Campaigns debate Big Bird, binders and Romnesia
October 21st, 2012
02:39 PM ET
2 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. Mike H.

    Remember the Republican convention in 2004 when thousands of delegates and right-wing supporters launched into a chant of "flip flop"? It sounded juvenile and mocked the Democratic nominee's alteration in philosophy over the span of many years when presented new information. This year these same Republican supporters are completely ignoring their candidate's constant "flip-flopping" despite no new information being a consideration. The Republicans will do anything and say anything to get Obama out of the White House, and will take our country down doing it.

    October 22, 2012 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  2. InsanityIntheUSA

    It's really rich when the Republicans need to resort to saying Obama is name calling when they plainly have done the same for the last 4 years.

    Let's just call a spade a spade and admit that the Republicans have no leg to stand on when it comes to any issues in this campaign.

    October 22, 2012 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  3. Roger Ogilvy Thornhill

    Romnesia - I love it. It sums up Romney's lack of conviction in one word.

    October 22, 2012 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  4. NoTax

    Liberals is rush to pack theirs stuff for Europe, mexico and Cnada. The end of debate

    October 22, 2012 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  5. cparker1170

    I sure wish CNN would start reporting some real news. Maybe if their candidate wins the election they will go back to reporting some real news. Everyone knows they are in the tank for Obama. CNN refusing to report what the real news of this country has taken a back seat to their support of the most crooked Chicago style president I have ever seen. CNN you should be ashamed. You used to be respectable.

    October 22, 2012 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  6. Independent

    From binders of women to truckloads of women.

    Just disgusting.

    Mitt does not fit, so you must omit.

    October 22, 2012 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  7. DanH

    At least they are saying Romnesia is a mental disease and therefor all the flip-flopping,blatant lies,pandering etc. are not just due to Romney's lack of ethics and Christian values(proverbs says lying is an abomination)I do find it interesting that Republicans never address all the examples of Romnesia just the term.So are they outright lies or Romnesia pick one to explain Romney's pandering,flip-flopping,lying etc.

    October 22, 2012 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  8. Thomas Jorno

    You have to love the Grand Ole Party. They say it's not presidential when Obama picks at Romeny's responses to issues that entail equal pay for women, inconstancy in plans and lack of thought in where cuts need to be made. Yet, their man making birther comments is grade-A presidential material.

    October 22, 2012 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  9. Ann

    Dear neighbour, now Romney started saying how concerned he is about the middle class after he was caught calling you losers, now Obama is speaking re women, and Romney is taking after this idea. doesn't Romney have any ideas of his own? He is a Rep. and he will do what Bush did!!! Removes controls from financial institutions, lower taxes on the rich and put the fragile financial world over into a depression worst than ever seen before. What is wrong with you people/ Why don't you see through the man. He had a losing record in Mass., left billions in debt. Wake up, don't listen to hus rhetoric!!!! He is just another bag of wind who only cares about the rich. He does not know what you have been through. He has never been without like most of us. When he said he would get a woman mechanic to fix his wife's car he said " Ill get a woman to fix my wife's Cadilac. He has never had a bad day or a day without food in his life!!!!

    October 22, 2012 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  10. cparker1170

    Some posters here are clearly brainwashed. Most media outlets aren't reporting the real news. We are stuck on crap like Big Bird and Bain capital which is small potatoes compared to what Obama is doing to this country. You can't compare it to our 16 trillion in debt or our 4 dead Americans in Libya. You just swallow what the media is spoon feeding you. Think for yourselves people. Romney hasn't screwed you nearly as bad as Obama has. When gas prices are $5 a gallon and you can't find a job just go get your welfare check and free birth control pills and make some more babies for our new reality. Seriously, I am single mom and no one has ever given me a handout nor have I had it easy. I think Obama is just silly and I am not stupid enough to buy his lies! I'd rather work for a living. Signed the 53 % who do not get WELFARE.

    October 22, 2012 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  11. iTeach

    I'm with Walter. I'm a simgle mom and a teacher making 41k. I paid about 22% in taxes. I don't have investments because I don't have extra $ to invest. It takes every dime to survive month to month. Romney can talk about firing Big Bird and binders full of women all he wants but what will he do to really fix the tax discrepancy between the millionaires and middle class bordering on poverty level people. I'm educated and I work hard everyday. It should count for something besides a kick in the teeth by the millionaire tax man with no acceptable plan. I felt he was making it up as he went at the last debate; telling us what he thought we wanted to hear. He forgets that Congrss has to pass it and there is a huge chance the won't.

