TAMPA, Fla. — Mitt Romney sat at the head of the table at a coffee shop here on Thursday, listening to a group of unemployed Floridians explain the challenges of looking for work. When they finished, he weighed in with a predicament of his own.
“I should tell my story,” Mr. Romney said. “I’m also unemployed.”
He chuckled. The eight people gathered around him, who had just finished talking about strategies of finding employment in a slow-to-recover economy, joined him in laughter.
“Are you on LinkedIn?” one of the men asked.
“I’m networking,” Mr. Romney replied. “I have my sight on a particular job.”
The Hill, noting that Romney “risked looking as though he had a tin ear,” quickly reported the inevitable Democratic denunciation.
“Mitt Romney’s comments today at an event with unemployed Floridians that he’s ‘also unemployed’ is inappropriate and insensitive to the millions of Americans looking for work,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. “This comment shows that Mitt Romney – a man who wants for nothing and whose only occupation for more than four years has been to run for president – is incredibly out of touch with what’s going on in our country and around the dinner tables of those who are out of work.”
“I am not sure that I can think of anything more out of touch with Granite Staters than ‘chuckling’ at unemployment as Mitt Romney did today in Florida,” New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said.
My response? Give it a break, people. Seriously.
Being out of work is tough stuff, but I thought the Mittster was actually being kind of funny in that exchange. It’s absurd to go nuclear over such an innocent, well-intentioned piece of human interaction. If the unemployed people he was joking with thought it was appropriate and didn’t take offense, I’m more than willing to accept their judgment.
It’s a long time between now and November 2012; it’s OK to be human between now and then. Really it is.
Or it ought to be.
UPDATE: People are pointing out that Romney has been playing the game himself this week, twisting an Obama comment that the recovery has experienced “bumps in the road” by claiming that unemployed Americans are not “bumps in the road.” (see video below.)
It’s a fair point. On the other hand, it also confirms how silly such political games have become on both sides. I repeat: Give it a break, people. Seriously.
– Jay Bookman