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Obama Distances from Romney-Killed-My-Wife Ad

by Keith Koffler on August 20, 2012, 2:53 pm

President Obama sought to distance himself from an ad by the Pro-Obama PAC Priorities USA Action that suggests Gov. Mitt Romney’s actions at Bain Capital were responsible for the death of the wife of a man who had lost his insurance.

“I don’t think that Gov. Romney is somehow responsible for the death of that woman,” Obama said.

Obama, who spoke at an impromptu news conference today in the White House briefing room, did not condemn the ad. But he said he did he “did not approve” it, noted it was put out by a third party, and said it has “barely” run on the air.

Officials in charge of the PAC, including former Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton, have had close ties to the White House and the president.

But while steering clear of the ad, Obama amplified his campaign’s attack on Romney for failing to release his taxes, saying that Americans want evidence that Romney is playing “by the same set of rules” that they are. When asked if this meant Romney might be doing something illegal, Obama said he meant that Romney has certain tax advantages most Americans lacked, like Swiss bank accounts.

The Obama campaign has been darkly hinting that Romney may have cheated on his taxes.

Obama asserted that “Nobody accused Mr. Romney of being a felon.”

That may be technically true, but it’s misleading. Obama campaign spokesman Stephanie Cutter stated last month that Romney might have misrepresented to the SEC his role in Bain Capital, adding, “which is a felony.”

{ 27 comments }

Al47 August 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm

He didn’t approve but didn’t condemn it, which for me sounds it’s okay for my minions to say basically that Romney was responsible for the death. I’m not surprised by his reaction.

srdem65 August 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Once again, MrO missed a golden opportunity to present himself as a statesman, above the fray, or a man of principle. He had only to say that he disapproves of those kinds of innuendo-type ads, that he wants to have a campaign on the issues facing our country. He should have said that a document filed with the SEC could have just been a clerical error and he does not consider his opponent committed a felonious act.

The WhiteHouse knows, has seen, has examined MrRomney’s tax returns that the need him to make public. They know he has money in foreign banks, they know it. What they want to do is smear him as a tax-doger to a public that doesn’t understand how people of vast fortunes move money.

The call for MrRomney’s tax returns from a President who has hidden almost all of his life’s records is the deepest hypocrisy and offensive.

SnarkEsq. August 20, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Frankly, I don’t want someone as POTUS who would be stupid enough not to take every possible tax deduction and loophole available. If his financial advisers and tax advisers didn’t do so, it could be considered malpractice. There is not a single American, of average wealth or enormous wealth, whose objective is not to pay the least amount in taxes legally possibly. The good ones then turn around and donate even more to charity, as the Romneys have always done.

Michael August 20, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Exactly. Obama and his henchmen have desperately tried to paint Romney as a tax cheat because he takes all legal measures available to minimize his taxes. Perhaps Obama and his followers don’t understand the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion. He did, after all, let Tim Geithner slide.

At any rate, he keeps trying to give it legs, but it’s really not an issue of great importance to most Americans.

Move on, Mr. President. Tell us where the jobs are.

Elaine August 20, 2012 at 9:50 pm

When his people or his supporters do something beyond the pale, he won’t say anything and this is the only time he doesn’t lie because he would be lying if he claimed he disapproved of their acts.

RickW August 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm

If the ad had generated a boost for him in the polls, Dear Leader would not have mentioned it at all.

Julie Brueckheimer August 20, 2012 at 3:24 pm

“That woman”?

srdem65 August 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm

I noticed that, too. Not ‘the man’s wife’, the ‘poor woman’, or even MrSopik’s wife’.

mean, little man.

ImNoDhimmi August 20, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Just like Bill Clinton, who “did not have sex with that woman”. So disrespectful.

schatzi August 21, 2012 at 12:47 am

Now-now-now – he coulda said “that dead woman”…but then he mighta lost her vote.

