The Romney campaign has falsely insisted that President Obama’s campaign is running a negative campaign: “I feel like all he’s doing is saying, ‘Let’s kill this guy,’” Ann Romney told CBS news. We make no excuses for continuing to highlight Romney’s failed jobs record and extreme positions, but we’ve never engaged in personal attacks on the Governor or his family—whereas Romney himself has consistently used negative rhetoric to tear down opponents.
The reference to a “kill Romney” strategy stems from a thinly-sourced Politico story from August 2011, which anonymously quoted a supposedly Democratic strategist “aligned with the White House” who said the President’s campaign might have to go negative and “kill Romney.” This source—who, unsurprisingly, chose to remain unnamed—in no way represented the President’s campaign. As Obama for America National Press Secretary Ben LaBolt stated immediately, “Anyone purporting to hold a crystal ball for our strategy … does not speak for the campaign.”
While President Obama has run a campaign that focuses on facts and his record, Mitt Romney has repeatedly resorted to distortions, falsehoods, and political attacks in an effort to smear the President and avoid talking about his failed record. Indeed he has deployed “every tactic in the negative-campaign playbook.” Let’s review the mud Mitt Romney has slung:
Romney touted his staff’s rude heckling of the President’s campaign, saying, “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” Unfortunately, that includes such childish antics as blowing bubbles at President Obama’s advisors during a press conference and repeatedly using the campaign bus to circle Obama events and honk loudly.
Romney’s first ad of the season was panned as “misleading,” “deceptive,” “deceitful,” “untruthful,” “demonstrably false,” and “a lie.” The ad’s most devastating line—President Obama saying, ‘If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose’—was taken wildly out of context. In fact, the President uttered the line in 2008, when he was referring to something that an aide to his then-opponent, Senator John McCain of Arizona, had said in reference to the McCain campaign—not Mr. Obama. And even though Romney’s campaign admitted they took the President out of context, they argued that it was “intentional.”
Even Republicans said they’d like to see less character attacks and more policy suggestions from the Romney campaign. “The Romney campaign is tilted too heavily toward biography and not nearly enough toward ideas,” said Karl Rove. “You have to campaign to govern, not just to win,” said Gov. Mitch Daniels. And as Republican strategist Nelson Warfield noted, “It’s clear the negative ads are what’s keeping this guy alive.”
There is a marked difference between President Obama and Mitt Romney when it comes to negative campaigning. We don’t need to resort to such misleading character attacks to highlight Mitt Romney’s awful jobs record in Massachusetts or his desire to return us to the failed policies of the past. Romney, on the other hand, has made it clear time and time again that he would rather rely on baseless character attacks than engage in meaningful debate.