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. Rick 7809

    It is a shame that the real issues of the campaign will not be discussed because the parties spend so much effort insulting and telling lies and half truths about each other. This is intentional to deflect the discussion from the things that really matter. And the press does nothing but suck it all in and fill up space with the chatter because it is easy. We need to hear specific plans.

    August 15, 2012 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  2. Peter

    The party of Karl Rove and The Swift Boaters is complaining about dirty politics.

    Give me a break.

    August 15, 2012 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  3. Steven Colo

    It's pretty ugly, but Obama still has a way to go before he out-lows the campaign in which Bush Swift Boated Kerry.

    August 15, 2012 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  4. wally

    They are all stooping to new lows, and the only way to stop them is to demand it. We need to get them to start by promising to stop lying about themselves, each other, and about what we as Americans want or feel.

    You can sign a petition asking them to do just that at (and since they will remove it if I put in a real link, I have removed the "dot" and the w's

    change (dot) org/petitions/rnc-dnc-take-a-truth-in-campaigning-oath

    it may not have a lot of signatures now, but imagine if it were presented to the RNC and DNC with a million voters demanding that they tell the truth, so that we can actually have a debate about important issues.

    August 15, 2012 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  5. Gary, Hunt Valley, Md.

    Romney is amusing with his constant whining. all he does is react to Obama's well-placed, relentless digs by crying over it, while spitting out unemployment and debt numbers in a feeble attempt to pin today's economic mess on Obama. Romney's handlers must be amateurs. it's a losing strategy, just like choosing Ryan will hurt his chances with independents, moderates, minorities and the elderly. the majority of Americans actually remember recent history that this high-schoolish campaign keeps trying to hide. Under Bush, the ship literally sank. POOF! went the historic surplus (massive tax cuts to the rich, 2 unfunded wars, an unfunded prescription drug care bill. huge deficits, TARP, massive bank bailout). Obama's name is pinned to the auto industry bailout that WORKED and the stimulus that combined to save huge amounts of jobs. An electoral landslide is building for Obama.

    August 15, 2012 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  6. Rudy NYC

    Biden's comment is almost the exact phrasing that Rick Santorum used last summer on the campaign trail.

    August 15, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  7. Marcia Greenwood, IN

    Mitt is allowed to tell lie after lie ,after lie ,after lie, aftler lie ,after lie-they then make up things about the Obams ads and run crying and whining to the press Wha-put on your big boy pants-you lie about the money Obama took from medicare and spent on seniors while the Ryan plan does the same but uses it on tax breaks for multimillionaires-I will not be voting out democracy for a plutocracy

    August 15, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  8. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    The party of the Confederacy, slavery and Jim Crow is pointing fingers and talking about low. How ludicrous! low is when you lied to the American people, the UN and the world community about bogus WMD's in Iraq and murdered our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Low is when you wrecked our economy and then turn around and give huge tax breaks to the rich while you stifle the middle class and the poor. Low is when the GOT goes around injecting their blatant bigotry and hate into the mainstream of our society and dividing our country with their racism. Low is when you people call for the assasination of our President, redicules our First Lady because of the color of her skin, call for the extermination of gays, burn the Quran, attack Muslims, women, seniors and other minorities. That is low.

    August 15, 2012 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  9. Ferret out the B.S.

    With these guys, you just can't get low enough.

    August 15, 2012 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  10. Fair is Fair

    "Biden's comment is almost the exact phrasing that Rick Santorum used last summer on the campaign trail."
    -------
    Oh... ok. That makes it all better.

    August 15, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  11. Wilson

    The desperation of the left is so hilarious. Obama is still running against Bush. Keeps throwing stuff against the wall trying to get something to stick against Romney. Romney must be teflon coated. Then he picks Ryan as running mate, thus, sinking Obama's ship.

    August 15, 2012 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  12. Supafat34

    Are you people kidding me? What lies has the Romney campaign told? Only the desperate Campaigner-in-chief and his side is dragging this down. Obama cannot talk about the real issues, so he has to fabricate others.

