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. Chuck

    The Ghosts of Presidents Past, are shaking thier heads

    October 21, 2012 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  2. deb

    I don't get how the romney campaign has a problem with "romnesia." My guess is that they think the electorate is too ignorant to see the flip flopping and then the lies about the flip flopping. Everyone should be insulted or let romney explain all is 180s and return 180s.

    October 22, 2012 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  3. Shame on CNN

    Obama's main weapon in this campaign - MOCKERY! That says enough about his record and his plans for next 4 years ...

    October 22, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  4. Shame on CNN

    CNN is so biased .. Romney campaign is not debating big bird, binders and Romnesia - but rather dismissing such small-minded mockery that kids indulge in .... Its Obama campaign that wants to keep these silly words highlighted and CNN is helping them with that ...

    October 22, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  5. Silver State

    Obama's campaign strategy: small-minded attacks. Has any presidential candidate ever won on this kind of negative campaigning, this late in the game? He looks petty. I think it will only serve to keep the momentum moving toward Romney. Obama offers no plan for the next 4 years. Plus, we deserve answers about why security agents were not moved from Tripoli to Benghazi to protect our ambassador. It all looks like a cover up.

    October 22, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  6. Meetwrongme

    Mitt Romney was pro-gun control and now he is against it. He was pro-choice and now he is against that too. Mitt Romney was previously pro-healthcare and now he is anti-healthcare. But these are just a very few examples of of crazy Willards stances on everything important for voters. You may vote for him now because you like what your hearing but don't be surprised If and when he takes office and then he does a 180 on issues that were important to you during the time you dropped your ballot.Very sketchy character and no integrity. Buyer beware.

    October 22, 2012 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  7. Polopoint

    Sure. Way to go CNN – "Campaigns Debate Big Bird and Romnesia". Such ace reporting on the 'important topics'. No wonder people, meaning voters, are either apathetic or wound up into a mindless frenzy over stupid things.

    Thank the media, kids.

    October 22, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  8. Dizzyd

    I'm surprised ANYONE would vote for that guy, seeing how cold and cruel he is, Fellow Woman in CA. But then again, ppl seem to want that nowadays.

    October 22, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  9. rdeleys

    How any intelligent person could possibly vote for Romney is beyond me. I've pretty much given up on this country. Too much ignorance and idiocy.

    October 22, 2012 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  10. rhorto01

    Yep. We might as well flush the country down the crapper right now. I cannot believe a "news" organization is pushing these as our most pressing issues driving tis election.

    October 22, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  11. Dillweed

    If by some slip of fate Rawmoney becomes president, we should start mixing the Koolaide as we will have screwed ourselves big time. The guy makes 20 + million per year doing absolutely nothing. Why would a guy like that run for the presidency?? Power and greed. A vote for Rawmoney is a vote for the powers that got us into this fiscal mess in the first place.

    October 22, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  12. ReidsterOly

    How can POTUS speak of Romney changing pairings when he his changes have been FAR MORE EGREGIOUS! Not cutting the debt in half but doubling instead means it us 4 times higher than he said it would be. Not closing Gitmo. Adding to Afganistan instead of drawing down. Not halving unemployment. He has lost my vote in this election and I expectant others who put him in office.

    October 22, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  13. Forget me not

    Yes, the embassy was attacked and four Americans died. Have we already forgotten what happened with GW and the twin towers? How many dems were holding conferences and bashing The President? We came together as a nation, instead of what Romeny did. Talk about bad taste. GoBama

    October 22, 2012 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  14. trying2save

    Obama became the president when everything was chaotic, after 8 years of Bush/republican presidency. Economy, wars, Housing mess, jobs, bailouts, Osama bin laden etc etc.......

    After 4 years of Obama's rule, the question is are we less chaotic than we were before 4 years. Talk is cheap but republicans were unable to deliver after 8 years of Bush presidency.

    In case of Obama we can say – Yes he delivered in certain areas and America is better....Looks like Obama deserves a second chance.

    October 22, 2012 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  15. rootdown

    Even my 63 yr. old strongly Republican mother knows Romney is a two face liar. First time her and I will be voting the same. I would rather use my face to put out a camp fire, than to have Ole Mitty be Prez.

