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

Mitt Romney.<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/wacphiladelphia/4558471727/">World Council of Philadelphia/Flickr

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


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.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.