Categorized | Commentary/Editorial, Videos

Republican Debate: Who Would Have Won the Bet?

As most are undoubtedly aware, Mitt Romney challenged Rick Perry to a $10,000 bet in last night’s GOP debate in Iowa.  Here’s the key exchange:

“Perry: I’m hearing you say all the right things. But I read your first book and it said in there that your mandate in Massachusetts, which should be the model for the country — I know it came out of the reprint of the book, but, you know, I’m just saying, you were for individual mandates, my friend.

Romney: You know what, you’ve raised that before, Rick, and you’re wrong.

Perry: It was true then, it’s true now

Romney: Rick, I’ll tell you what, 10,000 bucks, $10,000 bet.

Perry: I’m not in the betting business.”

Most of the media focus has been on the "multimillionaire Mitt is out of touch" with the average American angle: Only a Wall Streeter, not a Main Streeter, would cavalierly toss around $10,000 bets. I have a couple media examples of this line of thinking.  First, from the Des Moines Register:

The loudest post-debate chatter rolling into this morning centered on whether Mitt Romney had committed a major gaffe in proposing a $10,000 bet to Rick Perry in the middle of Saturday night’s debate.

Critics of Romney’s move saw it as a signature moment that will alienate the multimillionaire businessman from average Americans.

Romney’s bet echoes the words of a Wall Street politician, said Robert Haus, Iowa co-chairman for Perry’s campaign.

In a piece at the LA Times James Oliphant suggests, correctly, that this latest Romneyism is nothing short of an early Christmas gift for Obama’s upcoming "us versus them" campaign should Romney be the nominee:

Romney, who likes to talk about his work creating jobs as a venture capitalist  in the private sector, is estimated to be worth between $190 million and $250 million.

Should he go on to win the Republican nomination, the clip from Saturday’s debate may be replayed again and again in Democratic attack ads.

The reaction of former Obama White House aide Bill Burton to Romney’s bet was typical. Burton now runs a Democratic "super PAC."

"Not a lot of 99%’ers are out there making $10,000 bets," Burton wrote on Twitter.

And the Democratic National Committee quickly fired off a mass email titled: "What the Average American Family Can Buy With $10,000."

The class envy meme, to be sure, is all too real and there’s no doubt Team Obama couldn’t believe their good fortune when Romney uttered those words last night.  How difficult will it be to combine last night’s casual $10,000 wager with this picture in a "gazillionaire Mitt is not one of us" advertising campaign? I’m guessing they cut at least one such ad before the sun came up this morning.

With the media primarily focused on the "Mitt’s out of touch" narrative, not much attention has been brought to bear on Mitt’s truthfulness: Who would have won the bet had it been agreed to? When Mitt said "you’ve raised that before, Rick, and you’re wrong", what, specifically, is Romney disputing?  In reading the exchange between the two above, I can think of at least three possibilities. First, Romney’s making the claim that nothing was removed from the first edition of his book, and Perry is wrong about that.  Second, Romney is contending that he was never for government-imposed individual mandates.  Finally, the Mittster is averring that he never suggested RomneyCare could be applied outside of Massachusetts.

Let’s take a look at each of the possibilities, shall we.

To my knowledge, Romney has always dissembled when asked, specifically, if he had removed the line in question from his book.  But one of his flacks, Eric Fehrnstrom admitted he did just that when pressed after an earlier debate in which Mitt attempted a particularly egregious bit of doublespeak that even ABC News wasn’t buying, and they demanded clarification:

After the debate Romney’s staffer Fehrnstrom went into greater detail to explain what Romney was trying to say during the debate. Fehrnstrom said that line was indeed removed because there was more information when the second version of the book came out.  The line was originally written, according to Fehrnstrom, before Obamacare was on the books.

What the passage of ObamaCare has to do with Mitt’s inability to answer a simple yes or no question is unclear, but it is clear that the line was indeed removed from Romney’s book, and he knows it.  Now to the second possibility: Was Romney for government-decreed individual health care mandates?  Let’s hear from Mitt himself on that:

That would be a yes.  Enough said.  Finally, did Romney suggest in his book — or anywhere else — that RomneyCare could be applied to the rest of the country? First, let’s take a look at the eleven-word line the Mittster wants us to believe was never in his book.  Except it was (emphasis mine):

We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country, and it can be done without letting government take over health care.