    October 22, 2012 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  16. Name BJ Foreman

    And who coined the phrase: Obamacare? LMAO. Has our political election evolved into candidates and parties foregoing plans and solutions to judging rhetorical terminology? Wow! What a joke. It is time a visionary and uniquely average person offered true change. Maybe I should run without a dime and see if people can distinguish a solution from a phrase!

    October 22, 2012 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  17. Vanessa

    It's getting closer to the election & though every 4 years we tend to say this is the most important election, i do believe this one is.. Our rights as females are at stake! Our rights to have a choice what to do with our bodies.. Our choice to have equal pay. Please people vote for us. Men vote for the rights of your wives, mothers & daughters! !Obama/Biden

    October 22, 2012 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  18. Bald_Eagle1776

    FACT CHECK: (1) As to Romney's "binder full of women", the Boston-based non-partisan coalition of women’s groups MassGAP said in a statement yesterday that it spearheaded the process and compiled a roster of female applicants for top jobs in the state in 2002, then “presented this information to the administration for follow-up interviews and consideration for appointment.” A study by the University of Massachusetts and the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy shows that the percentage of women in senior positions during his tenure dropped in real numbers. It went from 30% when Romney became governor to 27% when he left. It climbed back up after the new governor took over.

    (2) Romney also, did not have a history of appointing women to high-level positions in the private sector. Romney did not have any women partners as CEO of Bain Capital during the 1980s and 1990s. By contrast, 8 out of 23 cabinet or cabinet-rank positions in Obama's current cabinet are occupied by women.

    (3) Mr. Romney as governor supported anti-women legislation. As pointed in the New York Times Editorial of Oct 17, 2012, "Mr. Romney forgot that he vetoed a bill as Massachusetts governor in 2005 that would have given women who were raped access to emergency contraception, or that he supported an amendment this year that would have allowed any business to opt out of the contraceptive mandate, or that he has said he would support a state constitutional amendment that would declare that life begins at conception — potentially making some kinds of contraceptives illegal."

    October 22, 2012 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  19. Penny Wright

    George W. Bush inherited a strong economy, a budget surplus, and a nation at peace.

    Eight years later, he left Obama with a shattered economy, a trillion dollar deficit, and two useless wars.

    Obama saved the country from another Great Depression, rebuilt GM, reformed healthcare, reformed Wall Street, doubled the stock market, created 12 straight quarters of GDP growth, created 32 straight months of private sector job growth, got Bin Laden, got Gaddafi, and got us out of Iraq.

    And now with the automatic spending cuts and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts in 2012, Obama has solved the deficit problem as well.

    Obama has done a very good job.

    October 22, 2012 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  20. Name Sam

    Romney have no plan, is real flip flopper. Obama for 2012.

    October 22, 2012 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  21. Tom Kostro

    In response to the "Romnesia" clever remark... President Obama's lack of recalling his own record and broken promises is a bit "O'bominable" too, don't you think?

    October 22, 2012 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  22. Dismayed

    At this stage of the game, it is uncomprehensible how many people fail to see through Mitt's deceitful, secretive nature, and his straight up disdain for the working class. ( not to mention the other 47%). Nobody seems to care that he is hiding his tax records from the very people whose trust he asks for. Nobody seems to care about his undeclared policies which he plans to unveil only *after* his supposed innauguration. How do we know what they will be, when he changes every 24 hrs?? .This man only knows one thing: he wants to be president and you are supposed to simply go along with it! Don't question anything, just blindly give him your vote.

    October 22, 2012 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  23. Diablo13(

    Anonymous, maybe you should ask Obama why women in the White House he paid 18% less than a man doing the same job.

    October 22, 2012 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  24. Geoff

    The republicans are whining like spoiled rotten children because the democrats are fighting dirty - just like the Karl Rove led republicans in 2000 and 2004. If not for McCain being somewhat decent, it would have been the same in 2008. Republicans need to grow up and accept responsibility for what they say and do for a change. Anyone who supports today's brand of republican politics cannot be a patriot and love this nation! Penguins are smart enough to know better than to ever vote for a republican!

    October 22, 2012 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  25. SurfNturf

    CNN give up now – will you? You made him the Prez the first term. For heaven's sake let democracy choose the president this time.

    October 22, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
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