I’m in this race because I care about Americans. I’m not concerned about the very poor.
Mitt Romney The full quote, for context:
I’m in this race because I care about Americans. I’m not concerned about the very poor — we have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich — they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.
I’m pulling this quote out because I think it demonstrates two things. First, Romney neither understands nor cares about poverty. To him, a “safety net” is enough. He’s not concerned about why people might need a safety net or about taking any effort to reduce the systemic causes of poverty. Second, Romney seems to draw a distinction between “Americans” and “the very poor.” Clearly, if pressed, he would concede that “the very poor” are also Americans. But to Romney, when he thinks about Americans, it doesn’t occur to him to think about the most vulnerable.
Gingrich, despite his ridiculous and backwards statements on the issue, at least considers poverty something worth being concerned about. For Romney, the very poor aren’t worth considering until something is so broken he’s forced to address it.