Campaign 2012: How low can you go?
August 14th, 2012
03:52 PM ET
2 years ago

Campaign 2012: How low can you go?

(CNN) - To listen to some Republicans, one might think President Barack Obama is doing the limbo.

"The Obama Campaign has reached a new low," declared Mitt Romney campaign Press Secretary Andrea Saul in a Tuesday statement battering Vice President Joe Biden, who at a speech earlier Tuesday said Romney would deregulate the financial sector and "put y'all back in chains."

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Just over an hour later, she emailed reporters another statement billed as a "Response to President Obama's Newest Low."

In a campaign which has been brutal and nasty on both sides - by one metric, plagued with ads significantly more negative than those aired in the last campaign for the White House - the Romney campaign's response that Obama, the Democrats, and their allies are hitting "new lows" has become a familiar refrain.

The Team Romney-termed Tuesday low of the Obama campaign was apparently a decline from Saturday, when Romney introduced his new running mate and said that while "the president's campaign is taking American politics to new lows, we're going to do something very differently."

And, presumably, it was lower than the Obama campaign stood Thursday, when Romney adviser Barbara Comstock told CNN's Kate Bolduan that a new ad by the Obama campaign "is definitely a new low." Comstock said the incumbent's campaign sunk to that benchmark by "lying yesterday about knowing the story of this gentleman" who appeared in a pro-Obama super PAC ad which linked Romney to the death of the man's wife. An Obama spokeswoman initially said the Obama campaign was unaware of the man's story, although it emerged the campaign had once used his story in a briefing for reporters.

At the same time she maintained a Romney fundraising pitch which referenced the anti-Romney ad was "not at all" a new low.

And after Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said someone - whose identity he has not revealed - told him that Romney had not paid taxes in years, Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told CNN's Candy Crowley that "the Obama campaign has turned into a bottomless pit. Everyday they seem to reach a new low."

The previous record for a new low in Team Romney's view - according to a survey of press releases and transcripts - was set in mid-July when Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter said that "Either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony, or he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments."

Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades responded, "President Obama's campaign hit a new low today when one of its senior advisers made a reckless and unsubstantiated charge to reporters about Mitt Romney that was so over the top that it calls into question the integrity of their entire campaign."

A review of press releases and statements suggests the supposed decline picked up in intensity last May. That month, the Romney campaign press secretary, Saul, said in an email to reporters that "President Obama and his administration have sought to blame America first, yet Vice President Biden's reckless statement yesterday blaming America for – of all things – the progress of Iran's nuclear weapons program, has reached a new low."

Earlier in May, Republican National Committee Co-Chairwoman Sharon Day remarked in a statement, "Democrats and their Big Labor allies in South Carolina have sunk to a new low, with the president of the state AFL-CIO bashing a piñata effigy of Gov. Nikki Haley with a baseball bat."

But as far back as April, Romney's campaign emailed reporters charging that "President Obama's government by gimmick is reaching another new low today," and RNC Communications Director said Obama "and his desperate Chicago campaign have resorted to the very tactics they campaigned against less than four years ago... he has taken politics to a new low."

A search of archived press releases and transcripts for those referencing "new low" and "Romney" found over 300 results in the past year. Although peppered throughout those results are a few reports on mortgage rates, public opinion polls, and mentions not directly related to the campaign, the volume of examples related to the campaign indicates how often surrogates and supporters of the Massachusetts Republican use the phrase in interviews, and how those words have become lodged in the political discussion.

Democrats have, on occasion, fired the charge back at Romney and his allies. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz told reporters on a conference call in June that "today, we learned that Mitt Romney has truly sunk to a new low." She organized the call in response to a news report that the Romney campaign had asked some governors to downplay good economic news in their state for political gain - a report the Romney campaign denied.

And with every claim of a "new low" comes the distinct possibility that the presidential campaigns will struggle to reach new heights.


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. Ancient Texan

    Never have I seen a dirtier campaign and it's just getting warmed up. Truth in negative ads in a misnomer, ain't gonna happen.

    August 15, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  2. g

    is bishop romney blessing the crowd or putting a voodoo on them,all ready a living god

    August 15, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  3. Redleg

    How unfair can you get? Expecting a big CEO to own up to his own signatures and to be aware of his own resume. It is so low to hold him to his own words. Expecting to know what he would be signing as President - dirty. Expecting him not to "reotractively resign" - so unfair. Mitt is probably the polite version of his real nickname.

    August 15, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  4. Norm

    New low? I"m curious how this is measured since during the run up to the 2008 election and after, GOP idealogues and operatives were questioning the President's citizenship, calling everyone who voted for the President a socialist, questioning the President's faith, and generally making some pretty low brow comments about Democrats. No one on the GOP side tried to reign in the nastiness, indeed they knew it would stir up the base and get them out to vote. Mitt Romney has refused to distance himself from Trump who still questions the Presidents legitimacy as a citizen. While I truly believe that it would be better if we could deal with issues and act like leaders, I for one am glad that the Democrats are firing back. All politicians are trained in double speak, but it's the citizenry who listens and buys into it.

    August 15, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    Suck it up, GOPers, and quit you're incessant whining. It's been a long, hard road of nothing but anti-Obama blah, blah, blah negative talking points coming from the right for a good three years now. Indeed, that was the only platform that the Grand Old Party had ... dig on Obama. And the media eat up every word of it.

    Mitt Romney himself eagerly became head flag bearer to keep the Obama hate flowing. And let's not leave out his running mate who HAS been a member of the Republican controlled HELL NO obstruction crew and you better believe Boy Wonder was loving every minute of GOP photo op obstruction he could get aired in front of T.V. cameras. Indeed, his leadership has caused said Congress to once again reach a new historically low approval rating.

    August 15, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
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