For the second straight day on Thursday, CNN emphasized Mitt Romney's wealth as a possible turn-off to voters. Correspondent Joe Johns aired a segment on Thursday's The Situation Room about "Mitt Romney-isms," or Romney's references to his own wealth and beliefs that seem to "hit the wrong note" for a presidential candidate.
"Mitt Romney the millionaire may still have some problems with the average voter, because of his tone-deaf references to his personal wealth," Gloria Borger introduced Johns' Thursday story. On the previous day, Johns had authored a story about Romney's expensive car elevator at his California mansion. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
As NewsBusters reported, NBC promoted the same story about Romney's elevator as CNN did on Wednesday. The story was reportedly first publicized by Democrats. "A source close to NBC tells us it did come from the Democratic side," reported NBC News contributor Willie Geist.
CNN host Wolf Blitzer reported that Romney was "taking some flack" over the elevator and wondered "how much of a problem potentially is this" for the candidate. "A lot of people saying two words a presidential candidate probably never wants to hear, car elevator," he asserted.
Joe Johns ran a "blooper reel" of sorts on Thursday, citing Romney's statements about his wealth and opinions that incited a media backlash. "It's hard to keep calling these things gaffes, because he does it so often," Johns insisted.
A transcript of the segments is as follows:
THE SITUATION ROOM
4:27 p.m. EDT
[HEADLINE: Romney's Rich-Guy Image: Do millionaire gaffes turn off the average guy?]
GLORIA BORGER: But while he's lining up the establishment figures, Mitt Romney the millionaire may still have some problems with the average voter, because of his tone-deaf references to his personal wealth. CNN's senior correspondent Joe Johns is with us. Joe, what about that?
JOE JOHNS, CNN correspondent: Well Gloria, this is not his first rodeo. It's actually the second time Mitt Romney's run for president, which sometimes makes it hard to understand why he's repeatedly getting hit for saying things that are either off-message or inartful.
JOHNS: (voice-over) Call them Mitt Romney-isms.
MITT ROMNEY, Republican presidential candidate: You don't think it affects everyb – ya'll on a – you all on a direct basis?
JOHNS: When he says something that seems to hit the wrong note for a guy who is running for president.
ROMNEY: I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.
JOHNS: It's hard to keep calling these things gaffes, because he does it so often.
ROMNEY: I like being able to fire people.
Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually.
JOHNS: Especially when he says things that seem to tell us something about the way he thinks.
HOWARD KURTZ, host, CNN's Reliable Sources: The danger for Romney is that his own gaffes are feeding a media narrative that he's not just wealthy, but kind of clueless and out-of-touch with ordinary Americans. Once that becomes cemented, it is very hard to erase, like an etch-a-sketch.
(End Video Clip)
THE SITUATION ROOM
4:33 p.m. EDT
[HEADLINE: Romney: Another Millionaire Moment? Takes heat over planned elevator for his cars]
BLITZER: And as he says it may be another millionaire moment for Mitt Romney. He's taking some flack over word that he's renovating one of his houses and adding an elevator for his cars. Our senior correspondent Joe Johns is here. Give us some context. What's going on here, John?
JOE JOHNS, CNN senior correspondent: Well, Wolf, as you know, Mitt Romney has said he's been very successful and he's not apologizing for it and frankly, nobody's asking him to, really. The only thing you can say about the plans for his new house on the west coast is wow!
JOHNS (voice-over): Mitt Romney's reputation as Mr. Moneybags just stepped up a notch with the latest reports about the big upgrade on his beach house south of upscale and amazingly beautiful La Jolla, California near San Diego.
It goes all of the way back to 2010. As first reported by a San Diego newspaper, Romney puts in renovation plans basically to raze his already multi-million dollar house that's only about 3,000 square feet and replace it with an 8,000 square foot house with a gigantic basement. One of the distinguishing features, according to Politico, which broke the story nationally, a four-car garage with an elevator for the cars.
JOHNS: A project so complex, San Diego City records show Mitt Romney hired a lobbyist in 2010 to push it through the permitting process. But La Cava makes the point that for people who have the money to live out on this part of a coast, this kind of a renovation is actually no big deal.
LA CAVA: What is remarkable is how unremarkable the application and proposal was.
JOHNS: Romney has gotten some bad publicity because of how rich it makes him look, like when he talked about how his wife drives two Cadillacs.
BLITZER: A lot of people are saying two words a presidential candidate probably never wants to hear, car elevator. How much of a problem potentially is this for Mitt Romney?