In politics, we call this a gaffe:
Mitt Romney sat at the head of the table at a coffee shop here on Thursday, listening to a group of unemployed Floridians explain the challenges of looking for work. When they finished, he weighed in with a predicament of his own. “I should tell my story,” Mr. Romney said. “I’m also unemployed.” He chuckled. The eight people gathered around him, who had just finished talking about strategies of finding employment in a slow-to-recover economy, joined him in laughter.
“Are you on LinkedIn?” one of the men asked. “I’m networking,” Mr. Romney replied. “I have my sight on a particular job.”
“I wish I had a job for everybody,” Mr. Romney said at the end of his discussion. He added, “I may be unemployed for longer than I’d like.” The references to Mr. Romney’s own unemployment status added yet another humorous, but occasionally awkward, moment to his ever-growing catalog of off-the-cuff remarks that he makes as he seeks the Republican presidential nomination. He spent the morning doing more listening than talking — a woman in the crowd openly urged him to talk about the deficit — and it was unclear whether he persuaded any voters to join his effort.
The Times' write-up is actually rather charitable, considering how Romney's comment will likely be received by the media at large. Sure, Mitt is technically unemployed at the moment, but he's also a multimillionaire with a hefty net worth. Nobody looks at Mitt Romney and thinks, "gosh, he's struggling financially, just like me." Yes, he was obviously trying to make a self-depricating joke, and I suppose it helps that the folks at the diner laughed along with him, but Romney may want to scrub that line from future meet-and-greets. It isn't especially funny, and it conveys an unhelpful aloofness. On the heels of a strong debate performance, Team Mitt should be wary of momentum killers. Some, they can't help; others, like this story, are unforced errors. Incidentally, who wants to bet Mitt's comment will draw more MSM attention and scrutiny than President Obama's latest hits?
And since we're on the subject of POTUS and jobs, American Crossroads is back on the attack. Fresh off its 'Debbie Downer' masterpiece, the group is working overtime to hold the president accountable on his economic rhetoric. Effective:
The even more obvious problem with Obama's statement is that it isn't even factually correct to say that ATM machines displaced bank tellers. The number of ATMs more than doubled between 1998 and 2008, from 187,000 to 401,500, according to the American Bankers Association. Yet data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that during the same period, the number of bank tellers rose from 560,000 to 600,500. BLS expects "favorable" job prospects for bank tellers over the next decade.
John Hall, a spokesman for the American Bankers Association, explained that when ATMs started being used more widely, there was a lot of talk about them eliminating human bank branches, but it turned out that customers wanted both. The number of bank branches in the United States has grown from 81,444 in 1992 to 99,109 by late 2010, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. During that time, the total number of bank workers rose from 1.8 million to more than 2 million.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography