Here’s Mitt Romney recalling his austerity years as a Mormon missionary in France–all two and a half of them:
“You’re not living high on the hog at that level,” he said. “A number of the apartments that I lived in when I was there didn’t have toilets – we had instead the little pads on the ground – OK, you know how that works, pull – there was a chain behind you with kind of a bucket, bucket affair. I had not experienced one of those in the United States.”
Romney said he and his fellow missionaries showered once a week at a facility where you could pay a few francs to bathe – “Or if we were got lucky, we actually bought a hose and would hold it there on the sink … and wash ourselves that way.”
If this is Romney’s idea of damage control for his $10,000-bet gaffe, then he’s playing a losing game. There’s little he can say to convince the public he has personally experienced financial struggle. And talking about how broke he was during his two or three years in France as a teenager only makes him seem more out-of-touch.
So instead of trying to pretend he’s not outrageously rich (and always has been), Romney would do better to laugh this one off and move on. As Moe Lane writes, via the Morning Jolt:
The reason why the $10,000 thing resonates — and will keep resonating — against Romney is that it fits the negative stereotype of him. If Team Romney wishes to neutralize it, I suggest that they do what Team Perry did last month and embrace the gaffe. Because that’s why Rick Perry is still in the race: of all the people laughing at him about the Third Thing, his was the loudest.
Unlike the left, Republicans don’t hate rich people. They also admire passion and work ethic. If Romney had simply spent his life sponging off of his family’s money, then his $10,000 gaffe would be lethal. But nobody can deny he worked hard to build his own wealth. He should embrace that, not run from it.