Chas August 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm

A tax cheat? All Barry needs to do is look to his Treasury Secretary for that.

redhawk August 20, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Or do on eof two things… ASK the IRA… or Go on LIne a LOOK at Romney filings ….Too DUMB or LAZY to do EITHER????

schatzi August 21, 2012 at 12:44 am

Redhawk – yes and yes.

veritaseequitas August 20, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Too late. Comrade Obama did not step up immediately. Now he is trying to look good by kinda, sorta denouncing the ad. Plus he is insincere.
As far as his taxes go – Mitt Romney, just like any other red-blooded American, is going to use the tax advantages that are available to him as dictated by the tax code. The fact that he can and does use them does not make him a criminal, nor is it something that should be of concern to the American people. We all use what tax advantages are available to us. There is nothing wrong with that. Obama is trying to make something out of nothing. And if Romney were to release his tax returns, there would always be something lese that this lousy, dishonest administration would want.
Maybe if Obama didn’t pay millions to hide his college records and his other personal records he would have a little more gravitas when it comes to stuff like this. What phony little worm Obama is.

sportinlife10 August 20, 2012 at 6:25 pm

In politics, you never allow the media or the opposition to control the narrative. I think Romney is playing this one correctly. I note the dem demand is on rollback now, only asking for five years…
It does begin to look as if the rats are beginning to leave the sinking
ship[?
I can’t see how the MSM is going to recover from this kissyface with the o campaign? We have options now, and the MSM is slow to figure out that we are serious.

SnarkEsq. August 20, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Did you see the response from Romney’s campaign manager to Messina when Messina requested “only” five years?

http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2012/08/obamas_messina_offers_mitt_tax.html

Hey Jim,

Thanks for the note.

It is clear that President Obama wants nothing more than to talk about Governor Romney’s tax returns instead of the issues that matter to voters, like putting Americans back to work, fixing the economy and reining in spending.

If Governor Romney’s tax returns are the core message of your campaign, there will be ample time for President Obama to discuss them over the next 81 days.

In the meantime, Governor Romney will continue to lay out his plans for a stronger middle class, to save Medicare, to put work back into welfare, and help the 23 million Americans struggling to find work in the Obama economy.

See you in Denver.

Thanks,

Matt Rhoades

Romney for President

Campaign Manager

schatzi August 21, 2012 at 12:50 am

Boy howdy but that Matt Rhoades makes mah heart flutter!

Elaine August 20, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Exactly. Romney should simply point out Obama is a fool every time he makes some outrageous, sick lie against him and use it as an opportunity to reveal some new evil about Obama (which he could do 24/7 for the rest of the days prior to the election.)

BARKLEY PONTREE August 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm

“I don’t think that Gov. Romney is somehow responsible for the death of that woman,” Obama said.

That reminds me of the old Zig Ziglar story about “I didn’t say he beat his wife” and how those 7 words that make up that sentence has 7 different meanings depending on which word you accent in the sentence.

I get seven meanings out of that Obama sentence depending which word is accented.

barkleypontree.blogspot.com

schatzi August 21, 2012 at 12:51 am

Ace coulda stopped after his first three words: “I. Don’t. Think.”

Star August 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Just more low rent stuff. To use the president’s favorite word.

redhawk August 20, 2012 at 4:52 pm

BUT Not FOR LONG….His Junk Yard Dogs are alreday Unleashed with new LIES and Character assasination ads…Even POLITICO ( not a CONSERVATIVE PUBLICATION ) shows that Obama nad his Koms are IMPLODING and CAH is RUnning LOW:
By GLENN THRUSH Back To Story Page »

Obama campaign figures Axelrod and Cutter have been at odds at times.
Photo by AP Photo

President Barack Obama’s campaign team, celebrated four years ago for its exceptional cohesion and eyes-on-the-prize strategic focus, has been shadowed this time by a succession of political disagreements and personal rivalries that haunted the effort at the outset.

