One thing you can’t accuse President Obama of being is a trickster.
In November 2011, after chuckling his way through the dozenth Republican presidential primary debate like it was the season finale of “Arrested Development,” Obama revealed his 2012 campaign strategy to a group of Hispanic journalists.
“I don’t think it requires us to go negative in the sense of us running a bunch of ads that are false or character assassinations,” he said. “We may just run clips of the Republican debates verbatim. We won’t even comment on them; we’ll just run those in a loop.”
As it turned out, he wasn’t kidding.
Just as promised, the Obama campaign has released an advertisement against Mitt Romney using nothing but the presumed Republican nominee’s own words, and it’s more devastating than anything Atwater, Rove, and Luntz could have created on their best day.
Twice the ad plays Romney’s emphatic, boastful claim that he was “a severely conservative Republican governor,” a statement that will serve Romney in the general election by aligning him with the 10 percent of the American people who, according to polls, identify themselves as “very conservative.”
It quotes Romney voicing his opposition to Roe V. Wade, Planned Parenthood, and the DREAM Act. It highlights the former Massachusetts governor’s support for the Blunt Amendment and a constitutional amendment establishing life at conception; for letting the housing market go bust and for letting Detroit go bankrupt. It uses Romney’s own words, “unfortunate” and “tragic,” to describe his position on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. And it dedicates plenty of time to the Ryan budget, which Romney describes as “an excellent piece of work,” and which Rep. Paul Ryan himself has been assured will be the budget platform of the Romney Administration.
The 2012 general election may prove to be unlike any presidential race in modern history. There appears to be no need to defame, sensationalize, or mischaracterize—at least not from the Democratic Party’s side. As always, the presidential nominee of each party bears the burden (or blessing) of being seen as the representative, spokesman, and lead champion of all that the respective parties stand for.
Being conservative in 2012 means supporting tax breaks for millionaires and tax subsidies for oil companies. It means advocating for transvaginal ultrasounds and the end of preventative health care for women. It means turning Medicare into a voucher program, gutting 62 percent of federal programs for the poor, and generally embracing a modern form of “social Darwinism” that caters to the rich and destroys the American Dream.
It’s not your run-of-the-mill platform for a presidential candidate whose odds of victory are greatly hampered without the support of moderate voters.
Then again, Romney isn’t a run-of-the-mill politician.
He’s “a severely conservative Republican.”
With ads like these, that fact won’t be soon forgotten.