Earlier today, some of you probably noticed that Hammer of Truth linked to an article in a links post with an interesting quote from a Mitt Romney campaign event where he allegedly said “I like to fire people.”
The quote is inaccurate,
and worse, it seems the article we cited — written by Union Leader’s John DiStaso — has gone 404 from their site. We’re unable to retrieve that article, it has disappeared down the memory hole (we’ll take that as a retraction).
Update: The article referenced has an updated permalink. It’s not clear why that is since the quote is still paraphrased.
As for what Romney actually said, he told reporters, “I like being able to fire people…” but he then continued, “who provide services to me. If someone doesn’t give me the good service I need, I’m going to go get somebody else to provide that service to me.” That’s a lot more than the snippet we had gotten from the downed Union Leader article.
Aside from not actually addressing the growing concern over the monopolistic nature of many of these services (how do you fire the electric company again?), it makes for a great soundbite in TV news clips and is nigh impossible not to agree with.
We’re all adults (mostly) and if you’ve ever managed a business of any size you can appreciate knowing that sometimes a sandbagging employee has to be shit-canned rather than be allowed to fester and infect employee morale. On the flip side, mass layoffs can have a predictably demoralizing effect on those who don’t get cut, making the company worse off. Given the length of his career at Bain Capital, Romney’s no doubt fallen on both sides of this coin many times.
It seems the campaigns are enjoying the attack opportunity afforded by latching onto this latest 2012 presidential brouhaha. As voters go to the polls this evening in frigid New Hampshire, Ron Paul’s National Campaign Chair Jesse Benton took a different tack on the controversy, coming to the defense of Romney and issuing stern words on respecting the truth:
“Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich are once again proving why they are unfit to be President and why this has become a two man national race between Mitt Romney, the candidate of the status quo, and Ron Paul, the candidate of real change.
“Two important issues that should unite Republicans are a belief in free markets and an understanding that the media often use ‘gotcha’ tactics to discredit us. Rather than run against Governor Romney on the issues of the day Santorum, Huntsman, and Gingrich have chosen to play along with the media elites and exploit a quote taken horribly out of context. They are also using the language of the liberal left to attack private equity and condemn capitalism in a desperate and, frankly, unsavory attempt to tear down another Republican with tactics akin to those of MoveOn.org.
“Santorum, Huntsman, and Gingrich are employing leftist tactics because they can’t run on their questionable records and can’t distinguish themselves from Romney. Like Romney, they all supported bailouts, big spending, deficits, and individual healthcare mandates. And, all three have disqualified themselves from the race for President of the United States, first with their records, then with their inability access major state ballots, and finally with these desperate and deplorable tactics.
“Dr. Paul is committed to running the kind of substantive, issues-based campaign the American people deserve. Our campaign will talk about real issues – real spending cuts, a sound monetary policy, protecting individual liberties, and promoting a pro-American foreign policy. We will win what is now a two-man race on these issues, the issues of grassroots America.”
Oddly enough, Ron Paul himself entered the fray telling an ABC reporter, “I think they’re unfairly attacking him on that issue because he never really literally said that,” Paul said. “They’ve taken him way out of context. … He wants to fire companies.” Except in this case Paul needs to go back and check the recording, because Romney really did say he likes to “fire people.” This is the same Mitt Romney who also said “corporations are people”, so the words could be interchangeable to him.
At this point, it’s extremely likely that undecided voters are growing weary at the torrents of negative press a few words out of context can generate. It’s unfortunate that many in the media (even on the internet) have a bad habit of doing hit and runs when it comes to the truth, rarely apologizing for factual error in the race to some mythical infallible future.
If information truly is a commodity, “caveat emptor” still makes the most fitting consumer warning label.
UPDATE: Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have stuck their fingers in the political winds and smartly joined Ron Paul in calling off their attacks, for now. And speaking of Bain-related attacks, I’m extremely curious how the Gingrich camp’s King of Bain videos have been going over with their select audiences. There’s really not much helpful to judge it by yet except a short trailer.
Best quote in the trailer is after some random old lady tells it like it is, her friend just casually replies, “You goan’ be on a hit list, you know that.” LOL, what the fuck, GingrichWhateverPAC?
UPDATE II: I should probably divulge that used to work at Bain & Company in Los Angeles for a short stint in 1997-98 as a mail room clerk way down the ladder in administrative services. I honestly don’t remember if I ever met Mitt in person (I probably didn’t, Bain Capital is a supposedly different arm than the consulting branch), but I remember racking up ridiculous amounts of overtime grinding out powerpoint stuff for these guys in these odd client cram sessions. I enjoyed being a busy bee in their extremely fancy pants offices and the company retreats to Palm Springs and Coronado were booze-filled frat parties. You wouldn’t believe the office supply budget this powerful consulting company had — for the prima donnas who had to have different pens than everyone else — it was adorable.
Overall, I enjoyed learning about business and economics at scale through my immersion with them, not to mention the many beers I clinked back with them as a minor. I am certainly not ungrateful of the experience.