Now, it goes without saying that part of an interview the morning after an important election, and during an ongoing campaign, will be devoted to horse race stuff.
But, still. O’Brien’s first question was about how Romney felt about his big win in Florida. When he replied that, obviously, he felt good, she asked—twice—how he would win over the party’s most conservative voters. Then she asked if Romney was offended that Newt Gingrich didn’t call to concede. Next, she asked if the negative tone of the campaign was costing him support among independents. Then she asked him—twice—if a protracted primary fight would hurt Romney in the general election. Then she asked if the tone of the campaign would continue to be negative. (Transcript here.)
Finally, she asked Romney how he plans to fix the fact that he “can’t connect with the people.” That’s what prompted his “not concerned about the very poor” line, uttered as Romney tried to show how he is concerned about the middle class. O’Brien, to her credit, followed up, and Romney fleshed out his answer. It would have been nice to have some further follow-up—see Thought #2 above—but they were out of time.
Even without Romney’s “gaffe,” this last exchange was by far the most substantive and newsworthy part of the interview, and it happened only because Romney took a question about a tiresome media preoccupation (whether candidates can “connect”) and used it to try to make a point about his policy priorities. If he’d actually been asked about those priorities, who knows what interesting things he might have said?