Mitt Romney: “I Like Being Able To Fire People”

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on January 9, 2012 – 2:59 pm

Mitt Romney has run a remarkably gaffe-free campaign.

Until today.

In what might be the most damaging single sentence to emerge from a frontrunner’s lips since John McCain’s 2008 claim that the “fundamentals of our economy are strong” (which he uttered as Lehman Brothers was collapsing and the stock market was plummeting), Mitt Romney said this morning that he “likes being able to fire people.”

“Wait a minute,” you might think, “that’s taken totally out of context!”

That may be true, but it doesn’t matter. Gaffes that reinforce an existing narrative about a candidate are almost always the most harmful ones, and Gov. Romney is already enduring increasing attacks from opponents and Democrats alike for being more of a job “cremator” than job creator during his tenure at Bain Capital.

As pundit Michael Kinsley once said, a “gaffe” is when a politician tells the truth. Mr. Romney’s comment will hurt him because many voters will view it as revelatory, not accidental. 

You may remember that back in 2008, days before the New Hampshire primary, Sen. Barack Obama sarcastically quipped during a debate that Sen. Hillary Clinton was “likeable enough,” paving the way for her unexpected win in the Granite State.

It’s less likely that Mitt Romney will lose tomorrow night’s primary – but his gaffe could narrow the margin and complicate his “inevitable” march to the nomination.

Did you miss the 10 worst media disasters of 2011? Click here to catch up!

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  • About Mr. Media Training

    The Mr. Media Training Blog offers daily tips to help readers become better media spokespersons and public speakers. It also examines how well (or poorly) public figures are communicating through the media.

    Brad Phillips is the Founder and Managing Editor of the Mr. Media Training Blog. He is the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm with offices in NYC and DC.

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    Before founding Phillips Media Relations in 2004, Brad worked as a journalist with ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel and CNN's Reliable Sources and The Capital Gang.

    Brad tweets at @MrMediaTraining.

    Christina Mozaffari is the Senior Writer for the Mr. Media Training Blog. She is the Washington, D.C. vice president for Phillips Media Relations.

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    Before joining Phillips Media Relations in 2011, Christina worked as a journalist with NBC News, where she produced stories for MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, NBC Nightly News, and The Today Show.

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