RIGHT NOW, ROMNEY CAN'T WIN FOR LOSING
I missed most of last night's debate, but I just watched the full-six minute clip of the candidates being asked about releasing their tax returns. Number of time Mitt Romney gets a round of applause? Six. Number of times he's booed? Once, briefly, and by only a few people.
Headline? "Republican Debate Audience Boos Mitt Romney Over Releasing Tax Returns."
Don't misjudge what's going on from the headline. These voters don't have any problem whatsoever with his wealth, or however he made it -- they just want to nominate they believe will kick ass mercilessly in November.
Watch the clip. Romney gets a bit of applause around 1:46 when he attacks Obama for playing golf. Bizarrely, he gets another round of applause starting at 2:50 when he says, "I obviously pay all full taxes. I'm honest in my dealings with people. People understand that." (Really? That's an applause line to Republicans?) One or two people actually clap when, in response to being asked whether he'll release tax returns for multiple years, he says, "Maybe" (4:34) -- though the boos and catcalls start a few seconds later. But then he gets a big round of applause (5:01) when he says, "I know the Democrats want to go after the fact that I've been successful. I'm not going to apologize for being successful." And then there's another round of applause (5:31) when he says, "What I have, I earned." And another one starts just as the clip ends (5:52), when he says -- well, this is from the transcript:
And I'm going to be able -- I'm going to be able to talk to President Obama in a way no one else can that's in this race right now, about how the free economy works, what it takes to put Americans back to work, and make sure he understands that this divisiveness and dividing Americans between 99 and 1 is dangerous. We are one nation under God. (Cheers, applause.)
Republicans have no problem whatsoever with Romney being a rich guy who pays low taxes and denies that we have a society with two sets of economic rules. They even like his ability to mythologize and romanticize capitalism (and himself as a capitalist). But they want a guy they feel certain is going to be able to grind Barack Obama into the dust. They fear Romney could be vulnerable -- vulnerable to the hated Obama -- and they want reassurance that he isn't. That's it.