My Blog Posts

My thoughtful perspectives on current events...

Exchange Between Mitt Romney and Soledad O’Brien on CNN 02/01/2012

This is a time people are worried. They're frightened. They want someone who they have confidence in. And I believe I will be able to instill that confidence in the American people. And, by the way, I'm in this race because I care about Americans. I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it.

I'm not concerned about the very rich, they're doing just fine. I'm concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling and I'll continue to take that message across the nation.

O'BRIEN: All right. So I know I said last question, but I've got to ask you. You just said I'm not concerned about the very poor because they have a safety net. And I think there are lots of very poor Americans who are struggling who would say that sounds odd. Can you explain that?

ROMNEY: Well, you had to finish the sentence, Soledad. I said I'm not concerned about the very poor that have the safety net, but if it has holes in it, I will repair them.

O'BRIEN: Got it. OK.

ROMNEY: The - the challenge right now - we will hear from the Democrat Party the plight of the poor, and - and there's no question, it's not good being poor and we have a safety net to help those that are very poor.

But my campaign is focused on middle income Americans. My campaign - you can choose where to focus. You can focus on the rich. That's not my focus. You can focus on the very poor. That's not my focus.

My focus is on middle income Americans, retirees living on social security, people who cannot find work, folks who have kids that are getting ready to go to college. That - these are the people who've been most badly hurt during the Obama years.

We have a very ample safety net, and we can talk about whether it needs to be strengthened or whether there are holes in it. But we have food stamps, we have Medicaid, we have housing vouchers, we have programs to help the poor. But the middle income Americans, they're the folks that are really struggling right now, and they need someone that can help get this economy going for them.

A day after winning the Florida Primary former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney did an interview with CNN’s Soledad O’Brian, where he put his foot directly into his mouth by stating his lack of concern for both the very poor and the very rich. Surprisingly, in putting his comments in a larger political context, they did not hurt him much during the campaign. Arguably, both the Democrat and Republican party, over the past few decades have moved further and further away from talking about poverty (the poor) and have shifted their attention to the Middle Class.

There are many African American Christian voters who are theologically and socially conservative, but have stayed away from the GOP almost exclusively because of the perception that the party is indifferent about the poor and poverty in general. The comments by the Governor validated that this perception was indeed a reality. His comments were in many respects the unstated position of most major political and social leaders in our country: the middle class should take precedence over the rich and poor. If a voter is of the belief that poverty is primarily (or exclusively) the government’s burden to bear, then there is no way that the voter can be pleased with either political party.

Most political and social leaders in our country whether Democrat, Republican, Tea Party or 99%/Occupy movement member are ultimately having an ideological debate about poverty and economics that will not translate into substantive policy that has a viable chance of being passed. Our government system, which is rooted in a balance of power, will reflect mainstream positions in which poverty is not included. Regardless of whether President Ronald Regan is advocating supply side/trickle-down economics or President Bill Clinton is advocating welfare reform and balanced budgets, both groups view governments’ role as passive, at best, in directly “attacking” poverty.

While neither party is ready to completely end many of the New Deal and Great Society programs; neither party has shown a commitment to expanding poverty programs, or increasing the government’s efforts to directly address poverty. So the question then shifts to: Is this a bad thing?

A truly effective and comprehensive plan to address poverty must begin with three fundamental questions:
  • What is the goal: to end poverty or to control it?
  • Whose responsibility is it to address poverty? And the big question…
  • How does one “effectively” address poverty?
I spend an entire chapter addressing these issues in my book Race, Faith, and Politics, which is due out later this year. In effectively analyzing these three questions one has to wonder if the government is truly equipped to effectively address poverty since it is difficult to determine what effectively addressing poverty actually means! I contend that once we get to the core of effectively and holistically addressing poverty it delves into historical, economic, educational, spiritual and psychological issues that are possibly more suited for THE institution in our society that many have continuously tried to keep completely isolated from government…..the Church!!!! Check out Question 3, in Race, Faith & Politics for more discussion on Poverty in America.

Photo Gallery

View all

Contact Me