Campaigns debate Big Bird, binders and Romnesia
October 21st, 2012
02:39 PM ET
6 years ago

Campaigns debate Big Bird, binders and Romnesia

(CNN) – The two presidential campaigns clashed Sunday over Big Bird, "binders full of women," and the latest phrase gone viral on the campaign trail - "Romnesia."

Romney senior adviser Kevin Madden said President Barack Obama's re-election campaign has "reduced themselves to very small attacks" that amounted to trivial attempts to distract from the president's failed record.

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"('Romnesia' is) quite frankly a silly word for the leader of the free world to begin uttering," Madden said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "The very fact that the president has to utter a term like that is a glaring example of how small his campaign has been."

Obama first used the term at a campaign event in Virginia on Friday to underline his opponent's changes in positions on issues like contraception, coal, equal pay, and taxes.

"He told folks he was the ideal candidate for the tea party," Obama said of Romney's stance during the primary season. "Now suddenly he is saying 'What, who me?' He is forgetting what his own positions are and he is betting that you are too. I mean he is changing up so much, backtracking and sidestepping."

Obama said he and his supporters needed to come up with a term for "this condition he is going through," settling on "Romnesia."

Also appearing on "Face the Nation," Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said the term is meant to be a "playful" way to compare Romney's moderate positions taken during the general election campaign with his more conservative stances taken during the fierce Republican primaries.

"All this talk about binders, all this talk about Big Bird, that's indicative of a president who doesn't have a plan for the future," said Madden, arguing the Obama campaign's use of these words to attack Romney proves it has run out of ideas.

Cutter defended the campaign's use of Big Bird, saying the reference to "Sesame Street" and PBS underscored Romney's inability to come up with a plan to reduce the deficit. She said Romney's "binders full of women" comment, made at last week's presidential debate, shows his resistance to policies benefiting women.

In response to a question at the town hall-style debate last week on gender pay inequality, Romney said that as he was assembling his Cabinet after being elected governor in Massachusetts, he questioned his staff for sending him only male applicants and was told those were the only candidates who were qualified.

"I went to a number of women's groups and said, 'Can you help us find folks?' and they brought us whole binders full of women," Romney said, sending social media, political analysts and critics abuzz about the awkwardly phrased comment.

The campaigns did agree, however, that Florida is a "very close" race in the CBS interview, broadcast from Boca Raton, Florida, ahead of Monday night's final presidential debate there.

Recent polls in Florida showed 48% of likely voters backing Romney and 45% supporting Obama, according to a Fox News survey released Saturday. Those results are in line with Friday's CNN/ORC International poll of likely Florida voters. The CNN poll found 49% of likely voters in the Sunshine State backed Romney and 48% backed Obama. The differences between the candidates in both polls are within the sampling errors.

Underscoring the significance of Florida's 29 electoral votes, Obama will campaign in the Sunshine State following the debate, then travel to Ohio to appear with Vice President Joe Biden. The Romney campaign has not announced where the former Massachusetts governor will campaign after the debate.

–CNN's Gregory Wallace and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (193 Responses)
  1. BinaryTooth

    Yep!!!! These are the 3 biggest issues according to Obama. Not jobs, the economy, deficit spending, national security, and the list goes on. Obama is a child and his campaign reflects it.

    October 21, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  2. hopeandchange1

    POTUS looks petty and silly and so do his supporters and pundits. It's like a high school debate and Romney is the only grown-up.

    October 21, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  3. Micha

    In a June conference call hosted by the conservative-leaning National Federation of Independent Businesses, Mitt Romney encouraged business owners to let their employees know which candidate they support and how the election's outcome will affect their business.
    "I hope you make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections," Romney said.

    Now with Tagg Romney and family having investments in the company that makes the voting machines and tallies the vote, it looks like they may steal the election. That is why they are so positive about him winning.

    Also, the company that makes the machines are one of Romney's highest contributors. Conflict of interest for sure.

    October 21, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  4. anonymous

    If you think Binders full of women is small campaigning you're missing the point. It's not the phrase he used it's the point he made by showing everyone how out of touch he is regarding women's issues. Did he expect a gold star for what he thinks was going out of his way to hire a woman? AND, he didn't even answer the question. It was about equal PAY. Obama answered by signing the Lilly Ledbetter act.

    October 21, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  5. arrowrod

    Interesting. All about Romney.

    Apparently Romney is leading more than I thought.

    October 21, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  6. anonoymous

    I like it or do they like flip flopper ecth a sktech or just plain liar better. Mr Obama is the president and will continue to be the president. Dont think Romney advisor saying iit doesnt sound presidential means much since Mr romney isnt the president and never will be!

    October 21, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  7. youngliz

    Can't come up with a more biased headline than this. How about $4+ trillion dollars in debt, no budget, shovel ready jobs, Solyndra bankruptcy, and no security=dead ambassador.

    October 21, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  8. Woman In California

    First of all, Madden is a loser with no ideas or concepts whatsoever. Big Bird, binders full of women and Romnesia are all important issues.

    Big Bird: Willard told Jim Lehrer to his face (in front of a national audience) he would fire him (which goes to show just how cold and cruel he is) and any man who would attack Big Bird is just plain evil.

