Debunking Rick Santorum’s ‘Mitt the Occupier’ Remarks

DES MOINES, IA - DECEMBER 29: A protestor affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement demonstrates outside the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters on December 29, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa. Thirteen people were arrested during the protest.
An Occupy Wall Street protester in Iowa last month. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)s Photo: Andrew Burton/2011 Getty Images

With his national lead slipping to just one point but his chances of pulling an upset in Arizona still above zero, Rick Santorum wasted no time in going after his chief rival, Mitt Romney, although with a rather unexpected line of attack: “We have a candidate for president who is campaigning as an Occupy Wall Street adherent.” Mitt Romney, part of the 99 percent? Granted, Romney did recently defend his own tax plan using that fundamentally socialist slogan of “fairness,” and even promised he would “make sure the top one percent keeps paying the current share they’re paying or more.” But really, this is just Romney doing what he does best, which is realigning his message to whatever the polls say is popular. (The latest numbers show a solid majority in favor of President Obama’s millionaire tax proposals.) Because, for Occupy Wall Street, there’s clearly no love lost between them and Mitt Romney.

October 4, 2011: In one of his first remarks on Occupy Wall Street, Romney told a gathering at the Villages in Florida, “I think it’s dangerous, this class warfare.” Fighting words!

October 5, 2011: When asked directly for comment on the movement, Romney brushed the protesters’ gripes aside and joked, not too cheerily or eloquently, “I’m just trying to get myself to occupy the White House.

October 11, 2011: A few days later, speaking at a town hall in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, he blamed the occupiers for unfairly targeting Wall Street banks. “Are there bad actors on Wall Street? Absolutely. And are there bad actors on Main Street? Absolutely. All the streets are connected — Wall Street’s connected to Main Street. And so finding a scapegoat, finding someone to blame, in my opinion isn’t the right way to go.

January 19, 2012: In Charleston, South Carolina, early in the day, Romney was confronted with an Occupy Wall Street protester who demanded: “What will you do to support the 99 percent even though you are part of the one percent?” To which Romney replied: “Let me tell you something. America is a great nation because we’re a united nation and those who try to divide the nation as you’re trying to do here and as our president’s doing are hurting this country seriously. […] And if you’ve got a better model — if you think China’s better, or Russia’s better, or Cuba’s better, or North Korea’s better — I’m glad to hear all about it. But you know what? America’s right and you’re wrong.

January 19, 2012: Later that same day, up in New Hampshire, Romney even had to yell down at least two Occupy Wall Street hecklers. In his usual flustered way, he told one lady: “Hey, instead of shouting, why don’t you say what you mean, what’s your view? Madam, what do you think?” Later on, he rolled out his trademarked line — “You had your turn, now it’s my turn” — against another occupier.

Nice try, Rick, but we just don’t see this “Mitt the Occupier” charge sticking. It’ll just confuse the voters, who until recently were being told that Romney is a Wall Street–loving, job-destroying corporate raider.

Debunking Santorum’s ‘Mitt the Occupier’ Remarks