To: Interested Parties
From: Rodell Mollineau, President of American Bridge 21st Century
RE: Romney’s Circus of Lies
During the Republican presidential primary debates, a telling pattern emerged. Mitt Romney, who first ran for public office back in 1994, called Rick Perry a “career politician.” Mitt Romney, who owned stock in and profited from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, criticized Newt Gingrich for working for Freddie Mac. Mitt Romney, who lobbied for funding for the Salt Lake City Olympics and has many of DC’s top Republican lobbyists intimately connected to his campaign, attacked Rick Santorum as a lobbyist. It seemed that each attack that Mitt Romney leveled at his opponents was done before they had an opportunity to say it about him.
If precedent holds, then the best way to interpret Romney’s charge that Obama will “say things that aren’t true” is that he is attempting to inoculate himself against the abundance of falsehoods he plans on espousing at the debates.
Mitt Romney’s propensity for flip-flopping long ago passed into self-parody, perfectly epitomized by his own campaign’s reference to an etch-a-sketch. But it is important to remember that his ability to say one thing one day and say the opposite the next with a straight face is rooted in his casual relationship with the truth.
Mitt has a long history of mendacity, from trifling personal details (telling Wolf Blitzer his first name was “Mitt”), to blatant pandering (claiming his father marched with Martin Luther King, Jr.; boasting of his hunting prowess), to irresponsible mischaracterizations of policy (welfare’s work requirement; Medicare).
As the challenger, Mitt is the beneficiary of an alienated electorate resigned to saying “both sides do it.” Such false equivalency will be used to blur the distinctions between significant policy differences where the American people side with President Obama and the Democratic Party.
We know that Mitt Romney is going to lie during the debate – it’s just what he does. But it would take some brass to accuse the President of lying, and a healthy dose of skepticism would suggest such an accusation is a combination of projection and dissembling.
As a quick refresher, here is but a small sampling of Mitt’s lies in the past, and those he is most likely to repeat.
As Of September 28, 2012, 42 Percent Of Romney’s Statements Were Rated Mostly False Or Worse. According to Politifact’s Romney file, as of September 28, 42 percent of Romney’s statements, 74 out of 174, analyzed by Politifact were rated mostly false or worse. Romney had 30 statements, 17 percent, ruled to be mostly false. Romney had 28 statements, 16 percent, ruled false. There were 16 pants-on-fire rulings, 9 percent, for statements from Romney. [Politifact, Mitt Romney’s file, accessed 9/28/12]
As Of September 28, 2012, 9 Percent Of Romney’s Statements Were Rated Pants On Fire. According to Politifact’s Romney file, as of September 28, 16 statements by Romney, 9 percent, received a pants-on-fire rating from Politifact. [Politifact, Mitt Romney’s file, accessed 9/28/12]
ROMNEY’S “OBAMA APOLOGY TOUR” LIE
Politifact Gave Romney’s Claim That President Obama “Traveled Around The Globe To Apologize For America” A “Pants On Fire” Rating. According to Politifact, “During the formal announcement of his presidential candidacy on June 2, 2011, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney repeated a shot at President Barack Obama that he had taken in the title of his 2010 book, No Apology. Did Obama really do that much apologizing? We published a fact-check of a similar charge by Romney on March 15, 2010. At the time, we rated the claim False. Seeing Romney make the charge again during his announcement speech, we thought it would be worth seeing if what he said this time was any more or less accurate. (His staff did not answer a request for comment.) […] On the substance of Romney’s charge, we believe that what we wrote in March 2010 still stands. While Obama’s speeches contained some criticisms of past U.S. actions, those passages were typically leavened by praise for the United States and its ideals, and he frequently mentioned how other countries have erred as well. We found not a single, full-throated apology in the bunch. And on the new angle he added — that the trips were intended to offer the president a forum to apologize to other countries — we think it’s a ridiculous charge. There’s a clear difference between changing policies and apologizing, and Obama didn’t do the latter. So we rate Romney’s statement Pants on Fire.” [Politifact, 6/2/11]
PolitiFact: Romney’s Assertion That Obama Has “Apologized” For America Is False. PolitiFact wrote, “Here, we’re checking Romney’s statement that Obama ‘has apologized for what he deems to be American arrogance, dismissiveness, and derision’ and a host of other reasons. If you think American presidents should never admit to any sort of error at any time, you might find yourself in philosophical agreement with Romney’s criticisms. We set out to discover whether Obama really had apologized in his speeches, and what he was apologizing for. But in our review of his words, we came up short. Yes, there is criticism in some of his speeches, but it’s typically levened by praise for the United States and its ideals, and often he mentions other countries and how they have erred as well. There’s not a full-throated, sincere apology in the bunch. And so we rate Romney’s statement False.” [PolitiFact, 3/2/10]
