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. DN3

    Romnesia is perfect. And perfect timing too. 2 weeks is about the memory/attention span of the voting public.

    By the way, the economy is on a slow and steady recovery and whoever takes the presidency will enjoy the fruits of Obama's labours and this despite the GOP firewall in Congress. Of course, if Romney wins people will give him all the credit. If Obama wins, people will criticize him for taking too long. Obama ...danged if he does and danged if he doesn't. SMH

    October 21, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  2. KenM

    Romney team doesn't like it because its all true. Romney has changed his position so many times its a joke. The POTUS has a personality and ability to connect with people, Riomney shoud either addres why he has flipped flopped on so many issues or live with it.

    October 21, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  3. RFD

    The trustworthiness of a candidate is a big issue, i.e., if the words of a candidate are meaningless, then points made thereby are irrelevant. Trustworthiness, integrity, and simple intelligence (i.,e., a president should not be critically dumb) may be the biggest issues of all - as they underpin the discourse and likely action. The "Romnesia" attack was a huge attack - attacking not only Romney's honesty and integrity, but his intelligence.

    October 21, 2012 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  4. dillet

    This is all so ridiculous, blowing up awkward phrases into reasons to disqualify a candidate for office! For example, the "binders" expression, in its context, obviously means "files full of potential employee recommendations." Perhaps we forget that political candidates speaking live, while under great pressure, are still only real human beings with unscripted dialogue. But I challenge any speaker to avoid occasional poorly-expressed comments. Our society is too accustomed to the perfectly- composed dialogue of actors. Back off, you guys!

    October 21, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  5. wyl5326

    Barack is really so in love with words that he loves to coin new terms like the most recent one as Romnesia ! Haven't he learned the lesson from his previous coined term of Romneyhood that drew my response of coining the terms of Barackhood and Obamahood ! Unfortunately for him, I have to teach him a lesson that his Romnesia has a counterpart called Obamnesia that came from ability to lie without an iota of restraint ! I would expect this Obamnesia to surface in next debate like how the Benghazi falsehood he is still trying to propagate to date !

    October 21, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  6. cmills

    What room does Obama have to talk? I see no difference in "flip flop" vs "evolve." If Obama truely is against superpacs, why didn't his campaign make a statement by not using them? Otherwise he continues to be the panderer-in-chief. These are nothing more than senseless distractions- I pray the average American can realize this. Why can't the media and the campains focus on real issues, such as the economy, national debt, or loss of morality in this great nation? Romney is a good man, of conviction and faith.

    October 21, 2012 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  7. Jack

    Lets see... the Romney (almost said Money, Freudian slip) campaign thinks these words are a distraction. The proof that they are not is that they felt the need to talk about them instead ignoring them. BTW... Solyndra is very old news and will not affect my vote. Not much better than Romneys missing tax returns. I already know he is rich and likely paid little in taxes. So whether or not I see them has no importance. I am much more concerned about Iran. If that happens it will make all the hand wringing about Solyndra or tax returns a sad and unfunny joke.

    October 21, 2012 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  8. jack johnson

    Romney will not release any details about anything! To be able to disprove any thing Rpmney says he first has to tell SOME things he would do Cut Taxes for rich (Oh I didn't say that) Make S.S.I. a voucher system (Oh I didn't say that) Add 2 trillion to the defence budget (Oh I didn't say that) Repeal Obamacare on the first day,but keep parts of it ( next day Oh I didn't say that) Get tough on China (while still shipping jobs out (under Bain) So if Etch-A-Sketch wants Obama to stop saying that he has Romneyesia then say something and STICK TO IT for a least one week.

    October 21, 2012 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  9. Cindy

    I think the Republicans problem with Big Bird is that he may have purple friends. The Republicans have no problems giving money to the NFL and the NBA. The NFL is listed as a non-profit. They also insist on giving money to NASCAR even after the Army asked them not too. I think the first thing Romney will do is put the country into bankrupcy. That is how he has always done it.

    October 21, 2012 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  10. Kuron

    If Romney does win, I wonder which Romney will be president? The severely conservative one running in the Republican primaries or the moderate Romney who just showed up at the first debate?

    October 21, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  11. "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." --B. Obama

    The uhbama sounds like a little child. So looking forward to having adults back in the White House.

