Mitt Romney: “I Like Being Able to Fire People Who Provide Services to Me”

Mitt Romney.<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/wacphiladelphia/4558471727/">World Council of Philadelphia/Flickr

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As he faces attacks from all sides for his years at private equity firm Bain Capital, Mitt Romney might regret a line he uttered in Nashua on Monday morning.

The day before New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary, Romney, the front-runner, spoke for nearly 45 minutes at a breakfast discussion organized by the local chamber of commerce and attended by local businessmen, businesswomen, and journalists. Afterward, he took questions from the audience, including one on how he would fix America’s health-care system as president after repealing President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Here’s Romney’s full reply (emphasis mine):

“I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also mean that if you don’t like what they do, you could fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone isn’t giving the good service, I want to say, ‘I’m going to get someone else to provide this service too.'”

Now, Romney’s “I like being able to fire people” comment needs to be placed in the context of his response to the local businessman’s question. Still, it’s exactly the kind of soundbite to end up in a Democratic attack ad in three or four months if Romney wins the GOP presidential nomination.

The quote couldn’t come at a worse time for Romney, whose opponents are ramping up their attacks on his work at Bain Capital. A pro-Newt Gingrich super-PAC, Winning Our Future, has created a 27-minute video purports to highlight the “corporate raider” nature of Bain’s business model. The super-PAC told the New York Times it will spend $3.4 million on ads in South Carolina, the site of the next primary. Some of that money will surely be spent on ads attacking Romney and his business record. (Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson recently cut a $5 million check to Winning Our Future, so the group can afford a big ad buy.)

The full context makes Romney’s “fire people” quote seem less controversial. But that won’t stop Republicans, Democrats, and political front groups from making use of it. Thirty-second political ads aren’t known for their ability to put quotes in their proper context.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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