    Binders full of women: I have never seen two people (Willard and Ann) more qualified and guaranteed to insult one segment of society each time they open their silly, insignificant mouths.

    Romnesia: While I don't agree with the timing of this statement by the president, it doesn't change the fact it's true. How can people vote for a man who supports EVERYTHING? Do you really know what his plans are?

    Dangerous and too unpredictable for me and this country.
    Obama all the way for me.

    October 21, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  9. ddblah

    Hah, women's equal pay is small? Lying is small?

    October 21, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  10. Walter Cabrera

    Although I'm not an american, I have two american daughters aged 22 and 24 living and working in the US. Therefore, I'm very much interested and concerned about the presidential campaign. I was quite impressed with Governor Romney's performance in the first debate. However, after watching the second debate, I am very concerned about the lack of details in his economic plans for the country, particularly about what kind of deductions and loopholes is he going to make to pay for the tax cuts he's proposing. I would like to know what are the deductions and loopholes in the tax code he used to end up paying an effective 14% tax rate? My daughter, who makes around $60K annually pays about 27% in taxes.


    October 21, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  11. Hillcrester

    The RomneyBain camp sounds desperate.

    RomneyBain has become a legitimate object of mockery.

    October 21, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  12. Milton K. Wiah

    When Bush was calling Kerry flip flopper, there was no problem.

    October 21, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  13. Canuck

    I am not a huge Obama fan but at least he is consistent, like it or not you know what you are getting. I do not see how people are voting for Romney in such numbers – how do you know which version of Mitt Romney is going to show up after election day??? The one you voted for, or a more severly Conservative one, or which??

    October 21, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  14. Michaela

    I am not an American but am following the campaign .
    Doesn't everybody see how childish and petty some of Obama's campaign speeches are , his constant mocking and silly chuckling is embarrassing to watch.
    He is a boy in a man's suit.

    October 21, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  15. muffet

    Now the republicans are crying and whining because of the truth! I find it difficult to believe anyone who is logical is falling for Willard Mitt's five point NO plan. The truth to them is like crypto nite to a super hero or the cross to a vampire. This man's character has been revealed time and time again. He lies, he conceal, and has absolutely no principles. Anytime your home town newspaper says you flip flop and lie, that says a hell of a lot.

    October 21, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  16. Donkey Party

    To all you right-winger sub-humans that continue to politicize the Benghazi incident and the four lives that were lost, do you need a reminder of how many lives were lost on 9/11 thanks to Bush and the GOP, or when Bush started an illegal war with Iraq? Or perhaps we should talk about the 250 marines who lost their lives in Lebanon during your messiah Reagan's administration? Or, you can simply stfu, and quit with the over-biased hypocrisy.

    October 21, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  17. NameT-hill says

    I completely agree Micha. ..looks like another Bush episode trying to rear it's ugly head again...but we will stand for it.
    Obama will come out the winner because we won't let these Mitt/lyan prosper.


    October 21, 2012 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  18. GetEd

    These are the guys who came with a pair of flip-flops each at the Republican National Convention in 2004, to mock a war veteran. Now they think it's "small" to mock an etch-a-sketch draft dodger...I pity you if you support Romney.

    October 21, 2012 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  19. jnpa

    Hey Madden, I wouldn't call it romnesia either....I would just simply call it outright lying!

    October 21, 2012 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  20. Planet Kolob

    Romney is a very sad, very rich, very jealous man who just wants power.

    October 21, 2012 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  21. Ashley

    Romney.....president.......april fools!

    October 21, 2012 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |

    Obama, Biden, Axelrod and Wasserman-Shultz are in for a big surprise. Bob Scheiffer hosted Face the Nation and worked for Washington Post during Watergate era. Scheiffer is updated on Obama - like he was on Nixon.

    October 21, 2012 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  23. Howie76

    The Bush team with Rove at the helm started this type of talk and labeling John Kerry as a Flip flopper, what about Obamacare the republicans came up with that. They just don't like it when pages are pulled from their own play book and used against them.

    October 21, 2012 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  24. Mona

    Why shouldn't the President talk about Romney's inconsistancies & round about demeaning remarks on women. Romney
    doesn't hesitate to lash out at the President, I don't hear anyone talking trash about him! We all know why the President
    is taking heat it's b/c no one thought that there would EVER be an African American president...all this assinine crap about
    the President is okay but not if it is against Romney, right? Palllleeeesssseeee, give me a freakin break!

    October 21, 2012 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  25. KRUNTZ

    iTS FUNNY. Romney makes refernce to big bird, in a feebl attempt to explain how he would reduce the defificit. It was one of the most idiotic things ever said because it would have virtually no impact on the budget deficit. But that is all he has presented. Democrats make fun of hims for having NOTHING and some how they are the bad guys.

    This sounds a little like the logic behind the Libya criticism. A president waits a couple of weeks to fully assess a situation, rather than rush to judgements. There was no bad outcome of his waiting to gather the facts. Of course the Republican record, let say with Iraq as an example, is to run in gun blazing, losing 4000 american lives, when there was no intelligence to support it.

    October 21, 2012 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
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