Admittedly, I’m not a linguist, but that seems pretty clear to me, and certainly buttresses Perry’s claim.  Romney knows this all too well, of course.  Otherwise, why would he have removed that line from his book?  Perhaps Romney is basing his nonsense on the fact that the word "model" or "paradigm" wasn’t included in the book. But that’s classic Romney dissembling as the practical effect is identical.  But I’ll play along: Has Romney ever explicitly suggested RomneyCare could be a "model" for the nation?  Why yes, he has, via the Weekly Standard’s Jeffrey H. Anderson:

In fact, however, as Newsweek writes, “During a speech in Baltimore on Feb. 2, 2007, Romney outlined his ambitions for the Massachusetts plan. ‘I’m proud of what we’ve done,’ he said. ‘If Massachusetts succeeds in implementing it, then that will be a model for the nation.’”

At the very least, Romney has clearly viewed his efforts as a model for other states across the nation. On April 11, 2006, the day before he signed his health care legislation into law, he wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed (called “Health Care for Everyone? We Found a Way”), “How much of our health-care plan applies to other states? A lot.”

In his book, No Apology, he wrote of Ted Kennedy (on page 174 in the hardback edition), “[T]o his credit he saw an opportunity to work in a bipartisan fashion to try an experiment that might become a model for other states.” Three pages later (on page 177), Romney wrote, “From now on, no one in Massachusetts has to worry about losing his or her health insurance if there is a job change or a loss in income; everyone is insured and pays only what he or she can afford….We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country….”

Ladies and gentleman of the jury, the evidence is in.  Romney removed the line from the book, is for government health care mandates, and has suggested on multiple occasions that RomneyCare could be applied to the rest of the country.  Had Perry taken Romney’s bet, he’d have won.  Romney’s stunt last night was more than a mere gaffe. Video below:

Update: Ed Morrissey offers this succinct analysis of Romney’s stunt:

If Romney wanted to make himself look rich, arrogant, and clueless, he could hardly have done a better job.  When was the last time someone challenged you to a ridiculous bet in order to intimidate you out of an argument?  For me, I think it was junior-high school.



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  • SteveBayrd

    Excellent, Doug! I had no knowledge of the facts about the book but wondered greatly, especially after last night. Under "slick, coiffed, slimy politician" in the dictionary is a picture of… Romney. Just what the Tea Party has been fighting since 2008. 

  • Adrienne Ross

    Good stuff, Doug! You rocked it. Thanks for doing your homework.

  • Betsey_Ross

    Romney’s in such deep trouble with that line.  It was in there. We know it, he knows it and will not come out and admit it.  He’s hanging on to Romney Care as if it was a great program.  It was/is a failure and cannot sustain itself. 

    As the campaign slogs on, Sarah is so right.  Keep it simple with a few people you can trust.  Don’t hire a lot of them and go with your instincts.   People are tired of highly paid flunkies who hang around Washington marinating in the stink and corruption.

    • carmtom13

      I agree with you. Governor Palin belongs in this race whether the GOP likes it or not! She is the only real conservative who says what she means and means what she says. She is the only one who is not a DC insider.

      • blackbird

        Brianus said in the open thread "Who was the winner of last night’s debate? Sarah Palin!!" As I was watching the debate, at numerous times I was thinking… how the Governor would shine. I wonder how many sitting in their living rooms were thinking something similar. The fact is The Bar has been set too high.

        • carmtom13

          My friend use to like your comments and also mentioned snowleperd. What web sites have you both been frequenting? Would you like to friend us? My friend is sarahtheone.

