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Gaffing His Way to Victory

News alert: Romney is rich, but voters by and large don’t care.

Mar 12, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 25 • By FRED BARNES
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Candid to a fault, Santorum attacked President Obama for wanting “everybody in America to go to college.” He called Obama a “snob.” Again, it was an accurate reflection of Santorum’s thinking, not a poll-tested, insincere remark to win votes. It clashes, however, with the widespread aspiration of Americans to get a college education and doubtless did more harm than good to his candidacy.

A good question is why the media have identified so many gaffes. Brit Hume of Fox News says political reporters, when confronted with a peculiar, off-the-wall comment by a politician, don’t know how to label it except as a gaffe. Besides, Hume says, much of the media are living in “a parallel universe in which wealth is a vice and poverty a virtue.”

Though Romney’s millions put him at a disadvantage, there’s a way out. “He needs to embrace his personal history and then joke about it,” says political scientist Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia. JFK was adept at this. When his father’s role in financing his campaign became an issue, he quoted his father as saying he’d be willing to buy the election, “but I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide.” Too bad Romney isn’t as witty as he is wealthy.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

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