Political Animal


November 22, 2011 8:35 AM Romney offers a hint of what’s to come

By Steve Benen

With just six weeks until Republican voters in Iowa head to their presidential caucuses, Mitt Romney is launching his first television ad of the year. Usually, a candidate’s first commercial is a positive, biographical ad, offering a look at his or her background.

The former governor is going a different route.

Mitt Romney’s first television commercial of his second bid for the Republican presidential nomination hits the airwaves Tuesday, but the ad is already creating a controversy.

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee are both slamming the 60-second spot, saying it takes comments made on the campaign trail in 2008 by then-Sen. Obama out of context.

In October 2008, a month before the president was elected, then-candidate Obama spoke in New Hampshire and told voters, “Senator McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, ‘If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.’”

In Romney’s new attack ad, viewers only see Obama saying, “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” The obvious point is to deceive the public — Romney wants voters to think the quote reflects Obama’s current thinking, not McCain’s three years ago.

Romney, in other words, is choosing to mislead voters and hoping they don’t know the difference.

The same ad, by the way, expresses concern for “record foreclosures,” which is a bizarre line for the Republican to take — he’s the one who recently demanded, “Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.”

In the larger context, how much more deception can Romney try to get away with before he develops a reputation as a candidate with an honesty problem? Last week, an MIT economist who worked with Romney said the former governor is “just lying” about health care policy. The same week, Romney was caught lying about the makeup of the last Congress, and also got caught lying about a quote from the president.

Three weeks ago, the former governor got caught lying about his tax plan, and several times over the last few months, Romney has also been caught lying about economic conditions and whether the president “apologized for America” (he didn’t).

Over the course of a campaign, it stands to reason a candidate who speaks all the time is going to make some mistakes. He or she will invariably also make occasional claims that aren’t supported by the facts. But it seems as if Mitt Romney, when he’s not wildly flip-flopping or avoiding taking firm positions on controversial issues, is frequently just flat-out lying. These aren’t minor slip-ups; these are examples of a candidate who looks more like a con man than a leader.

Romney is taking a huge risk playing this game. He’s already the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, and the political world is starting to solidify its take on his personality. The more the former governor is caught deceiving the public, the more questions about his character will be unavoidable.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • c u n d gulag on November 22, 2011 8:39 AM:

    "Romney, in other words, is choosing to mislead voters and hoping they dont know the difference."

    And with our MSM, that's probably about the safest bet you could make.

    Now, the problem is getting your bookie to take that bet.

  • j on November 22, 2011 8:40 AM:

    This overblown liar is also trying now to be hawkish and pretend that he is for the military, a military he avoided like the plague during Viet Nam when he fled to France to get out of the draft.

  • RepublicanPointOfView on November 22, 2011 8:48 AM:

    The more the former governor is caught deceiving the public, the more questions about his character will be unavoidable.

    I call BullShit on this! Our corporately owned media will assure that the Amerikkkan Sheeple will not learn of the flip-flops and lies of our man Mittens. Mittens is the candidate of the corporations and the wealthy. He is one of us and will work to achieve our agendas. Therefore, informing the publik of the truth about Mitt will not happen.

    Indeed, on the early morning liberal national corporate news (NBC) today, Mitt's advertisement was discussed as some democrats say that it was inaccurate. Behold, the truth shall never parse the lips of our highly paid news teleprompter readers!

  • RC on November 22, 2011 9:01 AM:

    It's not just that Romney is lying by distorting Obama's words.

    Another problem with If we keep talking about the economy, were going to lose quote is that Obama IS talking about the economy. Obama has been, and will increasingly be, focused on taking, and pushing Congress, for specific actions to improve the economy.

    Romney is trying to make 2 points: (a) the economy sucks and (b) Obama is avoiding the issue. He would have been better off sticking to (a), but he hurts his own credibility by over-reaching to (b) which is not credible.

  • Kiweagle on November 22, 2011 9:04 AM:

    Not even a week goes by after Perry comes out with his ad using an out-of-context Obama quote on laziness and Mittens does exactly the same thing. Gosh, could this be just a coincidence?

    Rove did this to Gore and Bush won. Rove did this to Kerry and Bush won. Rove did it in 2010 and the GOP gained the majority in congress. Rove is doing it now with blatantly false claims in his ads and shows no signs of stopping.

    The question I'd like to ask is why the GOP believes their platform is superior to that of the Dems if they have to lie about everything in order to get elected.

  • T-Rex on November 22, 2011 9:04 AM:

    But he won't get caught, because no one will challenge him. The "liberal" media will treat every lie as a statement of opinion, and give it the "One side says -- the other side says" treatment. That's what passes for "balance."

