A new ad by Obama for America (embedded below) that targets presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s hidden Swiss bank account is the latest in the campaign’s effort to call the former Massachusetts governor’s economic policies into question.
Taking a page from Republican strategist Karl Rove, the president appears to have prioritized attacks on Romney’s perceived strengths, in a calculated bet that November’s election will still hinge on the economy.
“As a corporate CEO, [Romney] shipped jobs overseas to places like Mexico and China,” the ad claims. “As governor, he outsourced state jobs to a call center in India. He’s still pushing tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. It’s just what you’d expect from a guy who had a Swiss bank account.”
The ad arrives at the same time as a web campaign that elaborates on the increasingly familiar drumbeat of economic attacks on Romney. With “Mitt Romney’s Record,” team Obama highlights countries all over the world that benefited from Romney’s activities as a CEO and governor, and cites specific examples of Romney-linked companies that sent U.S. jobs overseas. They even have an infographic detailing Romney’s foreign holdings, in countries like Ireland, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Switzerland and others.
Obama’s advisers, much like Romney’s Republican rivals, have been rumbling about this very same campaign dirt since January, so it should come as no surprise to the former governor’s campaign, which appears to have resorted to distraction instead of a head-on rebuttal. True to form, Karl Rove and the Romney campaign are also attacking their opponent’s greatest strengths, launching counter-narratives seeking to undermine the accomplishment of killing terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and Obama’s high level of support among students.
Playing off an ad released by the president’s reelection team, Romney and his supporters have questioned Obama’s decision to tout the killing of bin Laden for political gain. Meanwhile, Rove’s American Crossroads PAC is working to cut down on the president’s support among young people, with an ad depicting Obama as a celebrity instead of a leader, traveling around the world to fawn for adoring crowds while American students suffer. It asks at the end, “After 4 years of a celebrity president, is your life any better?”
That familiar campaign meme was rebutted Sunday by Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs, who seemingly dismissed the idea of blaming the poor economy on Obama. “I think sometimes you listen to the Romney campaign and they do think a lot people in this country are stupid,” Gibbs told NBC’s David Gregory. “Their message is: You didn’t clean up our mess fast enough.”
He added: “The last six months of the Bush administration, we lost three and half million jobs. We know this about Mitt Romney: He’s not a job creator. When he was governor of Massachusetts, they were 47th out of 50 in job creation. His experience is in downsizing, outsourcing jobs and bankrupting companies and walking away with a lot of money for himself.”
Gibbs’ message was right in line with what Obama’s top political adviser, David Axelrod, said recently on CNN’s State of the Union. Claiming that most Americans simply don’t know who Romney is yet, Axelrod tipped his hand and promised that voters will soon become “very familiar” with Romney’s economic policies, which he called “backward looking and a repeat of what got us into this mess in the first place.”
He was singing the same tune on a conference call with reporters three days later, on April 25, during which he officially welcomed the press to the general election campaign. “His business career was not about job creation,” Axelrod reportedly said. “It was about wealth creation for himself and his partners, and it often came through vehicles like outsourcing, leveraging companies with debt, bankrupting companies and making money off of those bankruptcies. Oftentimes that cost jobs, and certainly wages and benefits. It didn’t create them.”
Based upon both campaigns’ opening salvos in just the first act, Obama and Romney’s advisers would seem to be reading from the same playbook — meaning Americans are essentially doomed to seven more months of ever-escalating, attack-fueled campaigning.
This ad was published to YouTube on May 1, 2012.