Was Biden calling Romney a racist? A slave owner? Whatever the insinuation, Romney was very offended! Torn up inside. Could barely keep going.
It should be noted that it's kind of difficult to get voters worked up about this kind of "gaffe," since they are generally of the opinion that if you throw your hat in the ring you get what's coming to you. The trick, then, is to take the comment and try to extend it to represent a larger set of aggrieved persons, beyond just the candidate.
For example, when Hilary Rosen, a Democratic consultant, said that Ann Romney had never worked a day in her life, this wasn’t just an affront to Mrs. Romney, but, in the Romney campaign’s telling, to all stay-at-home moms. Suddenly the president's campaign found itself distancing itself from a person who wasn't speaking for him and explaining that in fact Obama had nothing but respect for devoted mothers and people who love them.
2. “Just as Bad as We Thought”
This is the statement or nugget that affirms every terrible notion about the opponent they’ve been trying to reinforce. So when Romney, whom the Obama campaign has been describing as the Monopoly Man for two years, said he likes to fire people, it was a gift they could never have anticipated.
The fact that Romney was talking not about his approach to business or his time at Bain, but his faith in the free market when it comes to health insurance, didn't matter. Nor did the full context of a quote (“I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone doesn't give me a good service that I need, I want to say, 'I'm going to go get someone else to provide that service to me'"). He was an unfeeling layoff-bot, by his own admission, and that was that.
In a similar vein, there was Obama's comment about not being able "to change Washington from the inside." Romney (who said the same thing about Washington in the past) presented it as evidence that the president had given up on accomplishing anything.
In context, of course, Obama was talking about mobilizing people outside Washington to drive an agenda. And anyway, even if Obama had given up, would he really be admitting it in public? It would be about as suicidal as, well, Romney saying he likes to fire people, and meaning it.
3. “Don't Care About Those in Harm's Way”
These gaffes are usually statements that provide opportunities for outrage on behalf of “the troops,” but can include any cavalier-sounding observations about situations in which lives have been risked or lost.
The Romney campaign executed this maneuver after Obama's "60 Minutes" interview, in which the president said that geopolitical developments in the Middle East included “bumps in the road.”
“I can’t imagine saying something like the assassination of ambassadors is a bump in the road, when you look at the entire context, the assassination, the Muslim Brotherhood president being elected in Egypt, 20,000 people killed in Syria, Iran close to becoming a nuclear nation," Romney said.