Washington Post: Romney’s Claim That Obama Traveled Around The World Apologizing For America Was “Not Borne Out By The Facts.” According to The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, “Romney wrote a whole book on this theme, titled ‘No Apology,’ so maybe it’s hard to let go. But we previously gave four Pinocchios to the notion that Obama ever went on any kind of ‘apology tour.’ As we said at the time: ‘The claim that Obama repeatedly has apologized for the United States is not borne out by the facts, especially if his full quotes are viewed in context….Note to GOP speechwriters and campaign ad makers: The apology tour never happened.’ We find it interesting that in the foreign-policy part of the speech, Romney three times suggested Obama has ‘European answers’ or gets his ideas ‘from the capitals of Europe.’ There must be polling that suggests that ‘Europe’ grates on American ears. Still, it is a strange charge to make against a man who had an African father and who grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia.” [The Washington Post, 6/6/11]
Washington Post: Obama’s “Apology Tour” Never Happened And Quotes Were Selectively Trimmed. According to The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, “‘I will not and I will never apologize for America. I don’t apologize for America, because I believe in America.’ –Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (author of ‘No Apology: The Case for American Greatness’), Feb. 11, 2011… The Fact Checker senses a campaign theme emerging: Obama the apologizer. As the above quotes illustrate, it is an article of faith among top Republicans that President Obama has repeatedly apologized for the United States and its behavior. Even more, the argument goes, he does not believe in American strength and greatness. The assertion feeds into a subterranean narrative that Obama, with his exotic, mixed-race background, is not really American in the first place… The claim that Obama repeatedly has apologized for the United States is not borne out by the facts, especially if his full quotes are viewed in context. Obama often was trying to draw a rhetorical distinction between his policies and that of President Bush, a common practice when the presidency changes parties. The shift in policies, in fact, might have been more dramatic from Clinton to Bush than from Bush to Obama, given how Obama has largely maintained Bush’s approach to fighting terrorism. In other cases, Obama’s quotes have been selectively trimmed for political purposes. Or they were not much different than sentiments expressed by Bush or his secretary of state. Republicans may certainly disagree with Obama’s handling of foreign policy or particular policies he has pursued, but they should not invent a storyline that does not appear to exist. Note to GOP speechwriters and campaign ad makers: The apology tour never happened.” [The Washington Post, 2/22/11]
ROMNEY’S WELFARE LIE
Romney’s Ad Attacked Obama For “Gutting” Welfare Reform, Saying Obama Made It So You “Would Not Have To Work” Or Train For A Job. According to Reuters, “‘Obama guts welfare reform,’ says the video script of the Romney ad, while a voice says: ‘Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.’ The attack fits in with Romney’s strategy to paint Obama as a big-government liberal unable to take the steps he thinks are necessary to tackle the 8.3 percent U.S. jobless rate. The Republican is also trying to stay on the offensive after the wealthy former private equity executive has labored to defend his decision not to release more of his tax returns. The welfare attack, to be played out for the rest of the week, comes as the campaign toward the November 6 election intensifies.” [Reuters, 8/7/12]
Romney’s Campaign Pressed On With “Factually Inaccurate” Welfare Attack. According to The Associated Press, “Mitt Romney claims he’s got a winner with his criticism that President Barack Obama is giving welfare recipients a free ride. Never mind that aspects of his argument against the Democrat are factually inaccurate. Those flaws aside, Romney’s team is pressing on with the charge that the president ended a provision requiring welfare recipients to work. Romney aides insist the argument is helping them gain ground with middle-class voters anxious about the economy and independents who see Obama’s welfare changes as an indication that he is a typical liberal, not a moderate. But the campaign offers little evidence to back up those assertions.” [The Associated Press, 8/22/12]
Romney’s Campaign “Tripled Down” On False Welfare Attack After Saying Campaigns Pulled False Ads In The Past. According to NBC News, “Yet ANOTHER welfare ad from the Romney campaign hitting Obama. For all the focus on the Priorities ad and Joe Biden’s ‘chains’ comment, it is remarkable that the Romney campaign has now tripled down on this false line of attack on work in welfare, which harkens back to old resentments and culture wars of the 1990s… Flashback to Aug. 9, Mitt Romney: ‘You know, in the past, when people pointed out that something was inaccurate, why, campaigns pulled the ad. They were embarrassed. Today, they just blast ahead.’ Yes, they do, apparently.” [NBC News, 8/20/12]
Politifact: Romney’s Welfare Ad Was Inaccurate And “Inflamed Old Resentments” About People Able To Work Collecting Public Assistance. According to Politifact, “A Romney ad opens with a picture of President Bill Clinton signing the 1996 landmark welfare reform act, which shifted the program from indefinite government assistance to one based on steering people toward employment and self-reliance. […] Romney’s ad says, ‘Under Obama’s plan (for welfare), you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.’ That’s a drastic distortion of the planned changes to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. By granting waivers to states, the Obama administration is seeking to make welfare-to-work efforts more successful, not end them. What’s more, the waivers would apply to individually evaluated pilot programs — HHS is not proposing a blanket, national change to welfare law. The ad tries to connect the dots to reach this zinger: ‘They just send you your welfare check.’ The HHS memo in no way advocates that practice. In fact, it says the new policy is ‘designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.’ The ad’s claim is not accurate, and it inflames old resentments about able-bodied adults sitting around collecting public assistance. Pants on Fire!” [Politifact, 8/7/12]
