Mitt Romney made what may be the biggest political misstep of his campaign, in a speech given during a private fundraiser for wealthy donors. In a hidden video released this week by Mother Jones Magazine, the former Massachusetts governor stated that the 47% of people in this country who do not pay Federal income taxes were mooching off of government and would never support him. The video is from a May campaign event, a $50,000 a plate fundraiser held by investment banker Marc Leder in Boca Raton, Florida.
Calling nearly half the electorate freeloaders is hardly the way to make friends and influence voters, and the campaign quickly moved to clarify Romney’s remarks, stating that he sides with 100% of the people. This blunder earns Mitt Romney our political loser of the week mention for this column.
Speaking of taxes, the Republican candidate for president finally caved into public pressure and released his 2011 income tax return. These forms revealed that Mitt Romney paid around 14% of his gross income in Federal taxes. Of the $13.7 million dollars that the candidate made last year, he paid roughly $1.95 million dollars in Federal income tax. Although lower than the percentage amount that is paid by people who make a lot less money, it is still higher than many liberal pundits were estimating, including Harry Reid (D-NV), who stated that he had heard that Romney had paid no taxes at all in over a decade. This was probably a net political wash for Romney, since he does finally get to put that issue behind his campaign. With just two weeks left until the first of three presidential debates, the Republican campaign was wise to release this before it became a major talking point during the first debate, currently scheduled for October 3rd at the University of Denver.
All in all, it may be time for Mitt Romney to rework his campaign staff, which to this point has appeared to be lumbering at times. This last gaffe with his 47% comment has led some politicos to hail his campaign as essentially over, declaring Obama to be the eventual winner of November’s election.
The Chicago Teachers Union is certainly a winner this week, as their week-long strike ended when the union came to a compromise agreement with that city on their new contract. The teachers received a 17% increase in pay over their current average annual salary of $76,000. The teachers also agreed to increase the length of the school day to seven hours, and to accept student test scores as 30% of their personnel evaluations. The real winner here, of course, are the 350,000 Chicago students who will now be able to go back to school once the teachers return to their classrooms.