Friday, August 10, 2012

Romney Rule #14: You are responsible for your side's Super PAC; I'm not for mine

No one could improve on Greg Sargent's exposure of the fathomless hypocrisy behind this demand by Mitt Romney that Obama repudiate the Priorities USA ad blaming Bain for an uninsured woman's death from cancer:
“You know, in the past, when people pointed out that something was inaccurate, why, campaigns pulled the ad,” Romney said on the radio. “They were embarrassed. Today, they just blast ahead. You know, the various fact checkers look at some of these charges in the Obama ads and they say that they’re wrong, and inaccurate, and yet he just keeps on running them.”
As Sargent points out, "fact checkers have called out his ads as wrong, inaccurate, misleading or false again and again and again and again and again and again and again. If Romney pulled any of those ads, I’m not aware of it."

I would just add a supplement: Romney has been very specific about the extent of a candidate's responsibility for Super PAC ads that support his candidacy.

On January 16 of this year, Fox's Juan Williams, posing questions in a GOP primary debate, invited Santorum to follow up on a prior attack on Mitt's mendacity:

Senator Santorum, today you said Governor Romney is guilty of distorting your record as well as, quote, "lies and hypocrisy." You said this behavior is classic Romney, and no one is holding him accountable.
Santorum took up the challenge, challenging Romney both on a Super PAC ad's mendacity and on the policy position it suggested (I've edited out the latter):
Governor Romney's super PAC has put an ad out there suggesting that I voted to allow felons to be able to vote from prison, because they said I'm allowing felons to vote, and they put a prisoner -- a person in a prison jumpsuit.

Romney first implied unfamiliarity with the ad:
I believe that, as you realize that the super PACs run ads. And if they ever run an ad or say something that is not accurate, I hope they either take off the ad or make it -- or make it correct. I guess that you said that they -- they said that you voted to make felons vote? Is that it?

Then he disavowed responsibility:
I did not have a super PAC run an ad against you. That's -- as you know, that's something which is completely out of the control of candidates.

One of the things I decried in the current financial system that gets behind campaigns is that we have these voting requirements that put these super PACs in power that say things we disagree with. And I'll tell you, there have been some -- there have been some attacks on me, I mean, that -- that have just been outrageous and completely inaccurate and have been shown to be inaccurate. That's the nature of the process.
 Santorum responded:
I need to -- I need to respond to this. What the governor said is he didn't propose anything to change that law, and what he's saying is that the -- the ad that says that I said that -- or I voted to allow felons to vote is inaccurate. And it is inaccurate. And if I had something -- the super PAC that was supporting me that was inaccurate, I would go out and say, "Stop it," that you're representing me and you're representing my campaign. Stop it.

Romney, needless to say, never said "stop it."  Ten days later, in a CNN debate in Florida, he extended this above-the-ad-filth pose to his own personally approved ad:
BLITZER: The rhetoric on immigration, Governor, has been intense, as you well know, as all four of you know, and anyone who watches television knows. You had an ad running saying that Speaker Gingrich called Spanish “the language of the ghetto.” What do you mean by that?

ROMNEY: I haven’t seen the ad, so I’m sorry. I don’t get to see all the TV ads. Did he say that?... [snip] I’d like — I doubt that’s my ad, but we’ll take a look and find out. There are a bunch of ads out there that are being organized by other people.
After Gingrich elaborated his vile race-baiting demagoguery in terms marginally more acceptable to a national audience, the conversation moved on. Several minutes later, Wolf Blitzer followed up:
We did double-check, just now, Governor, that ad that we talked about, where I quoted you as saying that Speaker Gingrich called Spanish “the language of the ghetto” — we just double-checked. It was one of your ads. It’s running here in Florida in — on the radio. And at the end you say, “I’m Mitt Romney and I approved this ad.” So it is — it is here.


ROMNEY: Let me ask — let me ask a question.
Let me ask the speaker a question. Did you say what the ad says or not? I don’t know.

GINGRICH: It’s taken totally out of context.

ROMNEY: Oh, OK, he said it.
So within the space of two breaths, Romney once again disavowed knowledge of the ad and as a general principle justified any distortion of an opponent's words -- effectively his campaign's credo.

So chalk up Romney Rule #14:  You are responsible for your side's Super PAC, but  I'm not responsible for mine

I take some comfort from the apparent fact that virtually no one in America believes a word Romney says. Which won't stop 47-53% of us from voting for him.

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