    October 22, 2012 03:05 am at 3:05 am |
  12. Terry

    Anyone who has had a good high-powered job knows that resume's come to managers in a binder (male & female).
    Obama is ruining our free nation. It will only be worse if he is re-elected!!! There will be nothing left of us @ the end of another painful, draining 4 years!
    Romney & Ryan are our ONLY hope!!!

    October 22, 2012 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  13. Matt

    Walter...There is no way your daughter pays 27% in taxes if she makes $60K. Her standard deduction of $9,750 at tax time would put her tax rate at the end of the year at 14.4% or $8,694 in federal taxes on a $60,000 income. That tax rate is without taking into consideration any additional deductions she may take. The biggest issue I have with people talking about the percentages they pay is that most of America doesn't even pay 15%. You basically need to be single, make $65,000, and take no additional deductions to even get to 15% in federal taxes. To put it in perspective, 63% of HOUSEHOLDS make less than that. If you include married people the $65,000 jumps up to roughly $75,000 and that's 70% of America making less than that in a household (number is probably about 67% due to some people being single).

    October 22, 2012 04:03 am at 4:03 am |
  14. mitt

    romnesia obamacare fact is romney has changed and evolved alot.

    October 22, 2012 04:10 am at 4:10 am |
  15. mittens

    why is it that nothing is being said about the laws that Obama is trying to past to improve on the economy is being sabotaged by the republicons to keep Obama from serving a second term. why isn't more media attention on the Debolt company that makes the voting machines and are installing computer chips utilized to flip votes in favor of the republican party.They are able to do this remotely from a half mile range. Debolt of course is a republican and is a close friend of George W. Bush.

    October 22, 2012 04:33 am at 4:33 am |
  16. Name David

    I think everybody is way off track. Our country has a lot more problems than Big Bird and womens pay, debt, jobs, defense etc, important things that matter. President Obama has done nothing but put us in debt and has made us a weak nation.He talks a good game thats it!

    October 22, 2012 04:49 am at 4:49 am |
  17. Name Butch

    Womens pay, how about senior citizens on social security. We still want to work but we are punished if we make to much money by takiing a part of our ss money. Let us make as much as we want after all we pay taxes on that income and ss taxes
    Don't keep us down.

    October 22, 2012 04:58 am at 4:58 am |
  18. Gold

    Pres obama sounding like bullying romney,its very unpresidential attitude,i thought there s a law against bullying!,he should tell american his plan for NeXT 4 years,I'm registered dem ,but im disappointed.

    October 22, 2012 05:31 am at 5:31 am |
  19. Name

    After all the mishaps of Romney, who in the world would vote for him

    October 22, 2012 05:32 am at 5:32 am |
  20. daniel

    Romney changes his positions depend on the blow of polatical wind ar even changes his colour like Camelion. Wrong person to be elected as a President. RE-ELECT OBAMA.

    October 22, 2012 05:43 am at 5:43 am |
  21. Chedar

    Romney would have been a good alternative to Jon Huntsman when Huntsman leave the race. But his constant "Flip Flop" that sounds like Slipper scares me. He is in desperation to win this but just like what his helper say, we'll do the " Etch and Sketch" to fool the gullible American for voting Romney.

    October 22, 2012 05:58 am at 5:58 am |
  22. Artie

    Gov.Bush took 8 years to drive this country into a tar filled ravine. Obama has tried to pull us out in only 4 and admittedly has struggled. However if Obama's efforts are hurting this country then I garantee Romney will completely destroy it in less than two years if elected. At this point Obama is the lesser "evil" per se of the two, granted my 18 month old daughter could do a better job at this point.

    October 22, 2012 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  23. Lancater

    Yes, we have a comedian running for president and a vice president laughing at all of his jokes. We can see how important and how serious he is about our situations us real Americans are in! The Joke team! USA is a joke, just like the people voting for these 2! So Shameful

    October 22, 2012 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  24. REDFIRESTORM

    GOP kingmakers to flex strong muscle behind romney irregardless of debate outcome- done deals

    October 22, 2012 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
  25. Abel

    Hey Obama, just a thought... But if you need help balancing the budget just pick any American keeping their head above water to help. If they have figured out how to balance out a budget of being broke to survive I promise they can balance the budget for you. It aint that damn hard to do...

    October 22, 2012 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
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