AP: Romney And His Campaign Surrogates Distorted The Truth On Welfare Work Requirements. According to The Associated Press, “Romney’s camp hopes to draw a sharp contrast with Obama on welfare. But despite Romney’s history of pushing for tighter welfare restrictions as governor, his campaign has come under increasing criticism for leveling what Democrats and many independent fact-checkers say are dubious charges against Obama. Romney’s campaign alleges in remarks and TV ads that Obama is loosening welfare restrictions by ending a provision that requires welfare recipients to work. Romney has told voters again and again he’d restore the work requirement to the federal program… Yet numerous independent fact-checkers, including The Associated Press, have determined that Romney and his surrogates are distorting the facts.” [The Associated Press, 9/1/12]
Romney’s “Over-The-Top” Ad Attacking Obama’s Waiver Directive Received “Four Pinocchios.” According to The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, “The Romney campaign ad goes much too far when it suggests Obama has already taken action to ‘drop work requirements.’ The ad further states that ‘under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and you wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.’ Here, the Romney campaign is asserting an extreme interpretation of what might happen under these rules, but it is certainly not based on any specific ‘Obama plan.’ (The Romney campaign often cries foul when Obama offers his own interpretation of still-vague Romney plans.) What really matters are the plans submitted by governors—and as our colleague Greg Sargent noted, the two Republican governors seeking waivers issued statements saying they were not planning to weaken work requirements. […] The campaigns’ descent into gotcha politics is increasingly dispiriting. Conservatives may have legitimate concerns about the process in which the administration has approached this issue, or its legal reasoning, but that does not excuse the Romney campaign from charging that there is an ‘Obama plan’ to weaken the law and issue welfare checks to people who do not work. All things being equal, the Romney ad leans more toward four Pinocchios. There is something fishy about the administration’s process on this memorandum, but that does not excuse the Romney campaign’s over-the-top ad.” [The Washington Post, Fact Checker, 8/8/12]
ROMNEY’S ENDING MEDICARE LIE
Politifact Gave Romney’s Claim That Obama Was “Ending Medicare As We Know It” A “Pants On Fire” Rating. According to Politifact, “Mitt Romney is trying to turn the tables on President Barack Obama by using a favorite Democratic line against him, accusing Obama of ‘ending Medicare as we know it.’ […]The Romney campaign used it in a news release that listed five questions, each beginning with ‘Why is President Obama ending Medicare as we know it…’ […]Overall, then, the Romney news release is a talking point in search of facts. It takes some shreds of truth and combines them with worst-case-scenario speculations, then deploys overheated language. Even if each of his five claims were true, it would be a stretch to say that they added up to ‘ending Medicare as we know it.’ But given their degree of inaccuracy, the memo doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Under Obama’s approach, Medicare would still be a large, single-payer, federally run health care program for seniors — slimmer in some areas, more generous in others, with a smattering of different rules. That’s not ‘ending Medicare as we know it,’ which is just the latest line in a long history of political attempts to scare seniors. We rate Romney’s claim Pants on Fire.” [Politifact, 3/22/12]
Romney’s Memo Was Rife With “Fact-Bending Assertions And Outright Contradictions.” According to the Huffington Post, “The memo is rife with fact-bending assertions and outright contradictions. For example, it accuses the president of contradictory goals: cutting and bankrupting Medicare at the same time. It attacks him for slashing spending on Medicare Advantage (where much of those $500 billion in savings come from) without noting that the program has had difficulty in controlling costs. It doesn’t mention that the $500 billion cuts will be spread out over ten years. Finally, it demonizes the Independent Payment Advisory Board, even though the idea has been supported by Republicans in the past and can help achieve the cost savings that Romney supports. The most glaring omission in the memo, however, is a mention of Romney’s own plan, which would create an optional voucher system for beneficiaries — something that, absent bankruptcy, is far more likely to “end Medicare as we know it” than what the president’s proposed.” [Huffington Post, 3/12/12]
Romney Supported Ryan’s Plan That Included The Same $716 Billion Savings That They Attacked Obama For In The Affordable Care Act. According to ABC News, “Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are trying to turn the tables on President Obama, making what Democrats had thought was a weakness — their Medicare plan — into a strength in the presidential race. Since Ryan was introduced as Romney’s running mate on the presumptive GOP ticket, all the talk of the campaign has been about Medicare, not the economy. That’s because the Democrats tried to use the Wisconsin congressman’s plan to overhaul Medicare, essentially turning it into a voucher program for seniors to buy their own health insurance, to undermine support for Romney. But now, with the Republican National Convention just a week away, Romney, Ryan and their surrogates are using Medicare to hammer Obama, focusing on a $716 billion cut in funding for the program that was part of the Affordable Care Act. Ryan included those same cuts in his signature budget plan — the same plan Romney has said he would sign if he becomes president — but Ryan says he was forced to build his plan on those cuts because they were already signed into law.” [ABC News, 8/20/12]
Published: Sep 29, 2012