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. sean74cnn

    So where's the part of this article that points out that Romney lied about approaching the women's groups asking for those "binders full of women." He was approached by the groups and offered the resumes.

    People can't see this cr@p when a politician screws up, then attempts to take credit for the correction to his screw up? Seriously?

    October 21, 2012 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  2. Name Nancy

    Hello you Romney followers..this man Romney cannot even speak properly..why shouldn't he at least have some education..looking at the debate last week one can clearly see the difference in speech. President Obama speaks with conviction using propers words Romney speaks like a street man just simple stupid words, it is scarey that a simple man like him could end up in the Whitehouse as for his wife she is no difference..she is a homemaker..

    October 21, 2012 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  3. JimmyC

    Binary tooth, you are the child. Both campaigns are running similarly ridiculous strategies, but your silly and childish partisanship allows you to only see one side. Try thinking for yourself in a rational way.........(PS, I'm a conservative.)

    October 21, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  4. US voter

    Why are voters so eager to vote against their own interests? If congress goes along with Mitt Romney's plan, 95% of Americans will be paying higher taxes so that the wealthy pay no taxes. Romney's objective is a government by and for millionaires. Fire the 47%.

    October 21, 2012 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  5. Kim

    Poor Mittens, did he get his feeling hurt?

    October 21, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Milton W, you have to admire the republican. They have a Romnesia and selective memory...

    GO OBAMACARE ... Barry embrace it...

    be creative Myth... embrace it as well!!!!

    October 21, 2012 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  7. FancherParty

    If Madden is calling Obama's words silly you know they're making a huge impact.

    October 21, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  8. joseph

    it will be a very scary 4 years if romney wins. it is very scary already that romney has bought the election, if you have children or parents in the military know that they will be sent to kill and be killed. so you republicans that lose a son, daughter or parent in romneys war, i will laugh at you.

    October 21, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  9. Joane

    Obama is a president and his campaign reflects it, excuse you!!! he is the only one who can keep us safe.

    October 21, 2012 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  10. why do the cnn "MODERATORS" refuse to post my opinions? censorship?

    big bird and binders? man ...when is the left wing press going to stop this ridiculous bias they have for one side....its totally unethical...

    let the people decide for themselves for once! or dont you trust your readers...????

    October 21, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  11. Paul.

    Romnesia,that is a good one!!!................................................................................What about 4 years of Obamacoma?????

    October 21, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  12. Mitt RobMe

    Well apparently Romney doesn't feel he would need to consult with Congress to fire Big Bird, so that's the one specific we can get on how he will pay for his tax cut.

    October 21, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  13. Malron

    Romneys, Jim Lehr and Big Bird cuts amount to 1/100th of 1% of the Govt's Budget. They talk about Obamas rhetoric about Romney but he is the one that these comments originate from. Republicans do not deserve the White House or Congress after the Congressional fiasco of the past 2 Years, Remember People its the Republicans fault that this Fiscal Cliff is coming up. They are the ones who walked away from the Grand Bargain. They are the ones that would not have an up or down vote on raising the debt limit. They are the ones that got Moodys to downgrade our Bond Ratings.

    October 21, 2012 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  14. JuJuBee

    For all of you posting on this page about the Lilly Ledbetter Act – you need to read it first before you pass judgement on its merits. Don't listen to the media hype or spin – you need to read about it yourself. It is a nice concept, but it is poorly written and will have the unintended consequence of causing women NOT to get hired to begin with because the 180 day requirement to bring suit is not limited to the when you first find out about the discrimination. And it should be. It will cause employers to think twice about hiring women. It is not an effective law for women regarding equal pay.

    October 21, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  15. hopeandchange1

    The Corporation of Public Broadcasting receives $450 MILLION a year from TAXPAYERS, Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell received $956,513 in compensation in 2008. And, from 2003 to 2006, "Sesame Street" made more than $211 million from toy and consumer product sales. So if the only Big Bird "tragedy" is that the American taxpayer got ripped off–kick him out of the nest he makes enough to support himself.

