DNC Ad Misleads on Romney and the Stimulus

As has been amply recorded by both Democrats and his Republican opponents, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has a long record of, shall we say, “evolving” on issues.

The Democratic National Committee hits Romney for this in a new TV ad which can be seen HERE and a new web video, which can be seen HERE.

In the TV ad, the DNC accuses Romney of flip-flopping on abortion and on President Obama’s health care bill.

In the web video, the DNC accuses Romney of flip-flopping on the stimulus, abortion, support for Ronald Reagan, President Obama’s health care bill, whether or not he ever hired an illegal immigrant, whether humans contribute to climate change, Ohio Governor John Kasich’s ballot initiatives, taking a no new taxes pledge, an assault weapons ban, TARP, and the auto bailout.

Most of the hits are clean. Some are nuanced and arguable.

One is just plain false: whether Romney flip-flopped on President Obama’s stimulus bill.

Here’s the interview from which they took the quote, from CNN on January 4, 2009.

WOLF BLITZER: He’s talking about a $750 billion economic stimulus package. He wants it to be passed as soon as possible. It’s unclear if whether it can be passed before he’s inaugurated on January 20th. What do you think about this proposal?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, I frankly wish that the last Congress would have dealt with the stimulus issue and that the president could assign that before leaving office. I think there is need for economic stimulus. Americans have lost about $11 trillion in net worth. That translates into about $400 billion a year less spending that they’ll be doing, and that’s net of additional government programs like Medicaid and unemployment insurance. And government can help make that up in a very difficult time. And that’s one of the reasons why I think a stimulus program is needed.

I’d move quickly. These are unusual times. But it has to be something which relieves pressure on middle-income families. I think a tax cut is necessary for them as well as for businesses that are growing. We’ll be investing in infrastructure and in energy technologies. But let’s not make this a Christmas tree of all of the favors for various politicians who have helped out the Obama campaign, giving them special projects.

That would be wrong. You’ll see Republicans fight that tooth and nail if that happens. Let’s do what’s right for the economy, and let’s not do what’s a political expedient move.

From this, the DNC cherry-picks, “I think there is need for economic stimulus” and portrays Romney as having backed President Obama’s stimulus bill, which at that point in time didn’t even exist.

Yesterday our friends at Politifact rated this claim in the DNC ad as “Mostly False.”  When asked how it justified the use of this quote, a DNC official said that “Mitt Romney supported a stimulus approach nearly identical in size and scope to what President Obama eventually passed and now he’s lead primary voters to believe he never supported any stimulus at all.”

Did he? Where did he do that?

The DNC official pointed out that on Morning Joe on January 16, 2009, Romney said, “in my view, the president’s willingness, his rhetoric to say, look, he’s going to reach across the aisle, he wants to seek the input from members of our party — that’s a very encouraging sign. The president’s plan for economic recovery, including a stimulus bill which includes a very healthy dose of tax reductions, is something which I think showed a willingness to actually listen to some of his own economic advisers that have pointed out in their research that tax reductions have a bigger economic stimulus impact than spending money on infrastructure does.”

Moreover, the Democrat said, on Meet the Press on December 13, 2008, Romney said “the government is going to have to step forward, not only with monetary policy to add funding and capital to the capital markets so we see more lending, but also for additional spending and lower taxes.”

In other words: he didn’t. Romney saying he supports the concept of stimulus is not the same thing as saying he supports President Obama’s stimulus bill. The DNC got greedy here. The use of that Romney quote is deceptive and false.

-Jake Tapper