Which Presidential Candidate is Out of Touch Now? A Handy Scorecard

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 8 2012 5:18 PM

Keeping Score in the Battle of Who's In Touch Less

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US President Barack Obama at a June 8 press conference in which he proved he's out of touch, according to Mitt Romney.

Photo by Brendan Smialowski for AFP/Getty Images

If, as my colleague John Dickerson wrote in April, the 2012 presidential campaign is a contest to see which candidate can tag the other as more “out of touch” with real Americans, the Romney camp has presumably regained some ground this week.

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Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer. Email him at will.oremus@slate.com or follow him on Twitter.

Within hours of Obama’s remark Friday morning that “the private sector is doing fine,” the impressively proficient Republican National Committee had cut a new ad called "Doing Fine" to show just how out of touch the president must be. Romney himself piled on, predicting that the comment would “go down in history” as an “extraordinary miscalculation.”

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Will the eighth graders of the year 2060 read in their e-textbooks about Obama’s questionable assessment of the state of the macroeconomy on this fine June day in 2012? That’s up to the historians of the future, of course. I would only humbly submit the following observation: If they’re searching retrospectively for a “tipping point” that proved, finally and definitively, that the losing candidate was out of touch with the American public, they will have plenty of options, no matter who wins. Here are just a few. Consider this, if you like, a handy appendix to Dickerson’s story, which is well worth reading if you haven’t already.

Tipping point: Jan. 20, 2009
Person who’s out of touch:
Obama
Evidence:
He moved into the White House.
What it proves:
"Years of flying around on Air Force One, surrounded by an adoring staff of true believers telling you what a great job you are doing, well, that might be enough to make you a little out of touch." –Mitt Romney
Candidate’s retort:
"When we travel, we got to travel through Secret Service, and Air Force One, that's not my choice."

Tipping point: Jan. 9, 2012
Person who’s out of touch:
Romney
Evidence:
He likes being able to fire people.
What it proves:
“It may be that he’s slightly out of touch with the economic reality playing out in America right now.” –John Huntsman
Candidate’s retort:
“Things can always be taken out of context.”

Tipping point: Feb. 24, 2012
Person who’s out of touch:
Romney
Evidence:
His wife Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs.
What it proves:
“Though they may be made in Michigan, owning two of the pricey cars… will only reinforce the image that he’s out of touch with working-class Americans.”—Politico’s Reid Epstein
Candidate’s retort:
“If people think that there is something wrong for being successful, they should vote for the other guy.”

Tipping point: Feb. 26, 2012
Person who’s out of touch
: Romney
Evidence
: He has friends who own NASCAR teams.
What it proves
: “This is just the latest example of how out of touch Mitt Romney is from the average American experience.” –DNC press secretary Melanie Roussell
Candidate’s retort
: "I can't be perfect. I just am who I am."

Tipping point: June 8, 2012
Person who’s out of touch
: Obama
Evidence
: He thinks the private sector is doing fine.
What it proves
: “Is he really that out of touch? I think he’s defining what it means to be detached and out of touch with the American people. Has there ever been an American president who is so far from reality…?” –Mitt Romney
Candidate’s retort
: “It is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine. That's why I had a press conference."

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer. Email him at will.oremus@slate.com or follow him on Twitter.