Second-guessing about personnel, strategy and tactics has been a dominant theme of the reelection effort, according to numerous current and former Obama advisers who were interviewed for “Obama’s Last Stand,” an e-book out Monday published in a collaboration between POLITICO and Random House.

The discord, these sources said, has on occasion flowed from Obama himself, who at repeated turns has made vocal his dissatisfaction with decisions made by his campaign team, with its messaging, with Vice President Joe Biden and with what Obama feared was clumsy coordination between his West Wing and reelection headquarters in Chicago.

(PHOTOS: Obama 2012 campaign staff)

The effort in Chicago, meanwhile, has been bedeviled by some of the drama Obama so deftly dodged in 2008 — including, at a critical point earlier this year, a spat that left senior operatives David Axelrod and Stephanie Cutter barely on speaking terms — and growing doubts about the effectiveness of Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

(Also on POLITICO: White House stands by Wasserman Schultz)

The e-book, produced as part of a two-month reporting project that included interviews with two dozen current and former members of Obama’s team, illuminates how the mood and character of the 2012 reelection effort is flowing from the top — with Obama’s own personality and values shaping his campaign just as powerfully as he did four years ago.

This has produced a campaign being animated by one thing above all. It is not exclusively about hope and change anymore, words that seem like distant echoes even to Obama’s original loyalists — and to the president himself. It is not the solidarity of a hard-fought cause, often absent in this mostly joyless campaign. It is Obama’s own burning competitiveness, with his remorseless focus on beating Mitt Romney — an opponent he genuinely views with contempt and fears will be unfit to run the country.

Obama is sometimes portrayed as a reluctant warrior, sorry to see 2012 marked by so much partisan warfare but forced by circumstance to go along. But this perception is by most evidence untrue. In the interviews with current and former Obama aides, not one said he expressed any reservations about the negativity. He views it as a necessary part of campaigning, as a natural — if unpleasant — rotation of the cyclical political wheel.

(PHOTOS: Obama over the years)

Obama’s trash-talking competitiveness, a trait that has defined him since his days on the court as a basketball-obsessed teenager in Hawaii, was on display one night last February, when the president spotted a woman he knew was close to Sen. Marco Rubio in a Florida hotel lobby. “Is your boy going to go for [vice president]?” the president asked her. Maybe, she replied.

“Well,” he said, chuckling, according to a person who witnessed the encounter. “Tell your boy to watch it. He might get his ass kicked.”

Other passages of the book reveal:

• Obama personally dispatched senior West Wing aides to Chicago — led by David Plouffe and Pete Rouse — to better coordinate operations between the White House and Chicago. He was especially irritated by what he viewed as self-promotion by subordinates — and fumed that ad consultant Jim Margolis had appeared in a New York Times profile on Obama’s negative ad operation. Margolis sent a mea culpa to Obama and the staff, but Obama remained miffed.

The president’s less-than-stellar appraisal of his own team’s efforts has been a recurring motif of 2012.

In late May, what was intended as a clever campaign stunt — dispatching Axelrod to Boston to personally make the case against Romney on the steps of the State House — went awry.

As Axelrod was greeted by pro-Romney hecklers chanting “Axel-Fraud,” Obama was in the West Wing watching with growing disgust as the event unfolded on cable news. The scene, he scoffed to a nearby aide, was an ill-conceived “spectacle.”

“We aren’t going to do that kind of thing again, are we?” he asked peevishly, not a question but an order. Obama has no qualms about throwing a punch, his close intimates say, but can’t stand looking foolish when he does.

• Biden’s misstep, also in May, in announcing his approval of gay marriage — which forced Obama to do the same before he intended — caused greater disharmony in the White House than was reported at the time.

Biden blamed Campaign Manager Jim Messina for “throwing him under the bus” with the media during the gay-marriage flap — a charge that turned out to be untrue. In an emotional one-on-one meeting with Obama, Biden apologized profusely and said he’d been betrayed by Obama’s aides.

