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Expats debate: ‘I wish Mitt had said it publicly on the campaign trail’

U.S. Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks at campaign fundraiser in Dallas, Texas September 18, 2012.


The reaction continues to grow over Mitt Romney's videotaped comment at a Florida fundraiser about America's "47 per cent" – who, according to Mr. Romney, hold a "victim" and "entitlement" mentality. The Republican presidential candidate is not backing down.

In a USA Today op-ed, Mr. Romney promises to deliver a stronger economic recovery rather than more government dependency.

Our Globe and Mail expats reacted to Mr. Romney's original comments.

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This is part of our U.S. Election 2012: Canadians in America series – expats talking about life and politics south of the border.

Regan Fletcher, who works in digital sales and business strategy in San Francisco, Calif, from Oshawa, Ont.:

I've read a number of reactions today from conservative writers, bloggers, strategists and for the most part they seem to be a) saying "I wish he'd say this on the campaign trail", and b) spinning it around to attack Obama for something.

I get the spin part, that's the nature of the game.

But I also get the "wish he'd say it publicly" part. And I agree with them. Not because I salivate at Mitt being Mitt and showing he's out of touch with non-rich Americans, but because I think it would be a better campaign strategy for him than just hammering Obama on the state of the economy.

New polls continuously show that many Americans are not really blaming Obama for the economy or that they see the economy getting better soon regardless of who's in the White House. So I'd love to see Mitt just lay it out there for the undecideds.

If Mitt had taken this message to the streets I think the race would be different today. Either he'd be down by 10+ points, or it would be neck and neck. Despite my feelings about Mitt being out of touch with most Americans, it would be refreshing to see a politician talk with some brutal honesty. This country has some problems that need honest speak regardless of political consequence.

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That said, how in the world did none of Mitt's advisers tell him 12 months ago that in 2012 there is always a video camera running somewhere?

Ben Wright, web co-ordinator in Atlanta, Ga., from PEI:

I'm impressed with how quickly and effectively the Obama campaign has responded via this video .

What frightens me is that I know by the end of the day people who I know, respect and like will somehow find a way to agree with what Romney said.

Tactically, he was right by saying that he's not going to convince 47 per cent of the country to vote for him and that he needs to focus on the middle.

The problem for him is that the 47 per cent who are already decided as Obama supporters and the 47 per cent who use government programs aren't the same 47 per cent.

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Take a look at per-capita incomes and the use of government assistance programs on a state-by-state basis and you'll see that many of the people Romney is insulting in the video are voters in Republican-leaning states. He may have just shot himself in the foot – with a bazooka.

Brian Monkman, technology project manager in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, from Oakville, Ont.:

I think this episode shows clearly how out of touch Mr. Romney is with the reality of life in the U.S.

I would have a hard time accepting that the single mother of three who has lost her job and has to take food stamps and unemployment insurance is a freeloader.

Or perhaps Mr. Romney thinks the disabled war vet – a vet who had been sent to both Iraq and Afghanistan – is a burden on society that is unworthy of these "entitlements."

Most of the time I understand where Mr. Romney is coming from – even if I don't usually agree with him. This time I just don't get it. He might have been pandering to the audience, you know those folks with deep pockets.

Or this might be evidence of his thinking evolving – much like President Obama's thinking on some topics has evolved over time.

Or perhaps he was showing us what he really thinks. And that is the only American that he considers has any value -- those Americans who earn, at least, six figure salaries.

Regardless of what his reasons are, I have judged him unworthy of ascending to the office of the President.

My only real concern is: I am not yet convinced that President Obama has demonstrated that he deserves another four years. Unfortunately, it appears that this is coming down to the lesser or two evils.

Jenny Zhang, who works in advertising in Greenville, North Carolina, from Ottawa:

I'm less surprised by the general sentiment of utter disdain for the American people than by his willful ignorance of his own privilege.

He thinks that being born to the Romneys gave him no advantage? Really? He genuinely thinks that his message would be magically more palatable if only he had a Mexican parent? I don't even know where to begin.

Regardless, any presidential candidate who's willing to write off 47 per cent of the population – no matter by which criteria that 47 per cent is determined – should not be running for president.

Sorry, Mitt, you don't get to decide which part of the country you want to govern.

Certainly, most of that 47 per cent would fall under your jurisdiction, as a majority of the "moocher" states skew Republican.

As the always excellent Washington Post Wonkblog points out: a lot of the tax cuts that have significantly reduced federal income tax burdens were pushed through by the Republicans, and now this non-payment is being used as an excuse to castigate their constituents as a "taker class." It's quite a strategy.

Robert Slaven, actuarial living in Camarillo, California, from Yellowknife:

To be honest, I found it absolutely astounding.

I feel rage at the system where the rich get to run things the way they want, and everyone else just has to "deal with it."

I feel rage at the system that allows companies like Wal-Mart to extort tax concessions from the jurisdictions where they locate their stores, and then hire people mostly at part-time hours and low enough salaries that many of the workers need second jobs or food stamps to feed their families.

I feel rage at the continual lies fed to us by the rich and their mouthpieces, lies like "Cut our taxes and the economy will improve," or "We need to wage war against Iraq because, you know, 9/11."

I feel rage at elected officials and candidates who think government should not give anybody a handout – except for big profitable corporations like the oil and corn giants. I feel rage at a system that treats people like widgets, instead of like human beings.

And Mitt Romney, and what he said to those fellow rich people that night, is the standard bearer for all of those things that I feel are wrong, unfair, unjust, un-Christian, unethical and inhumane.

Some quotes have been edited and condensed.

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