Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

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Tim Murphy is a reporter in MoJo's DC bureau. Last summer he logged 22,000 miles while blogging about his cross-country road trip for Mother Jones. His writing has been featured in Slate and the Washington Monthly. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy [at] motherjones [dot] com.

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Romney's Secret Tape Reveals Obama Is a Democrat

| Wed Sep. 19, 2012 6:00 AM EDT

It took 24 hours, but Mitt Romney thinks he's found his way out of the massive hole he's dug himself. The GOP nominee appeared frazzled at a hastily scheduled, late-night press conference on Monday as he attempted to defend comments he'd made at a fundraiser disparaging 47 percent of Americans. So on Tuesday, Romney appeared on Fox News to try something new: A tape of his own. Romney told Neil Cavuto that the real scandalous recording released this week was a 1998 audio clip of then-Illinois state Senator Barack Obama explicitly endorsing the idea of using government to redistribute wealth. Here's what Obama said:

And my suggestion, I guess, would be that the trick—and this is one of the few areas where I think there are technical issues that have to be dealt with as opposed to just political issues—I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution. Because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level, to make sure everybody's got a shot.

Here's why Romney' argument is a dud: Everyone already knows this about President Obama. Conservatives have been saying the President is a redistributor since this time in 2008, when then-Sen. Obama told an Ohio plumber that his taxes policies would "spread the wealth." And he meant it. Obama has spent much of the last two years—and the presidential campaign—explaining why he believes affluent citizens should pay higher income taxes in order to help fund programs that often disproportionately benefit lower-income and middle-class cititizens. It's as if the Romney campaign had floated a 1998 video of Obama calling for an individual mandate for health insurance.

What makes the story even less compelling is that Republicans believe in redistributing wealth too. For instance, here's how the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities described Paul Ryan's 2011 budget:

[I]ts proposals would produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history, while increasing poverty and inequality more than any measure in recent times and possibly in the nation’s history.

Redistributing wealth is also the driving force behind Medicare, in which senior citizens, many of whom have stopped paying income taxes and have limited sources of income, benefit from a massive entitlement program funded by everyone else. Non-partisan budget analysis notwithstanding, Romney and Ryan have billed themselves as the defenders of Medicare when speaking to audiences of senior citizens.

The socialism is coming from inside the campaign!

The Obama audio is here:

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Scott Brown Latest GOPer to Turn on Mitt's "47 Percent" Line

| Tue Sep. 18, 2012 4:06 PM EDT
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.)

One of the first Democrats to knock Mitt Romney for his charge that 47 percent of Americans are "dependent" on the federal government was Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, who told the Washington Post's Greg Sargent, "Romney just wrote off half the people in Massachusetts and half the people in America as deadbeats." Now Warren's Republican opponent, Sen. Scott Brown, has followed suit. Here's the statement he sent to The Hill on Tuesday:

"That's not the way I view the world. As someone who grew up in tough circumstances, I know that being on public assistance is not a spot that anyone wants to be in. Too many people today who want to work are being forced into public assistance for lack of jobs."

Brown's not the only Republican to back away from the remarks of the party's presidential nominee. Former wrestling executive Linda McMahon, who is running for Senate in Connecticut, said in a statement Tuesday that "I disagree with Gov. Romney's insinuation that 47 percent of Americans believe they are victims who must depend on the government for their care."

What makes Brown comments particularly noteworthy, though, is that he and Romney are both being advised by the same guy—GOP strategist Eric Fehrnstrom. (This isn't the first time Fehrstrom's candidates have been put in an awkward situation.)

One candidate who's not running from Romney's statements: Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin. So that ought to help.

Obama Web Vid Hits Romney on "47 Percent" Remarks

| Tue Sep. 18, 2012 11:49 AM EDT

That was quick. On Monday, the Obama campaign condemned Mitt Romney's now-infamous "47 percent" speech and capped it off with a fundraising email. By Tuesday morning, the Obama team had turned it into a web video:

It's a classic of rapid-response at its most rapid—the video appears to have been filmed in Chicago's Millenium Park, literally across the street from Obama's national headquarters. And it could just be the beginning. The Washington Post reports that Obama advisers are considering turning the clip into a television ad.

Romney Reacts to 47 Percent Video, Stands By Remarks

| Mon Sep. 17, 2012 5:52 PM EDT

On Monday, my colleague David Corn published exclusive video of remarks Mitt Romney made at a closed-door fundraiser for big-money donors, in which the GOP presidential nominee declared that 47 percent of Americans—that is, those who support President Obama—are "dependent upon government" and "believe that they are victims." (And, according to Romney, Obama backers don't pay income taxes either.) Now, the Obama campaign is looking to turn those statements into a major campaign issue. Here's the statement from campaign manager Jim Messina that was emailed to reporters on Monday afternoon:

"It's shocking that a candidate for President of the United States would go behind closed doors and declare to a group of wealthy donors that half the American people view themselves as 'victims,' entitled to handouts, and are unwilling to take 'personal responsibility' for their lives. It's hard to serve as president for all Americans when you've disdainfully written off half the nation."

It was also blasted out to Obama's 19 million Twitter followers. For Romney, this may be only the beginning of his problems: more clips from this private fundraiser are coming soon.

Update: And here's the Romney campaign's statement, from spokeswoman Gail Gitcho:

Mitt Romney wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy. As the governor has made clear all year, he is concerned about the growing number of people who are dependent on the federal government, including the record number of people who are on food stamps, nearly one in six Americans in poverty, and the 23 million Americans who are struggling to find work. Mitt Romney’s plan creates 12 million new jobs in four years, grows the economy and moves Americans off of government dependency and into jobs.

Update II, 9/17, 10:23 p.m.: In a rare and hastily scheduled press conference in Orange County on Monday night, Romney stood by his remarks. "This is the same message I give to people," Romney said of his dig at the 47 percent. His only failing, he said, was in the delivery. "It's not elegantly stated, let me put it that way," Romney said. "I'm speaking off the cuff in response to a question and, I'm sure I can say it more clearly"

Romney added, "I hope the person who has the video would put out the full video."

Watch:

See the full remarks below:

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