School was in session today as President Obama gave Mitt Romney a lesson in the political importance of being a human being.
Video courtesy of C-SPAN:
Transcript from the White House:
THE PRESIDENT: What I think about is my first race. And this was when I was first running for state senate — I couldn’t afford television commercials. And Michelle and I, we used to go door to door and pass out flyers that we had printed out at Kinko’s. And we had our friends and our family members, and we’d march in Fourth of July parades. And it was hard work. And I didn’t have Air Force One back then. (Laughter.)
But when I think about my first race, I think about why I got into politics. And the reason I got into politics was because this country has blessed me so much. And I thought about my own family — how my grandfather fought in Patton’s army in World War II, while my grandmother was back home working on a bomber assembly line. And when my grandfather came back, he was able to go to college on the GI Bill, and they were able to buy a home through the FHA.
And then I thought about my single mom — because my dad left when I was very young — and how, despite all the struggles, she was able to get a great education because that’s the kind of country this was. And she was able to pass on a great education to me and my sister. (Applause.)
And then I think about Michelle’s mom, and the fact that Michelle’s mom and dad, they didn’t come from a wealthy family. Michelle’s dad, he worked a blue-collar job at the sanitary plant in Chicago. And my mother-in-law, she stayed at home until the kids got older. And she ended up becoming a secretary, and that’s where she worked at most of her life, was a secretary at a bank.
So none of us came from privileged backgrounds, none of us had a lot of wealth or fame. But what we understood was that here in America, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what church you worship at, no matter what region of the country — if you were willing to work hard, if you were willing to take responsibility for your life, you could make it if you try here in the United States of America. (Applause.)
And that basic idea, that basic bargain that says here we all deserve a fair shot, and everybody should do their fair share and everybody should play by the same set of rules — that basic bargain that says, if you’re willing to work hard and take responsibility in your own life, then you can find a job that pays a living wage and you can save up and buy a home and you won’t go bankrupt if you get sick. Maybe you can take a vacation with your family once in a while — nothing fancy, but you can go out and go visit some of our national parks.
President Obama made the crowd forget about the scorching Steel City heat by doing something that Mitt Romney can’t. The president connected with them as a fellow human being. The contrast was striking as voters never hear Romney talk about his own background like Obama did, because he can’t.
It is impossible for Mitt Romney to connect with regular people due to the fact that he has never been a regular person. Romney has no idea what it is like to grow up middle class or lower. He has no clue what the American people are going through right now, which is why when his statement today about the new jobs numbers being a kick in the gut to the middle class was particularly laughable.
Romney has never been middle class, and he has most certainly never been financially kicked in the gut. The right whines and calls this class warfare, but the truth is that it is a simple matter of biography and personal experience. Obama can identify with the middle class because it wasn’t all that long ago that he was middle class.
Barack Obama connects with voters on a personal level. There was something very human in his remarks today. What we are seeing is a president who is embarking on his final campaign. This is the last time that Barack Obama is ever going to be running for office. There is reflectiveness in his remarks which suggests that the president is charting a path forward, but also reminding himself of where he and his family have been.
While the corporate Romney campaign appears to have based their entire strategy on a notion that voters will make their decision in November the same way that consumers chose a product to buy, the Obama campaign understands that this choice is about people. A Republican Party that is guided by emotion has nominated a cold corporate autocrat, while the reason based Democratic Party is being led by an intellectual candidate who also possesses great charisma and emotional appeal.
What Mitt Romney may find out in four months is that being a cold calculating businessman is a way to build a personal fortune, but being a human being is how Barack Obama will win reelection.