Lesson (too late) for Romney: Always thank the servers

47 percent

HuffPost has been talking to the bartender who shot the infamous “47 percent” footage that did so much to undermine Mitt Romney last year.

Here’s what he said about how it happened:

The man, who tended bar for a company that catered to a high-end clientele, had previously worked at a fundraiser at a home where [Bill] Clinton spoke. After Clinton addressed guests, the man recalled, the former president came back to the kitchen and thanked the staff, the waiters, the bartenders, the busboys, and everyone else involved in putting the event together. He shook hands, took photos, signed autographs, and praised the meal—all characteristic of the former president.

When the bartender learned he would be working at Romney’s fundraiser, his first thought was to bring his camera, in case he had a chance to get a photo with the presidential candidate. Romney, of course, did not speak to any of the staff, bussers or waiters. He was late to the event, and rushed out. He told his dinner guests that the event was off the record, but never bothered to repeat the admonition to the people working there.

One of them had brought along a Canon camera. He set it on the bar and hit the record button.

The bartender said he never planned to distribute the video. But after Romney spoke, the man said he felt he had no choice.

“I felt it was a civic duty. I couldn’t sleep after I watched it,” he said. “I felt like I had a duty to expose it.”

As Huffington suggests, Obama owes Clinton on this one…

39 thoughts on “Lesson (too late) for Romney: Always thank the servers

  1. JesseS

    Can’t say I blame the guy. Romney was always on a mission to see if he could make you lose faith in him.

    1. Steve Gordy

      Anyone who is running for President ought to remember that the only time he (or she) is off camera is when they’re alone with their family.

  2. bud

    He is a great American hero who may have saved us from Plutocrat Hell. He’ll be on the Ed Shultz show tonight and will reveal his full identity.

    1. Steven Davis II

      I wonder if he’ll go full Ed and start screaming about how he’s “Going to burn this F’er to the ground” and then storm off?

  3. bud

    Jimmy Carter’s grandson played a roll in making this video public. Young Carter was so incensed about Romney’s constant belittling of his grandfather than when the video came to light he was more than willing to help make it public.

    1. Silence

      Who among us has not belittled Jimmy Carter, our worst modern-day president and outspoken anti-Semite?

    2. barry

      Bill Clinton has belittled Jimmy Carter more than anyone save for maybe (and it would be close) – Rush Limbaugh.

  4. Steven Davis II

    Clinton likely went into the kitchen to see if he could find the chubby young hostess working at the restaurant.

  5. bud

    His name is Scott Prouty and what really caught his attention about the speech was Romney’s comments about a small appliance factory in China that was probably engaging in abusive labor practices including barbed wire fencing to keep the workers on the premesis. The existence of this factory may have been engineered by Bain Capital as a means of cutting labor costs by outsourcing American jobs to one of these Asian sweat shops. The fact that Romney knew so much about the factory strongly suggests he was involved somehow in what was going on there. If proven this would demonstrate that Romney’s wealth was created by less than honorable means.

    1. Steven Davis II

      Well aren’t you just a regular Columbo. How much of your case is speculation and how much is fact? Likely 100% – 0%.

      Since you’re bringing up ethical situations, how much of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s wealth was “earned” through reputable means?

    2. Bart

      Hatred and a vivid imagination can certainly go a long way to create a scenario to villify a political enemy, can’t it bud? You damn well used yours to rise to a new level of hurling unfounded allegations. Damn, I’m aware of human sex-slave trafficing in some countries. Does the fact that I am aware of its existence make me a trafficker or someone who profits in sex-slave trading?

      Better check under your bed again, Romney may have his henchmen hiding under it to whisk you off to a work farm in a third world country so he can make a profit.

  6. bud

    Who among us has not belittled Jimmy Carter, our worst modern-day president and outspoken anti-Semite?

    As they say opinions are like, well you know. Fact is Carter engineered a successful peace treaty between Israel and Egypt that has greatly benefited both nations. Not sure how that translates into anti-Semitism. Give me Carter over the horror of George W. Bush any day.

  7. bud

    This whole “ranking the presidents” discussion really is fascinating. I suppose much of it depends on one’s political philosophy. But there are also some pretty objective, measurable standards. One of those is job creation or lack thereof. Clinton and Reagan did a very good job of creating jobs. Carter was not great but not as bad as his detractors would have you believe. Obama has been only fair so far but with 3 years to go he could end up with decent showing. As for Dubya, he was the worst since Herbert Hoover. Given the fact that his party controlled congress much of the time he was in office it’s really hard to blame anything but his policies. So I would rate the recent presidents on that standard as follows:

    Clinton A+
    Reagan A
    Carter C-
    Bush Sr. D
    Dubya F
    Obama – Incomplete but probably about a B- for now.

