The following is an edited transcript from the Question and Answer session in that infamous meeting with Republicans behind closed doors. You know, the one that mentioned the 47%. The transcript was compiled and published in The New York Post. If you have the patience for it all (it goes nine pages followed by four pages of journalist comments which don’t add that much) you should read it through. If you have any doubts whether Mitt Romney has what it takes to be a great president, this will put those doubts to rest.
Here is just a sample. He is responding to those who believe that winning ought to be a simple matter of going for the jugular. Romney has a different view. From his reply you can better understand the direction the campaign has taken and why.
Man in audience: . . . I wanna see you take the gloves off and talk to people that actually read the paper, that read the book and care about knowing the facts and — knowledge is power. As opposed to people that are swayed by, you know, what sounds good at the moment. You know, I — if you turned into a — like eager to kill, it would be a landslide, in my humble opinion.
Romney: Well, I wrote a book that lays out my view for what has to happen in the country and people who are fascinated by policy will read the book. We have a website that lays out white papers on a whole series of issues that I care about.
I have to tell you, I don’t think this will have a significant impact on my electability. I wish it– I wish it did, but I think our ads will have a much bigger impact and the debates will have a big impact.
. . . My dad used to say, “Being right early is not good in politics.” And . . . discussion of a whole series of important topics typically doesn’t win elections. And there are– for instance, this president won because of “hope and change.”
. . . I can say this, which — and I’m sure you’ll agree with this as well — we speak with voters across the country about their perceptions. Those people I told you, the 5%, to 6% or 7% that we have to sort of bring on our side? They all voted for Barack Obama four years ago.
So — and, by the way, when you ) when you say to them, “Do you think Barack Obama is a failure?” they overwhelmingly say, “No.” They like him. But when you say, “Are you disappointed that his policies haven’t worked?” they say, “Yes.” And because they voted for him they don’t wanna be told that they were wrong. That he’s a bad guy. That he did bad things. That he’s corrupt.
Those people that we have to get, they want to believe they did the right thing but he just wasn’t up to the task. They love the phrase that he’s over his head.
. . . But, you see, you and I, we spend our day with Republicans. We spend our days with people who agree with us. And these people are people who voted for him and don’t agree with us.
An so the things that animate us are not the things that animate them. And the best success I have in speaking with those people is saying, you know, “The president’s been a disappointment. He told you he’d keep unemployment below 8%. Hasn’t been below 8% since. 50% of kids coming out of school can’t get a job. 50%. 50% of the kids in high school in our 50 largest cities won’t graduate from high school. What are they gonna do?”
And the — these are the kinds of things that I can say to that audience that — that they nod they head and say, “Yeah, I think you’re right.”
What he’s gonna do, by the way, is try and vilify me as someone who’s been successful. Or who’s, you know, closed businesses or laid people off and this is an evil bad guy. And that may work. I actually think that right now people are saying, “I want someone who can make things better. That’s what — that’s gonna motivate me. Who can get jobs for my kids and get rising incomes.” And I hope to be able to be the one that wins that battle.