The Republican Party is still grappling with its electoral trouncing last week. But its vanquished nominee, Mitt Romney, has already worked out why he was thrashed: Barack Obama's "gifts" to minorities and illegal immigrants, college-loan waivers to young people and free contraceptives to college-aged women.
The microanalysis came during a conference call between Mr Romney and donors who had dug deep into their pockets with the hope of installing a Republican in the Oval Office. It was the first time Mr Romney has spoken publicly since his defeat last week.
He had failed them, he said, because the President who talked about the "bonds that hold" the country together on election night had, in fact, pursued a policy of targeting certain interest groups with lavish sops (in contrast to his strategy of "talking about big issues for the whole country").
Particular attention was devoted to "the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people" in Mr Romney's post-mortem. "In each case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups," he said during the call on Wednesday.
He spoke, for example, of the administration's offer of what he termed an "amnesty" to the children of illegal aliens, a reference to the proposed Dream Act, which would bestow legal status on a small group of illegal immigrants who arrived in the US before the age of 16.
"With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift," he said. "Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents' plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008."
Obamacare also brought out the minorities, he said, all the while failing to mention campaign missteps such as his comments, taped secretly, that 47 per cent of Americans were government-dependents who would vote for Mr Obama no matter what.
"You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you're now going to get free health care, particularly if you don't have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity – I mean, this is huge," he said. "Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus."
Although the defeated nominee displayed some contrition – he told donors he was "very sorry we didn't win" – it took little time for his observations to stir controversy. Louisiana's Republican Governor, Bobby Jindal, seen by many as a potential GOP presidential nominee for 2016, said Mr Romney was "absolutely wrong".
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