The Emotional Power of the “47 Percent” Comments Explained

<a href="http://www.zumapress.com">Pete Marovich</a>/ZUMAPress

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Looks like Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” remarks—in which he said that supporters of the president didn’t pay income tax and felt “entitled” to such luxuries as food and health carewill not be fading into obscurity anytime soon. A recent Obama campaign ad capitalizes on the comments, which Romney made in a fundraiser caught on video and released two weeks ago by Mother Jones. Polls show that Americans aren’t fond of Romney’s sentiments. That has translated into a pretty stark shift in the Republican challenger’s election hopes.

Now, the Washington Post writes that Romney’s comments are “taking a toll” more than other gaffes he’s committed, like saying he likes “being able to fire people who provide services to me” or knows what it’s like to worry about getting a “pink slip,” or like the $10,000 wager he tried to make with Texas Gov. Rick Perry mid-debate:

In the two weeks since a surreptitious video of the remarks surfaced, they have pierced the national consciousness in a way that few blunders do. In the closing stretch of the presidential campaign, the moment has become a defining element of Romney’s candidacy.

Why the sticking power? Because it hits people on a personal level. Republican strategist Alex Castellanos told the Post, “You inform with reason, and you persuade with emotion. [Democrats have] made the rational case that Romney’s policies would hurt the middle class, and this is the emotional counterpart.”

Also, this was no gaffe in the usual sense. Democratic strategist Robert Shrum told the Post many voters have likely concluded: “Wow, that really is the real Romney.”

Of course, the number 47 is going to loom large in the debates. Romney’s apparently been rehearsing some “100 percent” lines. But really, it’s not the kind of comment you can wiggle out of. Said one Romney adviser to the Post: “Trying to explain it is not helpful.”

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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