting handouts. Nothing could be further from the truth; polling by Latino Decisions shows that Hispanics were engaged on issues ranging from immigration to education. Romney’s own campaign could be seen as full of “gifts” to corporations and the wealthy, including tax breaks and fewer government regulations.
Romney’s comments were as inaccurate as they were insulting. ‘Obamacare’ will not be free (participants will pay for coverage, based on their income level), nor did the president offer anyone “amnesty.” And if Romney blames his loss on minority voters, how does he explain the results in New Hampshire and Iowa? These are states with an overwhelmingly older, white electorate, and yet Obama still won them.
No wonder Republicans quickly distanced themselves from Romney’s remarks. One Latino conservative leader said they were a “slap in the face.” New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez said, “That is unfortunately what sets us back as a party, our comments that are not thought through carefully.” GOP strategist Ana Navarro called Romney out on Twitter, saying, “Hispanics don’t want gifts, we want opportunity.” All these conservatives have the right idea.
It is unfortunate that Romney has such a dismissive attitude towards those who did not vote for him. Even after the furor over his 47 percent comments, he apparently still believes that certain Americans only want “free stuff.” How sad that a man whose father was on welfare for a year cannot summon empathy and compassion for the less fortunate. Romney’s “gifts” comments make him seem petty, elitist, and small.
Now Romney risks damaging his party by remaining in the public eye. The Washington Post reports that prominent Republicans are hoping he will go away. Romney should acknowledge the obvious; when people in your own party want you to go, it is time to go.
As long as Romney remains on the national stage, Republicans will be linked to his cynical campaign and innumerable gaffes. Meanwhile, the GOP has serious challenges ahead of them. They have yet to come to terms with an increasingly diverse America, and they lack a social agenda appropriate for the 21st century. The smartest thing the GOP can do is cut their ties with Romney, so that they can begin devising more inclusive, more viable policies.
Romney’s “gifts” comments are sour grapes from a sore loser. Instead of blaming voters for his defeat, he should review his own failings. His party needs to communicate the hard truth to him: Mitt, your time has passed. Thank you, and adios.
Raul A. Reyes is an attorney and member of the USA Today Board of Contributors.