          • blackbird

            Hi carmtom13, your words are too kind, I am humbled, thank you and sarahtheone. I hang out here at C4P and TRS, from these 2 sites I explore the web. The folks here are the best, my mind have expanded in directions I never thought of, I owe them a lot. I am not on facebook, twitter or any of the other social media websites I guess I am too shy. Reading your post over at TRS and here at C4P I consider you a friend. Thank you and sarahtheone again for your most Gracious and Humbling words.

      • Jelayne Sessler

        Got a call from the RNC yesterday, they mentioned the 2012 election and I said, "I’m writing in Sarah Palin’s name" and hung up.

    • blackbird

      "…He’s hanging on to Romney Care as if it was a great program…" imo so he can point out to his Liberal Intellectuals (in his mind) see, I am just like you.

  • blueniner

    All the morning shows were talking about Romenys 10,000 dollar gaffe. Thats going to haunt him.

  • goldenprez

    Mark Steyn: "Conservatives are willing to trade Mitt Romney, a man who believes in an individual mandate, global warming, and amnesty … for …

    Newt Gingrich, a man who believes in an individual mandate, global warming, and amnesty."

    You all can spin yourselves down to China, but there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between these two. They are both flip-floppers and big government stooges. They will sell you, and America, out in a heartbeat for their own self-aggrandizement.

    Anyone who supports either of these two snake-oil salesmen, deserves exactly what they get. When Newt Gingrich turns on you, and he will, there should be no "crying in your beer." You made your choice, and you should be man/woman enough to live with it.

    You should also be ashamed to be so easily fooled.

    Yes, indeed, Newt Gingrich … Hope And Change.

    How has that worked out for you so far?

    Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.

    Illegitimi non carborundum.

    Barracudas Maximus.

    • DougBrady

      I wasn’t aware Gingrich was mentioned in the post. How is any of this relevant to Romney’s debate performance last night?

    • JennyNoles

      Glad to see you back goldenprez.  Don’t mention the Newt………uhoh

      • goldenprez

        JennyNoles … As you can see, my "fans" are assembling in support of the truth.

        They say I’m "not important." Yet they come, brandishing their pitchforks … lol

        Let us suppose, for a moment, that somewhere between today and September 2012, Mrs. Palin makes an announcement that she is going to seek the Presidency of The United States.

        Will all of the people who have now fastened on Mr. Gingrich as their candidate change their minds and flock to Mrs. Palin?

        How many of the above noted people are going to work on the campaign of Mr. Gingrich? Donating money, making telephone calls, getting out the vote, and making passionate pleas in his behalf?

        We already know that Mrs. Palin has an army ready to march.

        I really do not understand the "rush" to affiliate with Mr. Gingrich. However, the passion for his candidacy, as near as I can tell, is sorely lacking.

        Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.

        Illegitimi non carborundum.

        Barracudas Maximus.

    • mark1955

      Mark Steyn? Isn’t that the dark,depressing,defeatist Euro/Canadian,who lives in this country (Vermont),but is not an American citizen? Is this the same Mark Steyn,who’s latest book has a cover of the United States,on it’s back already finished? Is this the same Mark Steyn, when on the Hannity program earlier this year, when  asked to evaluate the candidates said(I’m paraphrasing), Governor Palin should be a cheerleader and Tim Pawlenty was his favorite?Steyn is Another in the long line of:Krauthammer’s,Ingraham’s,Coulter’s,K-Lo’s,.Kristol’s,Ben Steins,Frum’s,Parker’s etc.who try to cover-up their elitism by pretending to be conservatives.Please,all we ask is that the Mark Steyn’s of this world get the heck out of our way so we can take back the country!

  • blackbird

    Thanks for the post Doug. I watched the debate last night and why Romney isn’t polling behind Santorum I do not know.

    • patriot173

      blackbird: You ask "why"???? isn’t romey polling behind Santorum???? MONEY AND THE GOP CRIMES AND CORRUPTION CLUB!!!!

      You can "bet" your last thin dime, if Sarah was in it, this guy would be dead meat….

      Newt, Romey, Perry, et. al…..Faaagedaboudit…..They don’t have that fire in the belly for the love of God, Family and Country, only THE CUDA!

