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Misquoting Obama Is A Big Gamble for Mitt Romney

As anyone who pays much attention to politics or watches  late night TV or reads the Fact Checker portion of the paper knows, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney  is getting blasted for an ad that uses a quote from Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign (“If  we keep talking about the economy we are going to lose”) and attributes it to  President Obama.

The original ad has become a several-day news story,  resulting in  dueling TV spots, and numerous punch/counter-punch action from the   campaigns and party committees.

It plays into the narrative that Romney is prepared to say  anything  or do anything to become president. Flip flops have become one big   character flop, as have misleading ads.

But here’s the question:  is Romney willing to do anything he can  right now to engage Obama in a  one-on-one confrontation, even if he  gets criticized by the mainstream media? Is he sacrificing his rook to  get a chance at  the king?

Here is the cynical view:  the Romney campaign knew exactly what it  was doing with this ad. It focused on the one issue where Romney  seems  to have an advantage with Republican primary voters, the economy, and  it  took on the person they hate the most, Obama.  But they needed  something extra to see to it that the ad went viral and  became  controversial.

Without this quote taken out of context, edited and made to  sound as  though it was an Obama statement, the ad probably would have gone   nowhere. Ho-hum.

In my many years in campaigns I have seen the tactic over  and over  again. A candidate and his or  her consultants deliberately mislead to  get the opponent to take the bait. For example, one cynical tactic is  to  misrepresent the facts deliberately. You  accuse candidate X, who  was a prosecutor, of “plea bargaining” over 200 cases  and letting  criminals go free. So, the  number may be 120—your hope is to have an  argument over the number, thereby  “winning” the message debate. Pretty   horrendous.

My guess is that the Romney campaign knew they were going to  get  attacked for butchering the quote (they even had the full quote  mentioning  McCain in their material) but figured that they would rather  create the  firestorm with Obama and the Democrats.  It was a gamble,  to be sure.

The problem is that the DNC is staying on this and feeding  it into  the narrative of Romney’s character (along with the flip flops) and   this is probably hurting Romney even among Republicans. So, in the end, the ad is a  gamble that may not pay off,  especially if former Speaker of the House  Newt Gingrich begins to suck the oxygen out of the room in  debates and  taps into the demise of Herman Cain and Gov. Rick Perry.

By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World Report, November 29, 2011

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , | Leave a comment


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