The president tried to calm him down, saying, “Look, Joe, there are people who want to divide us. You and I have to be on the same page from now on. You and I have to make sure that we don’t get divided.”

Plouffe and other West Wingers were even angrier that Biden had screwed up his boss’s carefully laid plans to announce his position before next month’s Charlotte convention — even as Biden previously had counseled against weighing in on the issue for fear of alienating battleground-state independents.

• As Team Obama was gearing up to face Romney after the GOP primaries, Axelrod and Cutter — close friends who oversee the campaign’s massive messaging and communications operations — clashed over a minor incident that left them barely on speaking terms during a critical early part of the campaign.

The spark, according to people close to the situation: Axelrod suspected Cutter of taking a network TV appearance he had been asked to do. The conflict, well-known inside Obamaland but not outside the inner circle — was really the reflection of a grinding campaign, Cutter’s propensity for stepping on toes, and Axelrod’s elliptical and disorganized management style.

But to many on the inside it reflected a dangerous divergence from the 2008 all-for-one ethos. The pair patched up their differences and coordinated an effective attack against Romney’s Bain Capital connections and his refusal to release a dozen years of tax returns — but subordinates found the tension unnerving.

• Many of Obama’s advisers have quietly begun questioning whether they should have picked Wasserman Schultz, an outspoken Florida congresswoman, as his DNC chairwoman. She has clashed with Chicago over her choice of staff and air-time on national TV shows — and they think she comes across as too partisan over the airwaves.

Obama’s brain trust secretly commissioned pollster David Binder to conduct an internal focus study of the popularity of top Obama campaign surrogates. Number one was former press secretary Robert Gibbs, followed by Cutter. Traveling press secretary Jen Psaki, who was added to a second study, was third. Axelrod, Plouffe and current White House press secretary Jay Carney were bunched in the middle. Wasserman Schultz ranked at the bottom.

Amid the challenges, Obama maintains confidence and is his campaign’s biggest cheerleader, exhorting downcast aides to buck up — he always knew they would “go into a barrel” at some point, he’d tell them. Still, he was concerned enough to privately order his top advisers to “tighten” things up, and fast.

It is Romney himself who provides a rallying point for both the candidate and his team.

Obama really doesn’t like, admire or even grudgingly respect Romney. It’s a level of contempt, say aides, he doesn’t even feel for the conservative, combative House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Hill Republican he disliked the most. “There was a baseline of respect for John McCain. The president always thought he was an honorable man and a war hero,” a longtime Obama adviser said. “That doesn’t hold true for Romney. He was no goddamned war hero.”

Time and again Obama has told the people around him that Romney stood for “nothing.” The word he would use to describe Romney was “weak,” too weak to stand up to his own moneymen, too weak to defend his own moderate record as the man who signed into law the first health insurance mandate as Massachusetts governor in 2006, too weak to admit Obama had done a single thing right as president.

The two things Obama fears most about a Romney victory: A 7-to-2 conservative Supreme Court within a few years. And the equally unbearable possibility, in his mind, that Romney will get to take a victory lap on an economic rebound Obama sees as just around the corner. “I’m not going to let him win … so that he can take credit when the economy turns around,” Obama said, according to an aide.

Obama has himself to blame for what has, arguably, been the greatest unforced error of his political career: his team’s failure to adequately form a strategy to deal with the avalanche of unregulated cash crashing down on him from GOP and Romney-allied super PACs.

Many on his team now regret not dispatching an aide of Plouffe’s stature to the cause in 2011, someone better equipped to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Karl Rove. People around Obama originally floated the idea of tapping Chicago billionaire Penny Pritzker to run the effort, but Obama personally waved off aides who pestered him about it.

Obama still believes Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court decision that unleashed the super PACs, poses a huge threat to representative democracy by equating the largesse of self-serving billionaires with free speech.