    Romney/Ryan-the only trusted way forward.

    October 21, 2012 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  12. Beau

    Romney sounds desperate, his lies are starting to be called out left and right and he can do nothing but pretend everything he is being called out on is no big deal. He's alienated anyone with a brain smart enough to see through his trash with the exception of the small percentage that would actually benefit from his policies or lack there of

    October 21, 2012 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  13. Namejmboken

    To hopeandfchange1..............when the "only adult in the room" spanks your behind, you'll wish you had ran away from him.

    October 21, 2012 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  14. EdD

    Honestly? With everything going on right now, these are considered topics of any importance? I can see why Obama would want it that way and let's all give CNN a big round of applause for making it so. How about we focus on jobs, economy, and foreign affairs. All 3 are in the toilet.

    October 21, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  15. EdD

    Obama is desparate to deflect from jobs. economy, and Libya. The sheep will let him.

    October 21, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  16. crbrianb

    Name calling? Isn't it a little beneath the office of the president to be using childish name calling? What a great leader our president has become... NOT! Can we elect the person best qualified to leadour country instead of the most popular canidate this time around?

    October 21, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  17. labman57

    Romney's pundits insist that these criticisms of Mitt are merely "a silly line and little more than a distraction."

    Would an example of this be when Team Romney refers to Obama as an "Apologist in Chief" or claims that the POTUS is full of "Obamalony"?

    The Romney campaign has been "A Tale of Two Mitties" - it was the most progressive of times, it was the most conservative of times.

    The term "Romnesia" is simply a clever metaphor to emphasize how Romney has changed his policy positions more frequently than he changes his underwear.

    His campaign strategists have been making a feeble attempt to portray Mitt as compassionate and concerned about income equality and opportunity, medical privacy rights, and health care needs of women.After all, as he cluelessly pointed out during the debate, he has "binders full of women" ...

    Bottom line - Mitt "the human metronome" Romney is a shape-shifting politimorph. He'll embrace whatever public policy stance that he believes ... at that particular moment ... will help him to attain his political aspirations.

    October 21, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  18. Mal Lalous

    When you don't have a record to run on you resort to Big Bird, Romnesia, Binder, and other ignorant rhetoric.

    I voted for you last time Mr. President, but now it is time to take you Nobel Prize and your failed "change" and let someone else try.

    Four years later and we look back on the Beer Summit and the Apology Tour. You tried your best, but this is no time for amature hour Mr. President. We simply cannot afford four more years of your shovel ready jobs that never materialized. America can do a lot better the W. Bush and B. Obama.

    October 21, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  19. Joseph Brouthers

    Romnesia why not just call it what it is dementia or alsiemers hell he's not only flip flopping he is doing summer saults and as for the presidents record while in office just look at the house and senate the worse congress in over forty seven years. The only thing they accomplished was that nice shine on the seat of their pants. As for Mr Romney you all remember him the only thing he did for the working class was ship tens of thousands of jobs overseas

    October 21, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  20. realmike

    I am surprised that all that elmo revenue can't fund pbs.

    October 21, 2012 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  21. Sharp

    Romnesia refers to the fact that Romney & the Republicans want a blank check to do whatever they want with the country with no plan, no accountability & no democracy. At least the Democrats SAY what they are going to do.

    October 21, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  22. Bill

    President Obama's latest childish mantra is Romnesia. I would suggest a much more damaging mantra would be where the President, the DNC and his cool aid drinking followers are hoping the US voters have Obamnesia and forget the disastrous last four years.

    October 21, 2012 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  23. Nameimd

    Why do Republicans cry so much, you picked the worst candidate and everyday y'all try to find some way to make him sound legitimate. Romney lies about anything he thinks he can get away with in front of you and you still kiss his butt, you can play dumb with your friends behind closed doors where only weak minded individuals will laugh and go along with you,but in public you will always be considered idiots who follow other idiots in public:0

    October 21, 2012 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  24. me

    Can any of u do any better if so step up

    October 21, 2012 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  25. uncdig

    Again we fail to see any leadership out of the prez, instead he acts like a child & his immaturaity is demeaning the role of the prez. I guess a part time prez can act like achild,

    October 21, 2012 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
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