    • IwjwI

      Have you noticed that the MSM is ignoring Santorum? It was blatant in this debate. They are doing whatever they can to keep Santorum out. Why? Even in the little recaps, that they did of the candidates before they cut back to the debate, there was none of Santorum.
      It looks like the MSM wants to silence Santorum.
      I think that we ought to help boost Santorum in any poll that we can vote in to knock the front runners off of their pedestals and mess with the MSM and the GOP.

  • jeffo1

    Dear Sarah & Family: PLEASE don’t ask us to choose an inferior candidate. If we ever needed someone with INTEGRITY it is now.  Please reconsider, only our BEST will get the job done.

    CUDA2012 In Sarah we TRUST

  • LLDub

    Romney was dancing on the head of pin throughout the thing, for the most part.    Sometimes I wish that those who support other candidates wouldn’t attack those they don’t support simply because they’re not orators.   Perry’s no dim bulb.   Up until 2010 elections he had to negotiate with the dems in the  Texas legislature for everything, as republicans were never in the position to push through what conservatives wanted anytime they wanted to.    We managed to get concealed carry out of that, no small task.  We also got HB 1815, which allows the carrying of a concealed gun in your car without a CCL.   That was pretty big for those of us that at least want a little protection in the car, but don’t necessarily think we need to carry a gun on our person.

    I don’t think he’s anywhere close to winning the nomination, but if he did I wouldn’t hesitate to support him.

    I’m loving watching Romney and the "establishment" republicans crash and burn.   I bet Jeb’s phone is ringing off the wall right about now.

  • Palinpower

    Excellent piece. No one is more UN-electable than Mitt Romney.

  • Mary Beth House

    Does anyone here remember the kerfuffle when George HW Bush went to the grocery store?

    Even though the story itself seems to largely have been ginned up by our good friends at the New York Slimes, the tale reinforced the narrative of Bush as an out of touch aristocrat who was unfamiliar with the day to day activities of the serfs and other lesser beings living under his benevolent rule.

    Mitt’s foot in mouth moment has that same sense about it.

  • Steve_Flesher

    As far as I am concerned, throwing around 10K frivolously like that is not what I want to see out of a potential candidate who would have access to our money.  Especially when there are a lot of big donors out there to pay back for favors. 

  • Freempg

    Thank you for yet another fine read and providing me another opportunity to recite my mantra: I will NEVER vote for Romney. Thanks again, Doug, and keep up the good work.

  • travelingon

    “I didn’t grow up poor,” Romney said, and noted that if voters are
    looking for someone who did, they’ll have to vote for somebody else"


    I put this in the open thread as well; it just struck me as a really odd thing to say.  One thing is for sure, there is no humility there.

  • daisy_mae

    I disliked the idea of a Romney presidency.  Pretty much loathe the idea now.  

  • VADMCollingwood

    I am Barack Obama and I paid for this debate.  

  • nkthgreek

    Whether or not Romney removed the line, he’s been handing us a line since he declared his candidacy.

  • friskyness

    Romney and his supporters think he is "entitled" to the nomination!

  • Firelight

    Doug that is a fabulous round up of truth. Romney is a bold faced liar. He has lied so much he can’t keep track of his stories.

  • Guest

    ABC News Presidential Debate: Newt Comes Well Armed with the Truth !!! Newt is the LIE and GOTCHA Bomb Squad !!! 

  • PCR1

    With his $10k bet challenge to Perry, Romney essentailly handed this nomination to Newt.

    With his rash, ill thought challenge, Romney finally lost his cool, showed himself to be desperate,

    defending the indefensible – and identified himself as a Wall Street moneyman, able to toss

    thousands of dollars into the wind, at a time of high unemployment and nationwide consumer belt


    Romney has been trying to win this nomination battle by smiling, staying aloof, and saying nothing of

    substance, confident that at the end of the day, he will be the one still standing.

    Well, he finally did say something, and in so doing he stuck his foot and his shiny shoes  straight into

    his mouth.

    In this instance, Newt won more than a debate, he essentially won the nomination – assuming that he

    does not loose his cool, and end up emulating Romney.

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