    1. Bart

      Hold the presses NYT!!! bud has ranked the presidents!!! No way it can’t be a front page item. Fairly certain Brad would have made it the lede when he was at the State.

  8. Karen McLeod

    I don’t think it wise, nor fair, to accuse Mr. Romney of such reprehensible behavior unless I had proof. We need more honesty in our politics, and much, much less speculation and downright distortion.

  9. barry

    Not sure I buy the story of the bartender wanting a photo with Romney and then recordiung what was a private conversation with fundraisers.

    I’ve met politicians. I even worked at the state house when I was in college. A few times I did bring my camera and tool some pictures. It never occurred to me to bring a recorder and record conversations that i heard when I worked there – without those folks knowing I was recording their conversation. Maybe the thought of that just creeped me out too much.

    1. Mark Stewart

      Barry, there is this thing called the evolution of technology. What was once difficult is now easy; just look at all the zealots, on both sides, who try to stage reactions/confrontations with candidates to get the salacious imagery and words to spread across the internet. We should condemn all of them.

      Here, you had a guy who simply recorded what went on quietly and from a distance. Nothing was lobbed at Romney for him to fumble over – this was all Romney.

      And, yeah, it is a creepy thought that it is so easy to catch these moments for posterity. That is something that should worry us all – especially everyone with children. It is going to take a decade, at least, for people to reach a consensus of what is appropriate/not appropriate in the era of private surveillance.

      1. barry


        It hasn’t been hard to record a coversation in the past 30 years. It would have been quite easy for me to slip a recorder into my sportcoat jacket when i worked at the statehouse. Oh what fun that could have been. But again, that’s creepy to me. I’ve never been one to want to record private conversations-. Call me “weird” I know.

        Just call me a “doubter” in the story of a simple bartender bringing his camera so he could get his picture taken with a presidential candidate but instead putting his camera on the bar and recording an entire speech – just for the fun of it.

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          Not a camera or a voice recorder…a phone with those capabilities. Smething you carry everywhere. I can easily imagine folks like, say, Brad, recording Romney for posterity or brags. Sort of a video version of an autograph or a photo of yourself with a celebrity or VIP….

        2. Scout

          It doesn’t seem that weird to me. I made tape recordings of the Pope speaking on the horseshoe way back whenever that was that he came when I was a student. It took pre-planning then but it doesn’t now that recording devices are built into phones that we have with us anyway most likely. I can see how in the moment it might suddenly occur to someone that they are in the presence of a national figure who might become president and that they have the capability to make a record of it and so they spontaneously do so. It’s not ridiculous, to me at least.

          1. barry

            When I worked at the state house I was invited to a Bill Clinton function when he was in town and starting to run for PResident. He was over an hour late, spoke, shook a few hands, and left. He didn’t “shake the hands of the servers” that night.

            But again- sadly- I didn’t think to record the talk that night. My bad.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      If I were in politics, I would give oppo researchers SO much to work with. That’s because when I get rolling, in Q and A with an audience, I tend to say all sorts of things I would never write. I confide a lot in the audience, once I get comfortable with them.

      When I say I’d do that “if I were in politics,” I mean if I were the candidate. If I were working for a candidate, I’d stay on message, because I wouldn’t feel free to vary from the script. But if the only candidacy I was sinking was my own, I’m sure I’d say things that would give my staff strokes…

  10. Burl Burlingame

    I’ve seen nothing that indicates recording was banned at the Romney fundraiser. It’s a good bet some of the rich folks recorded it too on their phones, but since they agreed with the candidate…

    1. barry

      Romney told the folks there it was “off the record” – but apparently that wasn’t taken seriously by the people working there.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        To quote from the report above: “He told his dinner guests that the event was off the record, but never bothered to repeat the admonition to the people working there.”

        1. Steven Davis II

          I think it should be illegal to audio record someone without their knowledge unless it’s handed down from a judge in such cases as wire taps. Should I be able to go out to a restaurant and record the people (could be someone on this blog) at the table next to me and put it out on YouTube without their permission? The way the law reads now I have every right.

  11. Kathryn Fenner

    Yes, you have the right to record anything when you are lawfully there. No reasonable expectation of privacy.

    1. Steven Davis II

      So I can audio record a personal conversation between you and your husband without either of your consent and post it online without fear of being sued… isn’t there something wrong about that?

    1. Silence

      Rebroadcast is prohibited without the expressed, written consent of Major League Baseball…

    2. Steven Davis II

      Well then Brad, watch what you say at Yesterdays, someone may be listening and recording. Just what FitsNews needs to boost his ratings.

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