According to aides, Romney has thought about, and been concerned about, poverty his entire life. They point to a biographical video the Romney campaign produced for the Republican convention and now plays before campaign events around the country. The video features old film of George Romney, Mitt's father, saying, "I've been poor. I've worked from the time I was 12. I know what poverty is, I've been up through it."
Indeed, on the stump, Mitt Romney often talks about his father's modest beginnings. "There were times in my dad's life when he lived in poverty," Romney said in a speech to a Hispanic group in June. "My dad didn't finish college ... He held odd jobs -- lath and plaster and selling paint. He was lucky enough to live in America, where hard work can turn aspirations into realities." The elder Romney went on to become CEO of American Motors and, later, governor of Michigan.
Of course, Mitt Romney never lived in poverty and is today fabulously wealthy. But he heard his father every day growing up, and it's probably fair to say that he hears him still today. And so Romney thinks about poverty and what to do about it. He believes his proposals to spur economic growth will lift large numbers of Americans out of poverty. And he's willing to talk about it.
The irony is that, after the leak of the "47 percent" video on Sept. 17, Romney has fought the charge that he doesn't care about the poor. But the fact is, if you listen to both Romney and Obama on the stump, you will hear concern about the nation's poor from one candidate and virtually nothing from the other.