    August 15, 2012 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  13. Mark

    Oh course Mitt is running a clean campaign full of truths and honesty. Right. Actually, I'm not sure what huis campaign is? All he does is criticze the president and has yet to tell anyone how and what he will do. That's not how to win elections.

    August 15, 2012 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  14. chill

    For all those Tea Party people that didn't like Bush's TARP bailout of the banks, why are you supporting a banker for President?

    August 15, 2012 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  15. ST

    The Obama campaign is not dirty, the problem is Romney campaign and himself didn't think thoroughly the repercussion of picking Ryan as VP, and how the other side will react. They thought only on positive side and their own base. This is not how politics is played. Am afraid to say there is a lot more on the way coming which will make Romney campaign so paralysed!

    August 15, 2012 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Did anyone listen to the audience reaction when VP Biden made his controversial remark? Half of the audience had laughed. I think Joe Biden was being sarcastic, and most of the audience seemed to take it that way. Using a stentorian southern drawl is a humorous way of admonishing someone in, ah, um, certain social circles. Social circles that Mitt Romney is obviously unfamiliar with.

    August 15, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  17. Real MC

    For years and years I have sat incredulosly by as the Democrats were made to look like wimps as the big Republican bullies pushed them around and took their lunch money on the playground. Now finally the Democrats bought some weights, flexed their muscles, stuck out their chest, and started pushing back and got down in the gutter with the GOP.

    Now, I am laughing at the whining and crying coming from the right as they complaining that they are getting splattered with mud!

    August 15, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  18. quinLee

    That's rich. The GOP/teaparty claiming the other guy has reached a new low. The GOP/teaparty brand is in the toilet. Their tent has shrunk to the most fringe elements of the party. This is evident by the reappearance of characters like Gingrich and Sununu, both disgraced and forced to leave office. That's what a new low looks like

    August 15, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  19. MaryM

    Mitt where are those tax returns, NOTHING is going to make this go away and will dog you until the election.
    All the money in the world wont buy you this election.

    August 15, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  20. Brooke

    Can handle it Mitty..........its the true. Obama is talking about truth. Mitty hold life is base on LIES. Mitty what goes around comes around. Stop acting like a spoil brat and MAN UP. The way you did Rick and the others not so long ago was that low?. You are a snake and the reason why you are putting this statement out there is because you are the one who is getting ready to go LOW. Almost like saying fight fire with fire. We know you very well LIAR........ Mitty how lonw can you go with your LIES .....

    August 15, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  21. Big Bill

    Poor Baby! Mitty thinks it unfair that someone takes a spreadsheet to his budget and reveals that all the benefits go to millionaires like him and that the bill goes to the middle class. And it's also so unfair these calls for him to reveal how much taxes he has paid or maybe not paid. I just want to know how he got 100 million dollars in his IRA. His tax lawyer must have earned a big bonus for that.

    August 15, 2012 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  22. Vic of New York

    The one thing that is clear now about the Republican Party and those who align themselves with it is that they represent the gutter of American values. The Republican party and the low life rich patrons pumping money into it and fanning the flames for their selfish reasons of greed, forge the gutter through which every form of slime, filth, and deceased character that infect our nation seems to have gravitated to. The filth that calls itself Republican should be well advised – we know who you are by the party you associated yourself with.

    August 15, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Oh... ok. That makes it all better.
    -----------------–
    No. It means that no one complained when Santorum was throwing red meat to crowd made up mostly of his party's base. Joe Biden was speaking to an audience where arguabley each and every attendee going in would be voting for Obama/Biden 2012. Biden didn't have to sway their opinions, which were already made up. He wasn't there to drum up their votes. He was their to motivate THEM to drum up more votes for the campaign. I think he may have been feeding them talking points.

    August 15, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  24. Jay Jay

    People are smarter than you all think. Romney can't compete so he cries file. What goes around comes around. Besides, the Republicans and Fox news have set a new and more harsh tone for America. It's going to get even dirtier if the Republicans don't stop the crooked antics.

    August 15, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  25. Craig in Pa.

    Republicans can sure dish it out, but they are crybabies when it goes the other way....Sick of the crap...let's get the country going...worry about that..

    August 15, 2012 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
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