There was a moment -- maybe it's difficult to remember now -- but there was a moment back in early September when Barack Obama ran advertisement after advertisement suggesting Mitt Romney was a rapacious and perhaps soulless businessman. But the question was: Would the barrage work? Would the message stick?
And then, along came David Corn of Mother Jones, who sealed it with some damning proof of Mitt's callousness. Forty. Seven. Percent. Three words. That's all it took.
We caught up with Corn yesterday as he was about to board a plane. He had only a minute to talk. But he quickly offered some trenchant analysis on the shock that video injected into the national tenor. What it did, he said, was steal Mitt's time -- something he could never reclaim.
"You can always raise more money," he said. "But you can't raise more time."
The 47-percent controversy sucked up weeks of Mitt's campaign -- weeks he could have used to attack Obama or to show a softer Mitt or to evince something other than blind ambition. For Mitt, anything would have been better than what happened.
The 47-percent video stole Mitt's campaign for three weeks -- a full one-fifth of it -- and that was something he couldn't get back.
"If you act like the most valuable resource in a campaign is money, that's not entirely true," Corn said. "It's time. It's time. There are only an X number of days where you can do what you need to do."
And in the end, as Mitt sank into a frenzy, flying from battleground state to battleground state, his thought must have been: If only I had more time.
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