Really? Tagg Romney Jokes About Taking a Swing at Obama?

5 years ago

Just when you thought the presidential election couldn't get any more combative... Tagg Romney, GOP candidate Mitt Romney's 42-year old son tells a radio host that Tuesday's debate made him want to "take a swing" at Obama.

During Tuesday’s presidential town hall debate, GOP contender Mitt Romney and President Obama at times circled each other on stage, with some uncomfortably aggressive body language. And the most heated moment came when the president repeatedly cried foul on Romney's claim that the White House didn't immediately call the Benghazi attacks an act of terrorism. Bill LuMaye, a host at a North Carolina radio station, asked the younger Romney what it felt like to hear the president call his dad “a liar”. Tagg’s answer:

"Jump out of your seat and you want to rush down to the stage and take a swing at him,” Tagg said, laughing. “But you know you can’t do that because, well, first because there’s a lot of Secret Service between you and him, but also because that’s the nature of the process.”

A Romney campaign spokeswoman quickly called the remark a joke.

But at what other time can you remember someone -– much less a candidate’s son -– publicly joking about wanting to physically harm a sitting president? Tagg, the eldest of Mitt and Ann Romney's five sons, has worked as a political adviser for his dad's campaigns and was recently in the middle of a controversy surrounding an abortion clause in the contract with the surrogate mother of his twin sons.

Oct. 24, 2011 - Concord, NH - Tagg Romney (center) talks with his father, Mitt Romney, after the former Massachusetts governor filed paperwork to be included on the ballot for the New Hampshire Primary; Monday, October 24, 2011. Former New Hampshire governor John H. Sununu also endorsed Romney at the event. (Credit Image: © Alexander Cohn/Concord Monitor/

Some are calling his remarks a manifestation of white privilege, in an election cycle where dissatisfaction with the current administration often takes on racial undertones -- such as the mock lynching of empty chairs and remarks about sending Obama "back to Kenya".

After all, Mitt Romney can talk about how his father was from Mexico, but even he joked at a Michigan rally about how "nobody asks to see my birth certificate." Salon recently ran an article titled Tagg Romney, Mr. White Privilege. In it, David Sirota points out ways that both Tagg Romney's comment and the media's ho-hum reaction to it reflects society's differing standards for white and black politicians:

“Ask yourself: Would the media reaction be similarly muted if a young black male relative of Obama appeared on a radio show and publicly fantasized about violently bludgeoning Mitt Romney? No, it would be the opposite. It would be a multi-day, above-the-fold, 100-point-typeface story initially fueled by Drudge, Fox News and right-wing radio hosts.”

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What do you think about Tagg Romney’s comments?

News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs at HapaMama and A Year (Almost) Without Shopping.

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