Andy Kroll

Andy Kroll

Senior Reporter

Andy Kroll is Mother Jones' Dark Money reporter. He is based in the DC bureau. His work has also appeared at the Wall Street Journal, the Detroit News, the Guardian, the American Prospect, and, where he's an associate editor. Email him at akroll (at) motherjones (dot) com. He tweets at @AndrewKroll.

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Mitt Romney: "I Like Being Able to Fire People Who Provide Services to Me"

| Mon Jan. 9, 2012 11:49 AM EST
Mitt Romney.

As he faces attacks from all sides for his years at private equity firm Bain Capital, Mitt Romney might regret a line he uttered in Nashua on Monday morning.

The day before New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary, Romney, the front-runner, spoke for nearly 45 minutes at a breakfast discussion organized by the local chamber of commerce and attended by local businessmen, businesswomen, and journalists. Afterward, he took questions from the audience, including one on how he would fix America's health-care system as president after repealing President Obama's Affordable Care Act. Here's Romney's full reply (emphasis mine):

"I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also mean 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 get someone else to provide this service too.'"

Now, Romney's "I like being able to fire people" comment needs to be placed in the context of his response to the local businessman's question. Still, it's exactly the kind of soundbite to end up in a Democratic attack ad in three or four months if Romney wins the GOP presidential nomination.

The quote couldn't come at a worse time for Romney, whose opponents are ramping up their attacks on his work at Bain Capital. A pro-Newt Gingrich super-PAC, Winning Our Future, has created a 27-minute video purports to highlight the "corporate raider" nature of Bain's business model. The super-PAC told the New York Times it will spend $3.4 million on ads in South Carolina, the site of the next primary. Some of that money will surely be spent on ads attacking Romney and his business record. (Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson recently cut a $5 million check to Winning Our Future, so the group can afford a big ad buy.)

The full context makes Romney's "fire people" quote seem less controversial. But that won't stop Republicans, Democrats, and political front groups from making use of it. Thirty-second political ads aren't known for their ability to put quotes in their proper context.

Jon Huntsman: We Need a "Grateful Dead Tour" to Save America

| Sun Jan. 8, 2012 3:09 PM EST

Jon Huntsman is known almost as much for his frequent popular culture references—Nirvana, Wayne's World, Led Zeppelin—as he is for his policy prescriptions. On Sunday afternoon in Hampstead, clad in a brown leather bomber jacket and cowboy boots, Huntsman (who once played keyboards in a prog rock band called Wizard) outdid himself once again in the band name-dropping department.

At 1:35 p.m., Huntsman climbed atop a table in the BeanTowne coffee shop and greeted the throngs of supporters and reporters who'd flock to see him speak. Huntsman launched into his familiar American revival speech, but then veered into hippie territory, saying that what the US needs is a candidate "who's going to lead a Grateful Dead tour of this country" to make it a better place for the next generation of Americans. Here's his full quote:

The next generation deserves trust in government. We have no trust left. The next generation deserves a Congress with term limits. We need a candidate who's going to lead a Grateful Dead tour of this country, who rallies the support of the American people in getting term limits and closing the revolving door of lobbyists.

But I need your help. It's all about the next generations folks.

Here's the audio:

Jon Huntsman"s "Grateful Dead" Revival Tour (mp3)

A Grateful Dead tour to restore America? The quip earned plenty of laughs from the crowd, not to mention a few quizzical, "Did he just say that?" looks. This latest nugget of culture comes as Huntsman ticks upward in polling here in New Hampshire. A new American Research Group poll released Saturday shows Huntsman in second place with 17 percent, trailing Mitt Romney who has a commanding lead with 40 percent. Huntsman also made a strong showing at Sunday morning's NBC News/Facebook debate; the Daily Beast called it Huntsman's finest debate appearance so far in the campaign. But the question is: Are pop culture references and strong debate performances enough to solidify Huntsman's support in time for Tuesday's primary?

Romney Flip-Flops on Blaming Obama for Jobs Crisis

| Sun Jan. 8, 2012 11:44 AM EST
Mitt Romney.

Add another entry to the long-running list of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's flip-flops. At Sunday's NBC/Facebook debate in Concord, Romney took a question about the nation's woeful labor market and his criticism of President Obama's economic plan. Romney tempered his attacks on Obama by noting, "I don't blame him for the recession and the jobs crisis."

But in his campaign's 87-page economic plan, Romney does just that. If you look closely at Romney's depiction of the Great Recession and ensuing, lingering jobs crisis, he blames Obama for the nation's jobs crisis. Released in September 2011, Romney's plan highlights a period from 2007 to 2009, showing how during this period 8.7 million jobs were lost in the Great Recession and another 800,000 were shed in the immediate aftermath of the recession. Amazingly, Romney's economic plan calls this period the "Obama Recovery." Here's the graph to prove it:

Mitt Romney campaign.Mitt Romney campaign.

It's chart fraud at its finest. The years 2007 and 2008, of course, were the final two of the Bush administration. The jobs crisis was at its worst during those years, including a staggering 2.6 million jobs lost in 2008. And those years have nothing to do with the "Obama recovery."

Nor was this Romney's only misrepresentation of Obama's jobs record. As Tim Murphy noted, Romney falsely claimed he created more jobs as governor of Massachusetts in the 2000s than Obama has as president. In reality, Romney used the same bogus math to make this claim as he did when blaming the the nation's unemployment woes on Obama.

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