Jeff Atwater Defends Mitt Romney’s Campaign Strategy Comments
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Florida's Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater defended Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney from the national media onslaught coming his way for unguarded closed-door statements made months ago in Boca Raton.
Atwater, noting he had not actually read or heard Romney’s comments that were covertly recorded and turned over to the liberal Mother Jones magazine, said from the media reports it sounds as though Romney was addressing campaign strategy.
Something all candidates do.
“It seems to me like what he was expressing is ‘my job,’” Atwater said, following the state Cabinet meeting Tuesday in the Capitol.
“My job is to go talk to those individuals who I have a chance of persuading. My job is to talk to those folks who may still be open-minded to what I am talking about. Now if that was the intent of what he was saying, I think all of us have heard candidates speak in that language all the time.”
Atwater, who leads Florida Catholics for Romney, added that Romney at that time was concerned he had only six months of campaign time, a finite amount of resources and a limited number of battleground states, including Florida.
“If that was the intent, and it may not have been as artfully expressed as it should have been, (but) every candidate has done this,” Romney said. “Every candidate has at one time said ‘I’m speaking to people who I believe are still undecided about what I believe in. Some are clearly not going to be with me. And I’m going to speak to those who are still open-minded.”
Romney was addressing what he believed was a room full of well-financed potential supporters and undecided voters in Boca Raton as the primary was winding down and his prospects grew of being the party’s presidential nominee.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney says in one clip. "All right -- there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."
Romney has claimed in campaign stops that the Obama administration has pushed for state-by-state welfare waivers as a means to shore up his base.
"[M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives," Romney continued to his Boca Raton crowd.
New York Magazine reported that credit for the leak going viral goes to James Carter IV, the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, "who has been toiling online as an opposition researcher" and is "currently looking for work."
Both Atwater and Gov. Rick Scott agreed that even though the room Romney addressed was supposedly closed to the media and general public, they never personally consider anything they say to be off-the-record.
“I assume everything I say is public,” Scott told reporters Tuesday.
While it is illegal to illegally record someone without their knowledge or consent in Florida, Atwater said elected officials must always be “on-game” at all times.
“Any one of us who believes there’s not a camera on or a recording device or a cell phone, you’re living yesterday,” said Atwater.
Reach Jim Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (772) 215-9889.