In his speech yesterday to the Republican Jewish Coalition, Mitt Romney sometimes sounded like Newt Gingrich.
For decades, Gingrich has repeatedly quoted the Declaration, explaining the meaning of "the pursuit of happiness.
GINGRICH: In a sense America is about freedom and I think it's best captured by the Declaration of Independence: we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights: among those are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. ... And then notice the words: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It's an active open sense of who we are. There's no sense of happiness stamps, happiness entitlements, the federal department of happiness ("Renewing American Civilization," TV lecture, January 14, 1995).ROMNEY: One of these principles is a merit-based society. In a merit-based society, people achieve success and rewards through hard work, education, risk taking, and even a little luck. The founders considered this principle to be one endowed by our Creator, and called it the "pursuit of happiness." We call it opportunity, or we call it the freedom to choose our course in life.
"The opportunity society" is one of Gingrich's signature phrases, providing the theme to Gingrich's first book, Window of Opportunity as well as the name of Gingrich's faction in the House, the Conservative Opportunity Society.
GINGRICH: The opportunity society is gambling that the chance to have your child be an astronaut or a computer programmer is more powerful than the chance to get 8 percent more in food stamps next year. Our goal is to abolish poverty by helping everyone become productive, not to keep everyone now in poverty quiet by making it tolerable (Window of Opportunity, 1984, p. 133).
ROMNEY: A merit-based, opportunity society gathers and creates a citizenry that pioneers, that invents, that builds and creates. And as these people exert the effort and take the risks inherent in invention and creation, they employ and lift the rest of us, creating prosperity for us all. The rewards they earn do not make the rest of us poorer, they make us better off.
Gingrich has said that President Obama does not understand America or its economy.
GINGRICH: [T]he Obama administration doesn't understand America, that they don't understand how the American people feel (Fox News interview, July 9, 2010).
GINGRICH:[Y]ou have a president who you know doesn't understand free enterprise, he doesn't understand job creation (Fox News interview, August 24, 2011).ROMNEY: American prosperity is fully dependent upon our opportunity society. I don't think President Obama understands that. I don’t think he understands why our economy is the most successful in the world. I don't think he understands America.
Gingrich has warned that President Obama is a redistributionist.
GINGRICH: I think this is an administration dedicated to creating a very different America and an America which has huge government, massive redistribution of resources (Fox News interview, July 24, 2009).
ROMNEY: He seeks to replace our merit-based society with an entitlement society. In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people to enjoy truly disproportionate rewards are the people who do the redistributing—the government.
Romney did not, however, get the phrase "entitlement society" from Gingrich.
He got it from Herman Cain.