Romney: elected office is for the rich

About 10 hours after last night’s debate, the six Republican presidential candidates met again this morning for another debate, this time sponsored by NBC and Facebook.

This one was far livelier than its predecessor — maybe the GOP field is made up for morning people? — and one line in particular jumped out early on: Mitt Romney made the case that electoral politics is for wealthy people.

“I happened to see my dad run for governor when he was 54 years old,” Romney said. “He had good advice to me. He said never get involved in politics if you have to win election to pay a mortgage. If you find yourself in a position when you can serve, you ought to have a responsibility to do so if you think you can make a difference, and don’t get involved in politics when your kids are still young because it may turn their heads.”

It’s an odd line for a candidate regularly accused of out-of-touch elitism. Only those who already have considerable wealth should “get involved in politics”? Really?

Here’s the follow-up question: if there’s some blue-collar worker in Ohio, who cares about public service and is thinking about asking his neighbors for their vote, should he or she stand aside and allow some rich person to “get involved in politics” instead?

Indeed, Ben Smith noted the exchange “brought out Romney at his most tone-deaf, and echoed his offer of a $10,000 bet to Rick Perry in an earlier debate.”

I rather doubt this was a planned line; Romney probably just said what was on his mind. It’s why “just be yourself” probably isn’t good advice for this guy.