CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA — President Obama today seized upon a remark by a pollster for his rival’s campaign to paint Mitt Romney as determined to “not let the truth get in the way” of his campaign.
Speaking to a crowd of roughly seven thousand supporters, many of them students at the nearby University of Virginia, the president said, ” you can prove the cynics wrong one more time. But the other side will spend the next two months spending more money than we have ever seen in our lives — an avalanche of attack ads and insults, distractions — and sometimes they just make things up. But they’ve got a bunch of folks who can write $10 million checks. And they’ll just keep on running them. ”
The president continued: “somebody was challenging one of their ads, they just — they made it up about work and welfare…Every outlet said, ‘this is just not true.’ And they were asked about it and they said — one of their campaign people says: We won’t have the fact checkers dictate our campaign. We will not let the truth get in the way.”
The president was referring to remarks made at an ABC News panel in Tampa , Florida, earlier this week, when Romney pollster Neil Newhouse responded to criticism of his campaign’s TV ad attacking the president with false claims about the welfare reform law. After it was noted that myriad fact checking organizations had found the ad false, Newhouse stated, “we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”
The ad deals with the waivers for states dealing with the welfare-to-work requirement, ones Republican governors requested and that the Obama administration said it was willing to consider. The ad has been shot down by fact checker after fact checker and just not accurate.
In addition, some notable pundits such as Ron Fournier argue that the ad “is exploiting the worst instincts of white voters – as predicted and substantiated by the Republican Party’s own polling. That leaves one inescapable conclusion: The Romney campaign is either recklessly ignorant of the facts, some of which they possess – or it is lying about why (and how) it is playing the race card.”
Earlier this month, Romney expressed shock that a pro-Obama super-PAC with ties to the White House would continue running an ad in which a steelworker tied Romney to his wife’s death. (The ad has run twice.)
“You know, in the past, when people pointed out that something was inaccurate, why, campaigns pulled the ad,” Romney told Bill Bennett on his radio show. “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.”
When asked which Obama campaign ads Romney was referring to, a Romney campaign official listed a host of charges that fact-checkers had found wanting or downright false, including an Obama tweet that Romney’s less than 15% tax rate on $42.5 million in income in2010 and 2011 was “much less than what many middle-class families pay..”
(“No matter how you slice it, his tax rate is not significantly lower than the tax rate paid by middle-class Americans,” concluded the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler. “The Obama campaign’s tweet relies on a very slippery ‘fact.’)
-Jake Tapper and Mary Bruce