Ten words uttered within the context of an American presidential debate are not to be taken lightly. In the case of Mitt Romney’s comment about Spain, spoken during his first debate with President Obama, the ripple effects are being felt and expressed by every media outlet in the country, and touch on political, economic and cultural issues.
In an article headlined A President Romney Will Come to Regret Damaging Remark about Our Nation, El Pais columnist Antonio Cano writes that by disparaging Spain at the crest of its worst modern crisis, Romney has not only damaged Spain’s reputation among global investors, he has likely poisoned any future relations he may need to have with the country as president of the United States.
“If he wins this election and becomes president of the United States, how will he manage his relationship with Spain, a member of NATO, a territory with strategically-important American military bases, and a first-rate ally of the United States? If Romney is made president, the phrase ‘I don’t want to go down the path to Spain,’ delivered at the worst moment in Spain’s recent history, will haunt him whenever he needs to come in contact with our country.”
In an article headlined Romney Lies About Government Expenditures in U.S. and Spain, El Mundo columnist Pablo Pardo cites IMF statistics to demonstrate not only that under presidents Clinton and Bush, the percentage of GDP used for U.S. government expenditures almost mirrored Spain’s, but that under President Obama, America is cutting such spending faster than Spain is.
“The United States has always spent between one and three percentage points less than Spain on the state, and that hasn’t changed … under Obama, the U.S. is cutting government spending at a faster rate than Spain, and according to the IMF, this year the margin will again be less than it was in Bush’s last budget. … In fact, the cost of financing U.S. government debt has fallen since Standard and Poor’s downgraded America’s debt rating.”
In a news item headlined After Romney Comment, Spain Asserts it has ‘Little to Envy’ in Regard to the American People, El Semanal quotes the nation’s deputy prime minister, Monsyer Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, as saying in part:
“This is a country too big not to be better understood by some. But don’t you worry, we will try to explain it to them. … I think we have very little to envy when it comes to other peoples, and that includes the Americans. … And by the way, we are also very proud of our welfare state.
And finally, in an article headlined Mitt Romney and Spain: Is Ours a Failing Brand?, El Pais columnist Antonio Estella wonders aloud about why Romney would cite Spain as a nation in which government takes up too much of the nation’s output when there are other nations, like Sweden, Britain or Norway, where government takes up even more:
“Romney could have used other examples, but he didn’t; he gave the example of Spain, and everyone seemed to understand the subliminal message behind his comment. … That Spain should be put forward as the implicit example of what a world power should not be, and that everyone understands what this elliptical reference means, should make us think … a lot.”
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