Romney = Money
In 2012, this photo went viral. The photograph depicts former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney with supporters who were supposed to spell his last name with their shirts - but erroneously (and ironically) spelled out the word "Money" instead. Someone magically caught it on film.
However, according to www.snopes.com, the image was a fake. This is the original, undoctored image. It came from the Associated Press, which ran the photograph on Feb. 3, 2012. It originally ran with this caption:
"Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, poses for a photo with the Fisher family backstage prior to a campaign rally in Elko, Nev., Friday, Feb. 3, 2012. Campaigning throughout Nevada on Friday, Romney sought to convince weary voters that he alone had the prescriptions for what ails the country, even as the government reported that a quarter-million Americans streamed back into the work force in January."
The internet quickly got a hold of it and capitalized on an opportunity to passive-aggressively depict Romney as what many Americans thought of him, as a "wealthy, unsympathetic candidate."
Several websites ran with the altered image, some even forgoing the obvious "Romney is evil" storyline and electing to describe it as a "lighthearted moment" or as a funny "Freudian slip."
Other websites used it as a platform to talk about how greedy and capitalistic the Republican nominee was. The person who created the photo, Dave Allsopp, is a co-founder of a left-leaning community - Democratic Underground - had similar sentiments. In a quote issued to several publications, he had this to say:
"I happened to stumble across the original photo of Romney with the children while I was searching for inspiration," he said. "I'd seen a few Democratic Underground members referring to Romney as 'RMoney' for obvious reasons, and it just hit me."
Influential conservative blogger Erick Erickson of Red State originally retweeted the doctored image saying "Why oh why did Mitt Romney pose for this picture." He sent out a subsequent tweet a short while later making an interesting point: "The Romney photo was photo-shopped but it speaks volumes that so many on the right weren't surprised assuming it was real."
So why did so many people think it was real?
Maybe in part because the above picture exists - and it's 100 percent real. It captures an image of unbridled greed and money lust that Romney's opponents labored so hard to affix to him. It shows him much younger, grinning devilishly and surrounded by Bain colleagues, as money bursts forth from their suits, their pockets, their collars, their mouths, and in Romney's case, from behind his ears.
Or maybe because the above video existed, which shows Romney telling a small group of wealthy contributors what he truly thinks of the voters who supported his challenger, President Barack Obama:
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it -- that that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. ... These are people who pay no income tax. ... [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
Romney was also quoted making several other ill-conceived quotes, including:
"I went to a number of women's groups and said 'Can you help us find folks?' and they brought us whole binders full of women." —On staffing his cabinet while he was governor of Massachusetts, presidential debate, Oct. 16, 2012
"I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there." —Mitt Romney (January 2012)
"I like being able to fire people who provide services to me." –Using an unfortunate choice of words while advocating for consumer choice in health insurance plans (January 2012)
Additionally, the knowledge that Romney has a net worth estimated to be (in his own words) "between $150 and about $200-and-some-odd million dollars" didn't help. CNBC even rated him third on their list of "10 Richest US Presidential Candidates behind Steve Forbes and Ross Perot. Newt Gingrich went as far as to label Romney a "rich guy incapable of connecting with working class Americans."
The doctored photograph depicts that image so many portrayed him to be. Perhaps that's why it was believed by so many and travelled so far throughout the world. Allsop, the image's creator, commented on that, saying:
"I never tried to pretend that the original 'RMoney' image was real, and acknowledged that it was faked shortly after I posted it," he said. "But I understand that since then people have been confused as to whether it is real or not. As I said, that's probably the main reason why it has spread so far."