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Although Barack Obama won, the bitter campaign divided the US. The president emerges with a tenuous mandate and an urgent domestic to-do list. Abroad, a new world order is rising from the euro crisis, the Arab Spring and emerging Asia, and US leadership will be key. In this series, GlobalPost's far-flung correspondents bring you insights into how President Obama's re-election will impact their regions.

On the road with the 2012 US election.

Obama unleashes secret campaign weapon

His name is Mitt Romney, and he seems intent on doing everything he can to help the president get re-elected.
Mitt romney 47 percent video 2012 9 19
Mitt Romney addresses supporters as he campaigns during a town hall forum at the American Legion Post 109 on March 21, 2012 in Arbutus, Maryland. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. — “Stupid and “arrogant.” “Distressingly inept.” “A self-satisfied millionaire” engaged in perpetuating a “country club fantasy.” 

Those are some of the nicer things being said about Mitt Romney these days — and by his friends on the right, no less.

The Democrats seem to realize they don't need to say much — they have found that when your opponent is intent on committing political suicide, the best thing to do is make sure he has lots of rope and then just get out of the way.

For anyone who has been visiting another planet for the past three news cycles, let me refresh your memory. The cause of all the ruckus is a clandestine video recording of a Romney fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla. in May, during which the Republican candidate managed to offend just about everybody.

He dismissed almost half the population — who he claimed are Barack Obama supporters — as irresponsible moochers with a victim complex who felt “entitled” to food, housing and health care at government expense. He insisted that the Palestinians “have no interest whatsoever in peace” and even suggested that being Latino might give him an affirmative action-style leg up on the White House.

The Obama campaign has made good use of the footage, showing it to “ordinary people,” filming their shocked, indignant or mystified reactions, and making it into a campaign ad

More from GlobalPost: Obama campaign jumps on Romney's 47 percent remark (video)

Tuesday night's "Late Show With David Letterman," the president said Romney was "writing off a big chunk of the country."

"When I won in 2008, 47 percent of the American people voted for John McCain, they didn't vote for me," Obama said. "One of the things I've learned as president is you represent the entire country."

Saturday Night Live this weekend called Romney Obama's "secret weapon."

It is hard to see how Romney can claim “personal foul” on this one, unless he is looking in the mirror.

An added dollop of irony to the story is that the video was channeled to the liberal publication Mother Jones by James Carter IV, grandson of the 39th president of the United States.

Carter freely admitted to CNN’s Anderson Cooper Tuesday evening that he took added satisfaction in socking it to the party that had said so many nasty things about former President Jimmy Carter. The younger Carter called it “poetic justice” that it had been a member of his family who had “helped to get the video that had given the Romney campaign so much trouble,” and added that his grandfather was on board with the effort.

The Republican candidate himself is standing firm. Highly criticized for flip-flopping, Romney chose an odd moment to stop backing away from positions that have proved inconvenient. But Romney called a news conference in California Monday night specifically to state that he is standing by his remarks. He did acknowledge, however, that they were “inelegantly stated.”

So I guess we will all have to wait for a more artful packaging of what all but the most partisan analysts are calling Romney’s misinformed, misguided and misanthropic diatribe.

Many of the 47 percent of people who pay no taxes are, as more than one pundit has pointed out, Republicans — seniors, soldiers, the working poor. To say, as Romney did, that they take no “personal responsibility and care for their lives” is not just incorrect, it’s downright shocking, given the candidate’s political base.

The video provided a window into Romney’s mind — and the view is far from salubrious.

His remark that “it would helpful to be Latino” has not provoked the kind of outrage one might expect, perhaps because it was submerged in such a flood of material that, so far, it has gone largely unnoticed.

More from GlobalPost: Romney courts Latinos

But in explaining his heritage, Romney pointed out that his father, George Romney, former governor of Michigan who himself ran for president in 1968, had been born in Mexico, “unfortunately … to American parents.”

“Had he been born of Mexican parents I’d have a better shot of winning this,” he joked, to raucous laughter from the crowd.

The ripples from Romney’s mess are spreading — more than one Republican Senatorial candidate quickly disengaged from the candidate’s now slippery coattails, specifically Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Linda McMahon of Connecticut.

The fracas reinforces what was apparent long ago: Almost no one really likes the Republican presidential candidate.

During the Republican primary campaign in January I was told by an astute Young Republican in Iowa that the key to victory in the presidential election was to “hold your nose and vote for Romney.”

The rest of the candidates were just not up to the task of defeating President Barack Obama, which was, he insisted, the main objective.

If Romney still has a shot at the White House — a dream that seems to be receding daily — it will be from just that crowd, provided they can pull the levers of the voting machines with their fingers clamped firmly over their nostrils.

William Kristol, the neoconservative columnist for The Weekly Standard, remains committed to a Romney victory, if only to protect the country from what he sees as the ruinous policies of the incumbent. But he does slyly suggest that it might be better for Romney to bow out and give the country “the Ryan-Rubio ticket we deserve.”

Well, at least the Republicans would then have the “Latino advantage” that Romney so blithely bragged about in Boca Raton.

At this point, they’ll need all the help they can get.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/highway-2012/obama-secret-campaign-weapon-romney-47-percent-video

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