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InterNations
eyes on the U.S.

A Gaffe Or Glimpse Of The Real Mitt? Romney Stands By 47 Percent Remark

NEW YORK TIMES, WASHINGTON POST, MOTHER JONES (US), FINANCIAL TIMES (UK)

Mitt Romney's campaign team hastily scrambled together a press conference late Monday night to respond to a leaked video, in which the Republican candidate labels 47% of Americans as "people who pay no income tax" and are "dependent upon government."

Romney said he stands by the comments made in the video, verifying the authenticity, although he admits they "were not elegantly stated" and that he was "speaking off the cuff."

The secretly filmed footage of Romney, speaking at a closed-door fundraising dinner earlier this year, was first released on Monday by liberal magazine Mother Jones.

In the video, Romney speaks of the 47% of Americans who he believes will vote for Obama in November "no matter what." Answering a question on taxes, he remarked that Republican policies do not connect with this section of the electorate: “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

The New York Times reported that the White House was quick to condemn the remarks, citing President Obama as saying Romney had "disdainfully written off half the nation."

The video's release was yet another blow for Romney's presidential campaign, after a summer marked by political blunders, prompting the Washington Post to label the affair "Mitt Romney's darkest hour."

Mitt Romney, the guy who pays no taxes on millions of dollars thinks you're a welfare freeloader. God Bless 47% of America! #RomneyEncore

— Chris Rock (@chrisrockoz) September 18, 2012

Of course, Romney insulting half the electorate might not do any damage - everybody will think he's a talking about somebody else.

— Tom Phillips (@flashboy) September 18, 2012

If Romney is such a business genius, why is it every time he says a number, he gets it wrong?

— GailSimone (@GailSimone) September 18, 2012

Edward Luce, writing in the Financial Times, similarly observed that there might have been one too many gaffes for Romney to appeal to voters: "If the 2012 election were an Aaron Sorkin drama, the producer would be accused of caricaturing the plutocrat in the race...There are now fewer than fifty old-fashioned 24-hour news cycles before polling day, which is vanishingly few for Mr. Romney to retrieve his fraying public persona."

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Society

For Seniors, Friendship May Be More Important Than Family

Even if the aging and elderly tend to wind up confined to family circles, Argentine academics Laura Belli and Danila Suárez explore the often untapped benefits of friendship in our later years.

Photograph of two elderly women and an elderly man walking arm in arm. Behind the, there are adverts for famous football players.

Two elderly women and a man walk arm in arm

Philippe Leone/Unsplash
Laura F. Belli and Danila Suárez Tomé

Updated Dec. 10, 2023 at 10:10 p.m.

BUENOS AIRES — What kind of friendship do people most talk about? Most often it is childhood or teenage friendships, while friendships between men and women are repeatedly analyzed. What about friendships among the elderly? How are they affected when friends disappear, at a stage when grieving is already more frequent?

Argentines Laura Belli and Danila Suárez Tomé, two friends with PhDs in philosophy, explore the challenges and benefits of friendship in their book Filosofía de la amistad (Friendship Philosophy).

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They consider how friendships can emerge later in life, in profoundly altered circumstances from those of our youth, with people living through events like retirement, widowhood, reduced autonomy or to a greater or lesser degree, personal deterioration. All these can affect older people's ability to form and keep friendships, even if changes happen at any stage in life.

Filosofía de la amistadexplores the place of friendships amid daunting changes. These are not just the result of ageing itself but also of how one is perceived, nor will they affect everyone exactly the same way. Aging has firstly become a far more diverse experience, with increasing lifespans and better healthcare everywhere, and despite an inevitable restriction in life opportunities, a good many seniors enjoy far greater freedom and life choices than before.

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