#USelections2012: The Bain of Romney’s existence

When politicians attack; Obama’s surrogate calls his attack ads nauseating; Romney denounces Rev. Wright revival.

May 22, 2012 16:01
3 minute read.
US President Barack Obama at NATO conference

US President Barack Obama at NATO conference 370 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Jim Young)


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With less than six months until election day, the primary campaigns effectively over and the prize finally in sight, US President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney are taking off their gloves. The latest wave of attack advertisements go right for the jugular, but not before rippling their way through YouTube and the Twitterverse.

Romney released his first television ad of the general election this week, entitled “Day One,” highlighting all the things he would do to bring jobs back to the economy.

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Granted, it’s not the most bloodthirsty ad out there. Fighting dirty looks bad, candidates know, and staying above the fray looks good. But that doesn’t stop the really dirty campaigning from happening altogether.

This week, Romney rejected a planned ad campaign by a Republican Super PAC to revive the less savory elements of the 2008 election and take them even further, doing “exactly what John McCain would not let us do.”

According to the New York Times, the group had drawn up a plan entitled “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good” (named for Don Rickets, one of the operation’s major funders), which aimed to portray the US president as a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.” BuzzFeed conveniently pulled out a little-used ad from 2008 along the same vein:

Romney soundly rejected the plan (thought the Super PAC could still act without him). That’s not the kind of candidate he wants to be, he said, unlike Obama whose “campaign is a campaign of character assassination. “

Romney, who has made his extraordinary business success as the CEO of private equity firm Bain Capital a centerpiece of his campaign, was referring to the Obama campaign’s recent strategy of attacking the sometimes unsavory practices associated with the business.

That may have seemed like a good way to go, until one of Obama’s own surrogates, Newark Mayor and Twitterer extraordinaire Cory Booker lambasted the negative campaign strategy on “Meet the Press”:

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Not realizing that calling the US president’s strategy “nauseating” might cause a stir, Booker blithely tweeted:

But his grandmother wasn’t the one who was upset. Immediately, a Twitter battle emerged over what is fair game in a presidential race, putting Booker on the defensive. Within hours, he Tweeted a video statement “clarifying” his position that an “avalanche” of negative ads risk “muting out the voices of the candidates” on issues that matter.

More striking than Booker’s video response, however, was a Tweet recalling the heady days of the 2008 election, when his candidate did not need to rely as heavily on attack ads.

Given the difficulty Obama’s had in recapturing the magic of his first run, the US president surely wishes he could bring that Obama back as well.

#USelections2012 offers weekly insight into the US Presidential election through a social media lens, tracking candidates as they try to reach 270 electoral votes in 140 characters or less.

The writer is a Breaking News editor and blogger at The Jerusalem Post. Read his blog ‘The Bottom Line’ here.

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