    Next, Lilly Ledbetter is only useful if women HAVE JOBS. Nearly 5.5 Million Women Are Currently Unemployed – An Increase Of 451,000 Women Since President Obama Took Office. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, 10/10/12)

    Maybe Obama needs some "binders" because his failures have cost American women their jobs. The only females I have ever known as insecure and feckless as the those complaining about "binders" were still in puberty. Grow up.

    October 21, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  16. Anthony

    Romney is running a very small campaign. He has no plans to run on, except a tax cut plan that will actually add to the deficit. Romney does not provide details about the tax loopholes for the rich that he plans to close, because even if he closes all loopholes for the rich in the tax code, it will not be enough to pay for his tax cuts.

    October 21, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  17. Modern Democrats are idiots

    The inability to defend one's own record, clear agenda showing racial, gender and class bias warfare, all the while weakening the view of the US. abroad (to booth allies AND enemies) shows how weak this President has been, And his only job he had prior to joining politics was as a community organizer, and even then he showed the same inability to bring everyone together. He also shows clear "crybaby & spoiled" syndrome by getting all defensive with anger (but no substance) when anyone challenges his point of view (especially when he is wrong). All the while he organizes the modern Democratic Party to follow him, selling them on his "lemon" of leadership. I used to be a Democrat, until this country elected this waste of 4 years. Move on already. If Obama gets 4 more years our country will have more than just our credit rating downgraded, and then who can the whining Democrats blame then? The idiots will still be blaming Bush.

    October 21, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  18. JuJuBee

    Walter – Mitt's tax return is public record. His deductions were made up primarily of charitable contributions, home mortgage interest, state taxes and investment expenses.

    October 21, 2012 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  19. James

    what a jerk POTUS has proved, and continues to prove, to be

    October 21, 2012 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  20. mjw

    Romney does not diserve to be president. The economy is starting to improve from the disaster the president received when he took over. If Romney wins he will benefit from all the policies this president has in place to improve the economy and just like Bush did after President Clinton , Romney will destroy it again. We cannot afford that is the same pattern as the rich kid who wants to be president and has his rich friends buy the position for him.

    October 21, 2012 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  21. Randy, San Francisco

    There are a lot of voters who grew up with Big Bird and are not happy with Romney's threat to withdraw financial support from PBS.

    October 21, 2012 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  22. Wanderer

    Big Bird, Binders, and Romnesia, where do they come from?
    From lying, flip flopping, and the changing position from Romney's moderate positions taken during the general election campaign with his more conservative stances taken during the fierce Republican primaries. Even of other GOP candidates were defeated by these Romney’s skills. People of America, you don’t have to defeated by Romney’s skills: Lying, flip flopping, and changing position.

    October 21, 2012 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  23. Marc

    It sure is funny how folks get upset when Pres Obama tells the american people just how lame Rom is as for me as an american glad that we finally have a PRES that will pull the cover off all those LIES. OBAMA ALL THE WAY

    October 21, 2012 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  24. anne

    But republicans think its funny to call Obama names. The 47% that Romney insulted are apparently too stupid to realize they were insulted.

    October 21, 2012 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    For the love of god people pay attention to what is being said. Romeney said there will be NO SPECIFIC TAX DEDUCTION THAT HE GETS RID OF. What he is going to do is set a limit on teh amout you can deduct. Meaning middle class and poor people will not be affected only the super rich will be affected becasue they will not longer be able to deduct hundred of thousand of dollars or even millions of dollars becasue fo the cap. Also if you think the PBS getting shut down is the biggest problem we have then please leave the country becasue you don;t have a clue. Sesame street WILL BE PICKED UP BY ANOTHER TV STATION AS WELL AS ALL THE OTHER GOOD PBS SHOWS. I know it is hard for you socialists to understrans but its called capitalism and it works. Pretty fricken sad the best thing obama can run on is romnesia and big bird instead of stating what good he has done for the country wich is NONE. But there are people so ignorant in this country they don't even notice

    October 21, 2012 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
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