Mitt Romney tried to use his first television advertisement of his 2012 campaign to draw a stark contrast withÂ President Obama, but the adâ€™s misleading use of Obamaâ€™s words drew an immediate retort from the presidentâ€™s re-election campaign Monday night and threatened to undercut Romneyâ€™s message.
The 60-second Romney ad quoted Obama as saying, “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.”
It sounds like Obama is talking about his own chances in 2012. But it’s actually a clip of Obama mocking his 2008 opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz), for not wanting to talk about the economy in the final stretch of that election.
McCain’s response to the collapse of the financial sector in the fall of 2008 is widely cited as a contributing factor to his loss.
The full Obama quote, included in a Romney press release as part of an Oct. 16, 2008 speech at a Londonderry, N.H., campaign stop, was this: “Senator McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, ‘If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.'”
Romney aides defended the use of the quote in its 60-second ad, calling it â€śintentional.â€ť The campaign acknowledged that Obama was quoting a McCain adviser in a news release to reporters and in an e-mail to supporters sent Monday night, although the ad itself does not make that clear.
Obama’s reelection campaign spokesman Ben Labolt called the Romney ad “a deceitful and dishonest attack.”
“While the President brought us back from the brink of another depression and is fighting everyday to restore economic security for the middle class, Mitt Romney opposes the President’s plan to create 2 million jobs and instead proposes a return to the same economic policies that led to the recession,” Labolt said.
“Three years ago, candidate Barack Obama mocked his opponent’s campaign for saying ‘if we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose,'” wrote Romney’s communications director Gail Gitcho. “Now, President Obama’s campaign is desperate not to talk about the economy. Their strategy is to wage a personal campaign — or ‘kill Romney.’ It is a campaign of distraction.”
In an interview broadcast Monday night with Sean Hannity of Fox News, Mr. Romney offered a preview of his ad.
â€śWell, I want people to remember that when he was Candidate Obama, that he said he was going to get this economy going, he was going to bring people together, be a real leader for change in America,â€ť Mr. Romney said in the interview, which was taped Sunday.
â€śAnd so Iâ€™m going to run an ad that shows him and the things he said here in New Hampshire in a speech here. The contrast between what he said and what he did is so stark, people will recognize we really do need to have someone new lead this country. And then I, of course, described why Iâ€™m the right person for that responsibility.â€ť
Mr. Romney added that Mr. Obama had failed to deliver the economic recovery he promised while campaigning in the state four years ago.
â€śHeâ€™s going to be back in New Hampshire tomorrow; Iâ€™d like to hear what he has to say,â€ť Mr. Romney said. â€śMy guess is he wonâ€™t be reminding people of what he said four years ago. Heâ€™ll be trying to talk about something else, because itâ€™s very clear weâ€™re not better off than we were when he came into office.â€ť
By focusing his message on the president, Mr. Romney is trying to show Republicans that he can take on Mr. Obama aggressively, an attribute that conservatives are seeking in a nominee.
But there is also a risk in getting ahead of himself, especially with polls showing that he is having a difficult time reachingÂ beyond a base of aboutÂ 25 percent. [via Huff Post, The Washington Post and The New York Times]