“Man dating” Mitt Romney is a rich man.
Mitt Romney bet against his own campaign by challenging rival Rick Perry to a $10,000 wager during Saturday night’s presidential debate in Ames, Iowa. Perry refused the offer, made during a tit-for-tat about Romney’s individual mandate support, leaving Romney with a costly gaffe mocked by left and right alike.
The Democratic National Committee seized on Romney’s remark almost immediately, and began tweeting about it before the ABC News/Des Moines Register debate was even over.
“He’s going to own that $10,000 bet line… Nothing else he has said in this debate matters,” tweeted DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse. And as Talking Points Memo notes, the group started the “#What10Kbuys” hashtag, which became a national hit.
The most vocal and prominent of the Democrats, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz, had this to say in an official statement: “Romney, a millionaire 200 hundred times over, had the most out of touch moment in any debate so far – offering to bet Rick Perry $10,000 as casually as if it’s something he does all the time.”
CNN also points she used the phrase “out of touch” again on Fox News: “I think the governor consistently makes clear that he remains out of touch remarkably with the middle class, with working families.” That phrase is now the title of the DNC’s latest anti-Romney ad, which reminds voters that Romney has only 100 dollar bills in his wallet, said “corporations are people” and once joked that he’s “also unemployed,” though still has the money to make such a bet.
And Rick Perry has happily adopted the Democratic attack. Romney is “a little out of touch with normal Iowa citizens,” he said on Fox News Sunday. “I’m driving out to the station this morning. I’m sure I didn’t drive by a house that anyone in Iowa would even think about that a $10,000 bet was possible.” Fellow Republican Jon Huntsman created a website, 10KBet.com to take on Romney’s health care policies and accept his rival’s wager.
But Romney strategist Eric Fehrnstrom insists the comment was simply a joke, and that Romney knew “Rick Perry wouldn’t take [the bet], and by backing down Rick Perry looks weak.” And Romney made the same argument this morning, when he tried to shrug the whole thing off.
“[$10,000 was] an outrageous number to answer an outrageous charge from Rick,” he said on Fox and Friends. “It’s like saying, ‘hey, I’ll bet you a million bucks, x, y and z.” A million bucks of course would still be chump change when compared to Romney’s estimated $200 million fortune.
Remarkably silent was Newt Gingrich. His spokesman did remark, “I want to know if he has $10,000 in his pocket,” but the candidate himself has stayed away from Romney’s bet. As many have pointed out, Gingrich’s silence shows he feels no need to pile on weakened Romney.
“He did not add his voice to the dust-up surrounding Mr. Romney, a sign that he viewed his current position as strong and saw no reason to engage his leading rival,” writes the New York Times.
There’s really no winning this one: Romney’s comment just reminded us again that he has about $200 million, while the majority of the nation suffers. He can only hope that voters forget about his bet comment before the Iowa caucuses, or that another candidate makes a similarly potent gaffe. Unfortunately for Romney, the former frontrunner has the most to lose here, and Gingrich the most to gain.
But while we’re on the subject of Rick Perry and Mitt Romney’s individual mandate exchange, some clever splicer put together a little remix in which the candidates discuss one another’s own “man dates.” It’s surprisingly catchy.
Here the videos of Romney’s bet, the DNC’s response, the “man date” jam.