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Mitt Romney and the 50.1%

Mitt Romney welcomed Donald Trump’s endorsement, saying: “I don’t agree with all the people who support me and my guess is they don’t all agree with everything I believe in. But I need to get 50.1% or more.” EPA/Michael Nelson

Mitt Romney has a percentage problem. And it’s not the 47%.

Well, it’s not only the 47%. Responding to those now-infamous fundraiser comments, Romney trotted out another percent that reveals much more about his worldview, and his campaign problems: 50.1%.

“I want to get 50.1% or more,” he told a Fox News interviewer the day after the tape was released.

It’s a number he’s used before. When defending his alliance with Donald Trump, whose obsession with President Obama’s birth certificate shows little sign of waning, Romney explained: “You know, I don’t agree with all the people who support me and my guess is they don’t all agree with everything I believe in. But I need to get 50.1% or more and I’m appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.”

That problem with the 50.1%? First, it makes Romney sound like he’s angling to be a majority stakeholder in America, rather than its president. If he can just capture a controlling share, he can do whatever he likes. It gives lie to the notion that businessmen make good politicians. True, elected officials have to cobble together votes and factions in order to build a majority coalition. But to lead successfully, they have to express a vision that encompasses not only their supporters, but the entire nation.

And that’s the bigger problem with Romney’s 50.1% formulation. The Republican nominee has been criticised by the Right for “speaking conservatism as a second language.” The real barrier to his election, however, is that he speaks politics as a second language – one in which he has little fluency.

At its heart, talk of winning 50.1% is a conversation about strategy, not governing. Romney is far more comfortable discussing strategy than laying out policy visions (and details). Rather than outline how his presidency would help women, for instance, he talks about his need to woo women voters in order to win the election. Same with Latino voters. This would be fine were he a behind-the-scenes campaign manager. But he’s the candidate, which requires much more of him.

Ironically, Romney’s best strategy is to convince people he cares about voters more than he cares about their votes. Having watched him campaign for the past year, I’m not sure that’s a case he can make. But as the race draws to a close , it may be the only way he can win.

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7 Comments sorted by

  1. Dianna Arthur
    Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Environmentalist

    "That problem with the 50.1%? First, it makes Romney sound like he’s angling to be a majority stakeholder in America, rather than its president. If he can just capture a controlling share, he can do whatever he likes. It gives lie to the notion that businessmen make good politicians. True, elected officials have to cobble together votes and factions in order to build a majority coalition. But to lead successfully, they have to express a vision that encompasses not only their supporters, but the entire…

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  2. William Bruce

    Artist

    Romney is financially successful eeh? Doesn't he have Companies in Tax Havens?
    Ron Paul would walk in and really do some good for ALL if Media and Republican Party gave him a fair go .... don't think they ever will because he tells the truth about whats going on and the vested interests ruining America and beyond!
    (And look at Gillard et al over there obsequios & borrowing what we can't pay back....AND accepting US Military here when NOT needed...(and at what financial cost to Oz?)...ie not giving this money to our military).

    Ron Paul also wants the FED audited....Do some research on the FED & private money creation...and follow this money I say....

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  3. William Bruce

    Artist

    I've been thinking a bit more about this and I am thinking, "Conservative"??....What could be more radical than Bush et al and their DISASTROUS and oft ILLEGAL policies??? Is Romney one iota different??
    Obama has better rhetoric but what has he done?....Seems he walked in on the anti-war vote and started 4 more wars!

    Forget those faulty voting machines & "our" TOTALLY BIASED MEDIA which relentlessly and often criminally lies by omission and stupidity.....the big problem I see, is the US Constitution IS being completely "SHUNNED" because crooked Money boys are running the show now and both sides of politics VIA money & media.....
    We now we see "justifications" for Govt assassinations, kidnapping, torture and you name it...all this whilst, the job & general prospects in US are abysmal due to IMPORTS & IMF policies which are bad for almost everyone but money lenders, oil & MIC.

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    1. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to William Bruce

      Criticising Obama for lack of action is ignoring the above point well made about the power of the congress and senate....

      Obama had a majority for 60 days of his term...the first 60 days... after that he has been stonewalled and outright stopped by republicans abusing their parliamentary system to ensure nothing could be done.

      Then those same republicans claim Obama did nothing.

      It's a political stunt where they are betting that the majority of voters dont remember or dont care what actually happened. And that is a safe bet.

      I just wish Australia would stop following the US on this downward spiral to epic failure... there are better examples...Scandanavia, esp Iceland and Finland consistently come to mind....

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  4. Robert Tony Brklje
    Robert Tony Brklje is a Friend of The Conversation.

    retired

    The reality though is the President of the United States is cake, it's a celebrity focused lie.
    The power is largely imaginary and can readily be curtailed by the US Congress and Senate. In fact the US Presidency race is largely a big magician show, to take all focus away from the US Congress and Senate to ensure corporate controlled law makers are elected.
    The only real power the President has is the power of VETO to force a 75% requirement on the passage of any law ie. a stop gap in the event…

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    1. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Robert Tony Brklje

      Yes all too true....one forgets this. However the veto IS power.

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    2. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Robert Tony Brklje

      Also the privileged information and other things.....What about these "signing" directives?

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