Many Spaniards did not appreciate being singled out in Wednesday night’s presidential debate.
Governor Mitt Romney portrayed Spain as synonymous with economic incompetence and described it as being overly dependent on government aid.
Anchor Marco Werman talks to The World’s Gerry Hadden to get more details.
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Marco Werman: The World’s Gerry Hadden just back from Germany with that report. Gerry, you’re now back at home base in Spain. I am curious of what you’ve heard from Spaniards about this moment in last night’s presidential debate here in the U.S.
Governor Mitt Romney: Spain spends 42 percent of their total economy on government. We’re now spending 42 percent of our economy on government. I don’t want to go down the path to Spain. I want to go down the path of growth that puts Americans to work with more money coming in because they’re working.
Werman: That, of course, was Governor Mitt Romney in last night’s presidential debate. Gerry, did folks in Spain pick up on that reference?
Gerry Hadden: Yeah, just about everybody did; from the media to the government to ordinary citizens. Reactions have ranged from anger to dismay at being the only European country mentioned last night in the entire debate and as a synonym for failure, as the daily ‘El Pais’ put it this morning. Another conservative website called ‘Digital Liberty’ said, “Not Greece nor Afghanistan” (referring to two other countries decidedly worse off than Spain). The government responded quite angrily. One of the leaders of the conservative government said that Spain is not engulfed in flames and that such comments only damage the country’s reputation. So, there’s been a lot of buzz in Spain about the very brief comment that Romney made. I think it sinks even deeper because Spain has had bragging rights, actually, for the past 4 years since candidate Obama mentioned Spain positively in the 2008 debate. He lauded its renewable energy policy. So, the comments last night were disappointing.
Werman: And Gerry, how do Spaniards feel, in general, about how they’re being depicted these days as being a synonym for failure?
Hadden: Well, it depends who you talk to. There’s a conservative government here in Spain run by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. His supporters, they are ticked off at the coverage…not only the comments by Romney but the recent press coverage I think by some of the major U.S. news outlets. There’s been a bit of a row here because the New York Times has run, in the last couple of weeks, a couple of different articles. One, criticizing the sort of path of austerity that Spain is heading down and predicting doom and gloom in the long run, and another was a photo essay of black and white images called ‘austerity and hunger’. Among the images you see a man scavenging for food in a garbage container, a family about to be evicted from their home, and so on. So, the conservatives here are saying that there’s been a bunch of selective editing going on and Spain is being unfairly portrayed as a nation on the brink of utter disaster. On the left, however, you have people saying, “Well, this is interesting because when Spain was in big trouble and the socialists were in power just a couple of years ago, the conservative press wasn’t complaining at all.” So, you have to kind of know who you are talking to or who you’re reading.
Werman: The World’s Gerry Hadden in Barcelona. Thanks as always Gerry.
Hadden: Thanks Marco.
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