Only in the bizarro world of the mainstream media will you find CNN and NBC ignoring Mitt Romney’s endless negativity and complaining about the Obama campaign being negative.
Here’s David Gregory whining at David Axelrod on Meet The Press:
MR. GREGORY: You went on to tweet in response to that and some other things on Thursday. “Even Mitt’s friends are warning him grinding negativism has its limits.” Certainly this campaign, the Obama campaign, has not shied away from grinding negativism, saying that Governor Romney has no core, making fun of his use of the word marvelous and certainly try to cast him as out of touch and even a right wing extremist. So is this what we’re in for?
MR. AXELROD: Look, I think he is out of touch. And on the substantive issues that are going to affect the lives of the American people he’s out of touch. His policies are out of touch. When you want to give people like yourself, Mitt Romney and frankly, President Obama and others have done well, massive tax cuts and raise taxes on people under $40,000 a year and so on, that, that is out of touch. When you think we can grow the economy by cutting education and aid to students. Look, this week we had an example. The Congress, the Republican Congress passed a $46 billion small business tax cut. Half of those tax cuts will go to people like hedge fund firms, law firms. Donald Trump characterized, it would, would be a small business under their definition. And, and yet they said that we didn’t have $6 billion to, to extend a policy of keeping low the interest rates on student loans. So if we don’t act, student loan interest rates will double on June–in June. That isn’t a prescription for growing the economy, and it’s not, and it certainly is out of touch with the experience of everyday Americans. So there’s a very distinct choice, David, and it’s not about gratuitous remarks. It’s about fundamental policy.
MR. GREGORY: You know, back in 2004 when I covered the re-election of President Bush, Karl Rove, his top campaign strategist, would always say, look, if the question is the war on terrorism, the answer is President Bush. And that effectively encapsulated a big part of what their campaign was. What is the question in 2012 that President Obama is the only answer for?
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MR. AXELROD: I think the, the question is, are–if–are we going to build an economy in the future that is durable in which the middle class is growing and not shrinking, in which hard work is rewarded, responsibility is ward–rewarded and everybody plays by the same rules, from Main Street to Wall Street. That’s what the president is fighting for, and it’s completely different than the approach that had–was taken in the last decade and the approach that Governor Romney wants to reinstitute if he’s elected president.
MR. GREGORY: But if you want to make this a referendum on the president’s leadership, you do have difficulties because you have an economic record, a sense of pessimism. You have a high unemployment rate. A referendum on the president guarantees what in your judgment?
MR. AXELROD: This president guarantees an economy that will grow and provide new opportunities for the middle class. It’s not going to provide more of what we saw in the last decade with a narrowing group of people doing well and everybody else pedaling faster and faster. That’s not a healthy economy. You build the economy from the middle out, not from the top down. And the president strongly believes that. That’s why he said, you know, you mentioned the silver spoon remark. His point is, when we invest in, in excellence in young people and respond–and reward responsibility, we all benefit as a country. When we walk away from that, we jeopardize our future.
Axelrod faced similar questions about, “Obama’s negativity” on CNN:
Transcript from CNN:
CROWLEY: Let me show you and our viewers the NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey this week on who has good ideas to help the economy. And it said president Obama 34 percent, Romney, 40 percent. How do you account for that?
AXELROD: Well, I account for it by the fact that people don’t know Mitt Romney very well yet. They see businessman. They hope he has new ideas. I think when they — but, Candy, I think here is the point when they find out what his ideas are, slashing taxes at the top for the very wealthy, cutting Wall Street loose to make its own rules, cutting the investments we need to education, research, development, energy, the things we need to grow, they’re going to think this is very familiar. We tried this. This was a big failure.
CROWLEY: But on the other hand, he has been pummeled for the last six months, and you all have joined in when you found an opportunity to do so. I think people are pretty aware that he’s a multimillionaire…
AXELROD: But the truth is he hasn’t talked — he’s been very critical of the president. And one of the most interesting things in polling this week was in your own poll and it was people were asked — who supported Obama is it a pro-Obama vote or anti-Romney vote, 75 percent said pro-Obama.
They asked the same question of Romney, only a third of his voters said they were voting for him. It was the lowest number that you have recorded in all the time you’ve been doing this. And the reason is he’s run a purely negative campaign, purely negative in the primary, purely negative in the general.
So he hasn’t really been eager to spell out these ideas. When he does, I think people are going to judge them for what they are, which is backward looking and a repeat of what got us into this mess in the first place.
CNN and NBC are worried about Obama’s “grinding negativity,” but what they don’t mention is that Mitt Romney has run a relentlessly negative campaign from the moment that he announced his candidacy. The Romney campaign has been historically negative. For example in the Florida GOP primary, Mitt Romney’s super PAC Restore Our Future ran 4,669 spots in the state. All of the ads were negative. Mitt Romney’s campaign ran 3,276 ads in Florida, and 99% of them were negative. Mitt Romney spent $15 million in Florida, and ran one positive ad. It was in Spanish. Seventy two percent of all the super PAC advertising during the Republican primary was negative. The vast majority of those ads came from the Romney’s super PAC.
The Republicans have been pushing the lie that Obama ran the most negative ads in 2008 as a way to justify Romney’s endless negative blitzkrieg, but the truth is that Obama and McCain ran about the same number of negative ads in 2008, and the president ran more positive ads than his Republican opponent. So far in 2012, the Obama campaign has used most of their advertising to tout the growing economy and mobilize his grassroots. There has been little negativity from the Obama campaign.
CNN and NBC based their questions to Axelrod on the false equivalency that both candidates are engaging in negativity. The reality is that the negative campaign is coming from the eventual Republican nominee. Romney and the GOP have chosen to take this campaign in a very negative direction. President Obama and his campaign will have no choice, but to respond to Romney’s attacks. If you want to see what happens to a Democrat who stays positive while his opponent endless defines them with negative ads, check out Michael Dukakis in 1988 and John Kerry in 2004.
I suspect that the Obama campaign will follow a similar path to what they did in 2008. They are going to run a mix of positive and negative ads. The goal of the Romney campaign is to shrink to the size of the electorate by turning voters off with negative advertising. It is almost a given that the Romney campaign and the super PACs supporting him will unleash an endless barrage of negative ads throughout the entire campaign.
For the media to accuse the Obama campaign of having any role in the negative tone of the 2012 campaign is not only deeply biased, but it is also foolish. People aren’t stupid. Judging from Mitt Romney’s low approval ratings they understand where then negativity is coming from, even when CNN and NBC don’t want them to.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association
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