Last night, I told nervous Obama supporters that Obama would hit Romney with fact-checking today and it would be brutal. And here we go. Obama is hitting Romney on the trail, fact-checkers are having a field day with Romney, and now the ads have started.
Here is your first TV ad from the Obama campaign, called “Trust”. If you can’t trust Romney in the debate, how can you trust him in the White House?
“I’m not in favor of a 5 trillion tax cut. That’s not my plan. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center concluded that Mitt Romney’s tax plan would cost 4.8 trillion dollars over ten years.”
“Why won’t Romney level with us about his tax plan which gives the wealthy huge new tax breaks? Because according to experts he’d have to raise taxes on the middle class or increase the deficit to pay for it. If we can’t trust him here how could we ever trust him here?”
Here’s a small roundup of the response to Romney’s fairy tale presentation of his positions last night:
CNN’s David Gergen: “Romney was just sort of flat out lying.”
Bloomberg News: “Romney’s tax plan can’t add up.”
CNBC Fact Check: “Romney again tonight did not say specifically how he would pay for his proposed across the board tax cut.”
Los Angeles Times: “Fact check: Romney repeats erroneous claims on healthcare”:
Fact Check@factcheckdotorg Romney says he will pay for $5T tax cut without raising deficit or raising taxes on middle class. Experts say that’s not possible….
Rachel Weiner @rachelweinerwp Fact Checker: Romney says “six other studies” have found his plan can be revenue neutral, but he’s wrong about that. http://wapo.st/UGjQeh
PolitiFact @politifact Obamacare is a government takeover of health care? That was the 2010 Lie of the Year. http://ow.ly/ecO9V #debate
Chicago Sun-Times: “If, however, you score Wednesday’s debate on substance — accurate facts and honest arithmetic — Obama more than held his own.”
Michael Crowley @CrowleyTIME Romney closes with pretty dishonest warning about defense cuts
Liberals can’t stand seeing the President bullied and not fighting back. It brings up painful memories of lost elections stemming from unchecked Republican lies about patriotism and purple band-aids. But Obama is not John Kerry. Obama is not Jimmy Carter. Obama is not a wimp.
If anyone in this election is a wimp, it is Mitt Romney — as even Newsweek pointed out months ago. Romney is so desperate to be liked that he will tell the voters anything, do anything, to get their approval in this moment. But he will change it all tomorrow or the next hour to get someone else’s approval. He is fickle, two-faced and back-stabbing. He stands for nothing except the sleaze of an unethical used car salesman. This is what Americans think wins a debate? Bullying and lies?
Perhaps Americans are that silly. I don’t happen to think they are. But at any rate, Obama is not trying to win a debate. He’s trying to win an election. There is a big difference. Ask Sarah Palin about that. She is foolish enough to be gloating today over Romney’s performance, because Palin loves it when anyone takes a cheap shot at the President since she never managed to land a punch.
The country needs to lift itself up from the Right, not stoop down to their level. We are not electing bully-in-chief. We already had one of those and it didn’t work out so well. Fact lovers worry that the average voter didn’t hear the truth last night, and I agree. They didn’t.
But there isn’t anything Obama could have done about that without coming down to Romney’s level. Romney stood on that stage and reinvented his entire tax plan, disowning everything he’s been saying for the past year. Have you ever fought a serial liar in public? Engaging with them on their every lie is a mistake, because a misinformed public who do not understand the issues will falsely equate your growing hysteria with the lies of the serial liar. The mud spreads.
Obama did what he had to do. He was put in a bad position – how to catch a slippery liar who keeps changing their position? Punch air? He rose above it, spoke to the people directly, and he let the fact-checkers do their job. Today, he’s taking his case to the people in swing states. This man is not a wimp. But if his opponents want to make that same mistake again, fighting their fictional Obama, that will no doubt be just fine with the Obama camp.
In case anyone forgot, in 2008 Obama had the exact same strategy. He does not play the aggressive, angry man. He makes his rational, calm case to the public. He waits until the public has made up their mind about who is being dishonest or unfair, and when even the Independents are screaming “Why doesn’t he hit back!?”, Obama finally delivers the smooth, never-nasty knock out.
There is nothing more damaging for a candidate than having their own words used against them. It proves that they are not trustworthy and no matter what the pundits say, trust and likeability matter at the polls. George W Bush came across as a decent guy; Mitt Romney does not. Romney is a serial liar, who seems to garner smug pleasure from getting away with it at the moment. Mitt Romney is only fooling himself and what is left of his base. Sure, he took some “Undecideds” last night, but how are those folks feeling this morning after Romney has been roundly taken to the woodshed for his lies?
Trust. You can’t buy it.