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. Liz the First

    The Big Bird issue is important. it speaks to the republicans' opposition to anything that smacks of intelligence. they'd defund NPT but fund any war they can find, or start! the reason is simple. stupid people tend to vote republican, so they do everything they can to keep people from developing critical thinking skills and a broader world view. this explains why they're so opposed to abortion in the case of incest. inbreeding creates more stupid people and grows the republican base. our country can't survive another 4 years of idiots running the country. we barely survived the 8 years of Bush the Lesser. in this day and age, we need the smartest folks we can find at the helm. we already have one at the top, we fire him at our great peril.

    October 21, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  2. Golden Girl

    The best thing Obama can do for Romney is remind voters he has supported legalized abortion in the past.

    October 21, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  3. BCaseyC

    So they make up these terms... "Romnesia"... and hammer the Big Bird deal... I've seen this sort of thing before... in people that can't atually have a rational conversation. What they do is try to belittle and marginalize by calling names, and trying to make the opposition look foolish. It's childish, and non-productive. Now... when you see this sort of behavior in our leaders... well.. that's kind of scary actually. These guys have to go.

    October 21, 2012 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  4. krejaton

    This country has significant problems and all the President of the United States can give us is Big Bird and binders?

    I am through considering casting my vote for Obama–his campaign is a pathetic disaster and he has no ability to focus on what concerns me.

    October 21, 2012 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  5. Codger

    Romnesia: is that something like not remembering that you were talking about an obscure video as the cause of demonstrations (that never happened) that developed into a spontaneous violent murderous rampage for two weeks after the event? Oh wait, that can't be it, because O DID remember that he happened to use the word "terror" once in a speech the day after the event.

    October 21, 2012 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  6. edmundburkeson

    I think big bird could write a better song for Obama than Bruce Springsteen.

    October 21, 2012 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  7. john oh

    "('Romnesia' is) quite frankly a silly word for the leader of the free world to begin uttering,"

    Looks like Madden has a case of Romnesia if he cant remember Romney uttering "Obamaloney".

    At least "Romnesia" is funny and quite applicable. Whereas "Obamaloney" is just childish.

    October 21, 2012 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  8. Robert

    I thought Romnesia was a country in Africa. For reals.

    October 21, 2012 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  9. teatbag

    Republican plan to save America – Kill Big Bird.

    October 21, 2012 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  10. CronoT

    Standard GOP tactic: Use mud slinging & innuendo to taunt the opponent, & then scream bloody murder when you get slapped with your own tactics.

    Rush Limbaugh & Newt Gingrich perfected those tactics over a decade ago. The GOP party hasn't bothered to move on or grow up since.

    October 21, 2012 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  11. Martin

    The CV's of candidates for senior positions in both the private and public sectors can be quite extensive, and are often kept in binders. Therefore the term " binders full of women" simply refers to a list of female candidates.

    Why do people make it sound like he was referring to a catalog of mail order brides?!

    October 21, 2012 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  12. joefromvt

    I feel that these two clowns are small players in the circus of corrupted American politics. With the citizens united ruling they are both spending so much money to attack each other and distract us away from the real problems in this country. We might already know who we are voting for but have no idea what our candidate will actually do to help America. Mitt Romney still hasn't laid out a feasible plan to fix the economy.And Obama turned out to be a typical politician who said what he needed to just to get elected

    October 21, 2012 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  13. Yep

    "('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."

    Actually, it's the perfect word for a leader of the free world to articulate because it's true!!!!!!!!!

    October 21, 2012 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  14. aktap

    Romnesia lol I love it! its the very soul of his being. just waite till this guy gets elected? see who he remembers? who he takes care of? want to bet its you and your family? thats like going to Vegas and playing with your life just like chip's on the casino tables LoL You lose, house win's, game over.

    October 21, 2012 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  15. mdaneker

    People act like Obama shouldn't point out that Romney doesn't get that the Endowments For The Arts (that covers PBS) is just pennies next to Defense, Medicare and Social Security, that he shouldn't point out that Romney was a Liberal before he was a Conservative before he was a Moderate, that he changes positions on a moments notice, event to event.

    October 21, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  16. pimpson

    They can hit him back with Obamunism at any point, but it's not even necessary. This race is over, Obama is finished

    October 21, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  17. michael

    Obama supporting equal pay for women? Check the numbers for the white house. On average, women make 18% less than men.

    October 21, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  18. friedporkchop

    he paid 14% on his capitol gains. He does not pay payroll tax. How many times does this need to be explained. He lives off his investments and that is taxed differently than salary pay.

    October 21, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  19. Mark

    Let's not discuss Obama's past 4 years of failure which this election is really all about. No, no, let's talk about petty diversions. But then what else can a candidate do if he CAN NOT defend his failed record.

    October 21, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  20. Tact

    There are hypocrites on both sides of each political party. Calling one out over disagreeable tactics is not the issue here and furthermore positions you as pawns in their political schemes. The term "Divide and conquer" comes to mind and in the end it is we the people who are conquered. For anyone to not see the lies and deceit coming from both truly brands such as sheep to their parties agenda. Sad but true.

    October 21, 2012 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  21. Mark

    They ask the details of Romney's plan to change the tax system and lambast him when he doesn't produce specifics. That simply shows their lack of knowledge because the executive can only SUGGEST to the congress regarding the tax code. They write the tax laws not the executive. That is why he can only make suggestions and makes reference to the congress getting together to work out tax law changes.

    October 21, 2012 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  22. Ann

    Obama is running on empty and will do and say anything to win. It's a fact that women actually did get jobs in MA when Romney was Gov. How else could they see your resume????? DUH... Most successful business keep files, folers and yes... binders.. of resumes so they can choose the proper candiate for the job. Is Obama so desparate that he has to pick on his? Of course he cannot run on his record. Quote the famous words of Jackson Browne..."running on empty..

    October 21, 2012 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  23. myway

    in case any voters have doubts how Romney wil handle American jobs, I suggest reading this recent Forbes magazine article: How Mitt Romney Invested Millions in Outsourcing. Google it, it's easy to find. It shows why it's complicated to pin Romney with his M&A fallout, which usually means job losses. Therefore in his illustrious career he wasn't a job creator, he routinly destroyed American jobs.

    October 21, 2012 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  24. Name

    Why would you bring up the ambassador? Obama had as much control over that as bush ha over 9/11 2001. Which bush was re-elected after.

    October 21, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  25. rickinmo

    Romney's campaign should take some time to look at their candidate. They accuse Obama of being short of details when Romney hasn't given a single detail on his grand tax cut. The term used to describe Romney is accurate. After the treatment of Kerry in 2004, they complain about a word created by Obama. I prefer a silly meaningful word over lies and distortions. They can't deny Romney has changed numerous positions on very important issues in the past and he continues to change. His positions are new at each debate. At the next debate he'll be a Baptist.

    October 21, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
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