Axelrod agreed, but also saw a political benefit to the high-mindedness. He believed trashing the super PACs was a messaging winner for Obama — a stance vehemently opposed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Messina. “We’re going to lose this [f-ing] thing. Why don’t they get it?” Messina said of Axelrod and Obama.

By early 2012, the GOP super PAC floodgates had opened, and Obama reluctantly agreed to endorse a group friendly to his cause, Priorities USA Action.

But when Priorities’ founders — former White House aides Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney — struggled to fund that group, Democrats close to Obama considered tapping Gibbs for the job. They quickly realized it could raise legal problems stemming from Gibbs’s paid work for the campaign. Gibbs would have said no anyway.

Even in the slog of a reelection, Obama’s aides tried to inject some of the 2008 spirit of innovation into the campaign, with varied success.

Bored with the traditional one-city format for national conventions, they briefly considered a groundbreaking plan to stage four nights of events in four cities in 2010. The plan turned out to be a logistical nightmare, and would have cost the party and networks millions more. It was quickly scrapped.

During secret Sunday Roosevelt Room meetings with his top political and White House advisers, Obama has expressed concerns that the enthusiasm gap between his 2008 and 2012 support could cost him the election. He often peppers participants with pointed questions about campaign metrics — he’s especially interested in gauges of base enthusiasm, including the latest reports on volunteer enrollment in swing states and college campuses.

Obama remains frustrated with the bickering by Hill Democrats. During a closed-door meeting in June, he told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that Republicans were trying “to delegitimize me,” and implored them to put his own reelection over competing political priorities.

“Look, guys. I plan on winning this race,” he said, according to a person briefed on the interaction. “If I don’t win, then anything we say now doesn’t matter. I plan on winning this race. So let’s figure out how to win this race.”

Despite Obama’s all-in commitment to the campaign, there have been signs of strain. And people close to him detect, from time to time, a yearning for the high ground. It is most often reflected during his drafting of speeches — a therapeutic, clarifying exercise for a politician with a writer’s impulse to reconciling contradiction through narrative.

To give Obama a break from the relentless negativity of the campaign, friend and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett quietly set up a salon/dinner for Obama over the summer — which lasted more than two hours, a huge block of presidential time.

On hand were Jarrett’s friend and Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson, Facebook billionaire and new New Republic Publisher Chris Hughes, and Apple executive Scott Forstall, who led the team that developed the iPhone.

One of the topics?

Civility and political discourse.

aunty M August 20, 2012 at 7:09 pm

If Romney did anything wrong in filing his taxes the IRS would be the first
to contact him. So I am not really worried about all this. Just the Liberals
doing what they do best, being hypocrites.

sportinlife10 August 20, 2012 at 8:34 pm

This is the best site I know for information re the current administration. I check so many other sites daily, and must come back to this one again and again. If it’s not first=hand information, it’s background, and I appreciate it immensely.
Imagine: acting as if intelligent adults should believe that today’s grudging in-person taking-questions-from an-approved-short-list-show-up. And we’re supposed to pretend this is a press conference? Cuh.

SnarkEsq. August 21, 2012 at 1:37 am

Sport, I totally agree with you about this site. White House Dossier has become my favorite website, checked several times a day. Keith really stands out in his reporting on the shenanigans in this WH and often is the very first one to dare write articles on certain topics, just as he led the way a couple of weeks ago in calling Obummer out for hiding from the WH press.

I have to say that I also very much enjoy the comments by the readers here and I try not to miss any of them. The insight, passion, frustration, determination, wit, and sarcasm all combine to make this such a great website. I also appreciate it when my fellow readers leave links for articles that I might not have seen yet. Keith really does have a very well informed readership here.

SayItAintSo August 20, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Obama made what is probably his truest statement yet —- “I don’t think —” !

Just2old August 20, 2012 at 9:32 pm

obama’s pants are on fire.