Surely it can’t hurt Mitt Romney’s heretofore nonexistent blue collar appeal to have a member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour endorse him.
Grammy-award-winning comedian Jeff Foxworthy, known for his popular “You might be a redneck if … ” series, tweeted his support for Romney yesterday.
“Time for Republicans to unite behind Gov. Romney, a great leader who can win the White House and rebuild our economy for all Americans,” the funnyman, known for telling “redneck” jokes, tweeted on Thursday.
Romney’s son Tagg called the nod “very cool” on Twitter, writing, “I am a huge Blue Collar Comedy fan.”
Lately, Romney — who has never exactly been known for his ability to connect with voters — has added to the perception of distance between “the average American” and himself with remarks that betray his blindness to the needs and desires of middle class workers. Michael Gerson calls it Romney’s “Thurston Howell” problem and writes that, unlike Romney’s other problems, it could be hard to correct before or during the general election:
Yet one awkward fit — related to class — becomes more damaging in November. In Ohio, as in Michigan, Romney lost voters making less than $100,000 a year, as well as voters without a college degree. In Oklahoma and Tennessee, Romney’s support was below 25 percent among voters earning less than $50,000 a year.
It is true that Obama also has a serious problem with the white working class. He lost that group by 18 points in the 2008 election. But, since his State of the Union address earlier this year, Obama has been brushing up on his blue-collar populism. And he needs to only marginally improve his performance with these voters to seriously increase his reelection chances.
Romney is stuck in a stereotype. During occasional gaffes, he sounds not just like your boss but like your boss’s boss. The main problem, however, is the message. In addition to talking about reducing taxes and cutting government, Romney needs to present a vision of social mobility and set out the egalitarian appeal of opportunity. He needs to emphasize policies — on education, job skills and wealth accumulation — that encourage aspiration. But this appeal is postponed as long as the contest for conservatives in the Republican primaries continues.
Unlike his other challenges, Romney’s class problem does not fade: It must be fixed. And it is difficult to even begin until the Republican race ends.
When it comes to disarming voters, humor never hurts. Romney might want to think seriously about leveraging Foxworthy’s talent. So Newt Gingrich has Chuck Norris … Romney has the nation’s favorite redneck.
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