Campaigns debate Big Bird, binders and Romnesia
October 21st, 2012
02:39 PM ET
8 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. Name gmbhadiza

    Romney is doing great. As the campagn is progressing and as more issues come up, he takes a final stand before the election. He knows what the electorate wants and takes that stand. Should he stand at a spot that no one wants? No. He will make a great president because he listens and adjusts as necessary. He thinks fast and acts fast. He will be a doing USA President, Godwilling.

    October 22, 2012 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  2. Tim

    Obama is a child??? Let us look at calling the President of the United States a muslim, a socialist, the Affordable Health Care, Obamacare... now if that isn't childish I don't know what is... shall we mention other childish things our of the mouth of your candidate??? roll down these airplane windows, the trees grow at the right height here, sack big bird, binders full of women, single mothers cause gun violence... the list goes on and on... OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    October 22, 2012 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  3. Namedavid burnham

    Does everyone seem to forget that the airhead george "wacko" bush got us into this mess in the first place?

    October 22, 2012 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  4. NameDoug

    Keep America out front in the free world-VOTE for our Honest Trustworthty PRESIDENT

    October 22, 2012 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  5. Namemaximusgary

    Obama is a clown and a disaster. The Divider In Chief will say and do anything to distract from his record. This guy was never qualified to run a small business yet alone the greatest country in the world.

    October 22, 2012 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  6. shut_up

    cling to guns and religion
    57 states
    you didnt build that
    dont ask and dont yell
    it was the video

    enough said, no wonder the pile of shiiite wants to change the subject! LOL

    October 22, 2012 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  7. clarke

    CNN you just keep repeating the same stories but with different headlines/ Why is that?

    October 22, 2012 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  8. Scott

    Mr Obama seems to forget that in 2008 he painted himself as extreme left politically to beat Hillary in the primary and then as a more moderate to beat McCain. Mr Pot meet Kettle....

    October 22, 2012 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  9. tarura

    Remember Gorbachev? He was the last president of the USSR and helped greatly in its collapse and demise. He did that to his own country.

    Obama is to the US like Gorbachev to USSR. Collapse and demise is inevitable if he is re-elected.

    OMG (Obama must go) ! ! !

    October 22, 2012 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  10. Clear on Conscience

    BLUF: Romney has become a complete CHAMELEON! He and his supporters honestly don't care about the TRUTH or INTEGRITY – but becoming whatever is trending in order to "be" something HE IS NOT. HE IS A LIAR, however...let's be honest and STOP RECREATING HISTORY all over again – like many Americans like to do. These supporters tell history differently than it actually happened and have the audacity to purport it as if it were actually truth. The Bible talks of such hypocrites and how they will call wrong right and right wrong. But it all comes out in the wash...GREED and CORRUPTION are Romney's middle name. His 47% comment wasn't a mistake – the fact that he got caught was his mistake. This man isn't a bit more concerned about common people other than how they can benifit him. His business record attests to how he operates...if it benefits his personal gain – destroy it. Just look at how many "small business" owners lost when they came up against Baine...check it out for yourselves and stop drinking the Kool-aid!

    October 22, 2012 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  11. DrIncognitus

    Coining the term "Romnesia" may seem a little petty, but it is a way to bring to the public's attention something that is not a small issue at all. Romney keeps changing his position on almost everything. We really have no idea what he believes, or what he would actually do if elected to the the most powerful position in the World. That is a big enough issue that it should make him unelectable.

    October 22, 2012 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  12. KBNJ

    Romney should accuse Obama of "First calling Benghazi an act of terror in the Rose Garden, then calling it a spontaneous protest, then going back to calling it an act of terror three weeks later – the President must have "Romnesia" I'd LOVE to be a fly on the wall watching the CNN "fact checkers" writhe over that one.

    October 22, 2012 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  13. SoldierOfConscience

    All I know is that Romney is the only candidate that will protect the unborn humans. So he has my vote.

    October 22, 2012 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  14. Debra White

    It was okay when they reduced themselves to Obamacare and all the negative comments about the presidents mom, and God knows what all the negative comments over the years. Romney appears accustomed to doing his dirt unchallenged!

    October 22, 2012 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  15. haterofsin

    Obama has realised that, contrary to his held assumption that he would easily defeat Romney, he has realised that the tide is going against him. Romney has better economic plan than Obama.

    October 22, 2012 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  16. Bob R., Maryland

    Can't come up with a more biased headline than this – truth hurts, huh?
    How about $4+ trillion dollars in debt – courtesy of G.W. Bush and 8 years of Republican control
    no budget – courtesy of Norquist and the Repubican Tea Party-controlled Congress
    shovel ready jobs – none, courtesy of Republican do-nothing House
    Solyndra bankruptcy – courtesy of business people greed and theft
    and no security=dead ambassador – courtesy of Rep. Ryan (R-WI) and his pals

    October 22, 2012 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  17. glennwharris

    Those retirees in florida must have a lot of loot and are financially well set. Mitt has stressed he is going 2 kill all fed medical and social programs. Maybe they figure they wont b affected cause they may not b around much longer. Hope their kids,family,and relatives r financially set. Mind boggling frame of mind. 2 each their own. U will regret voting 4 pubs. Gdubglenn

    October 22, 2012 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  18. Elmer Fudd

    Sorry, but I think Romnesia is a fitting thing to call Romney, especially when it's 100% true. Romney has flip-flopped so many times I think even he has lost track of where he stands on issues at any given point in time. He speaks with a forked toungue, as it used to be called.

    October 22, 2012 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
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