It’s been widely reported that Mitt Romney handed a woman some cash to help her out as he worked a rope line in South Carolina.

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I’m all in favor of helping people in need, but when a politician does it publicly during a campaign, it raises an authenticity issue.

Was it truly spontaneous or a set up?  Romney easliy could have had someone quietly help the woman out in a meaningful way, not by slipping her some bills in a manner designed to receive press coverage.

Hinterland Gazette suggests set-up:

Excuse me if I am a skeptic, but how did Mitt Romney know to give this woman money? Did she ask him for money as she waited to shake his hand? Was this a campaign stunt to show that he really cares about the little people? The woman said since she has been volunteering at Romney’s campaign office since meeting his bus last week, cleaning and doing other things, ABC News reports. So, I guess that $50 or $60 dollars he reportedly gave her was to pay for her work. Don’t be fooled people. This didn’t come from a place of compassion but a photo op.

Even if genuine, what message does it send?  Compassion, perhaps.

But the reported $50-60 cash, plus payment of an electric bill, isn’t going to change the woman’s life for long.  When a politician doles out cash in such a public manner, doesn’t it send a mixed public message?