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What Mitt Romney Got Wrong About the 47 Percent

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney boards his plane after a campaign stop in Salt Lake City.
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney boards his plane after a campaign stop in Salt Lake City. Photograph by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/GettyImages

Mitt Romney’s videotaped remark to wealthy supporters that 47 percent of Americans “believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name it” and that “my job is not to worry about” people who won’t “take personal responsibility and care for their lives” was pretty stunning any way you look at it.

It cements the impression of Romney as someone who cares only for the rich. It shows a contempt for others that had previously existed only in Democratic attack ads. It writes off half the nation. And it diminishes and undermines the substantial tradition of conservatives who do care about helping the less-fortunate. In this way, Romney’s self-revelation illuminates a troubling shift within the Republican Party that he has now come to embody.