  • r on November 22, 2011 9:12 AM:

    Um, Steve -- how will being known as a bald-faced liar hurt with the R base? It will only help. As the point has been made already, lying works.

  • Danp on November 22, 2011 9:13 AM:

    The only thing Republicans care about is can he win? This gaffe is so transparent, that even if the media doesn't cover it, he looks like a fool. I suspect a lot of Republican insiders are begging some little known governor or mayor to step in and rescue the party.

  • Equal Opportunity Cynic on November 22, 2011 9:14 AM:

    Even for scum, that's scummy.

  • flyonthewall on November 22, 2011 9:16 AM:

    The DNC or some dem superpac needs to run an add with McCain saying what they put into Obama's mouth, then the full quote from Obama, and then followed by Mittens is lying.

  • Equal Opportunity Cynic on November 22, 2011 9:23 AM:

    Yep. A Dem astroturf org needs to run an ad, entitled "Mitt's Lying", like this:

    - couple of policy switch comparison videos of Mitt.
    - scornful voice-over: "Mitt, we know YOU don't believe anything, but that's no reason to lie about the President's words."
    - don't even bother explaining the lie. Just find some editorial about how dishonest the ad is and quote that.
    - scornful voice again: "Mitt, why do you have to lie?" On-screen words: "WHY DO YOU HAVE TO LIE?"

    Just attack him as a man of no substance. It doesn't even matter whether the examples themselves hold up (which they do), just jump on him.

    Dems always seem to think stuff like this will get them blamed, but it's already going to be a highly negative election. Embrace it. Run with ti.

  • Kiweagle on November 22, 2011 9:24 AM:

    @flyonthewall on November 22, 2011 9:16 AM:

    But therein lies the rub, do you spend what limited funds you have correcting the record, or on promoting your own agenda and the ways you're going to move America forward?

    I do agree with you that it would help show how pathetic the opposition is, but where do you start when Rove and every GOP presidential candidate is doing the exact same thing, but with different lies?

  • MattF on November 22, 2011 9:26 AM:

    This is pretty interesting-- flat-out lying is not what I would have expected from Romney. Live and learn.

  • flyonthewall on November 22, 2011 9:34 AM:


    According to the latest FEC filings, Obama has raised $86.2 million and all the repubs combined have raised $90.3 million. The funds are there for Obama to do it on his own. Steve has posted that the DNC has out raised repubs too, so it's not a question of funding, it's a question of how to deal with the lies.

    Someone enlighten us of the website Obama has set up to fight the lies. Last round it was fightthesmears.com.

  • kevo on November 22, 2011 9:35 AM:

    With such duplicity, there may be a pox upon the House of American Democracy!

    One thing the Occupy movement is showing us is how closely our government has begun to resemble the House of Usher!

    Seems Mitt doesn't mind the curse! -Kevo

  • flyonthewall on November 22, 2011 9:42 AM:

    Never mind, I found the website. Obama For America has already responded to Mittens.


  • Twerp on November 22, 2011 10:06 AM:

    Until we get a Constitutional amendment saying money isn't speech and corporations aren't people, we have to play by their rules. We have plenty of material showing Mitt saying let the foreclosures happen, don't rescue GM, etc. Two can play this game. It makes me sad for America.

  • Robert on November 22, 2011 10:30 AM:

    Of course Romney is "lying" Steve, he is trying to show his Party that he is a member in good standing!

  • Anonymous on November 22, 2011 11:27 AM:

    "Hes already the frontrunner for the GOP nomination"

    I was going to say that would be true if it were up to Republican establishment, but I think the only sense in which Romney is the front runner is "conventional wisdom." Republicans seem to have overturned that cart.

  • T2 on November 22, 2011 11:45 AM:

    "Hes already the frontrunner for the GOP nomination" uh, no, he's not. Gingrich is.

  • Zorro on November 22, 2011 2:40 PM:

    But it seems as if Mitt Romney, when hes not wildly flip-flopping or avoiding taking firm positions on controversial issues, is frequently just flat-out lying.

    There you are, ladies and gentlemen, the next President of these United States!

    G-d help us all,

  • ManOhMan on November 22, 2011 8:16 PM:

    Romney maybe a Mormon, but with sooo many lies under his belt, he surly is not Christ-like.

  • Paddy on November 23, 2011 6:11 PM:

    No, wait, grasshoppers, leave Mittens alone and even treat him as a respectful statesman until he secures the Repug nomination.

    Then, and only then, go after him like he's a rabid dog with ebola. He's just creating the ammo cache for us now. Don't disturb his good work.