Born In The U.S.A.
At an event in Commerce, Michigan this morning Mitt Romney referenced his roots in the Great Lakes State by making a comment that the Obama campaign denounced as an allusion to the persistent, discredited questions about President Barack Obama’s citizenship.
“No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised,” Mr. Romney said.
Ben LaBolt, national press secretary for the Obama campaign, quickly issued a statement condemning Mr. Romney’s “birther comments.” The Romney campaign countered that the remark was simply a nod to Mr. Romney’s birthplace.
Earlier this week, Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund Inc., a group of former U.S. intelligence and Special Forces personnel, launched a campaign criticizing President Barack Obama for unfairly taking credit for killing Osama bin Laden and leaking national security information for political gain. This is the second high-profile attack on the president from ex-elite military operatives. Last month, Ryan Zinke, a Montana State Senator and former commander of Navy SEAL Team Six, started a super PAC, Special Operations for America, which is dedicated to supporting Mitt Romney and hitting President Obama on leaks and on politicizing Bin Laden’s death. According to Mr. Zinke, these two super PACs are just the first salvo in what will be a sustained assault on the president by high-level ex-soldiers.
“There’s a number of groups out there,” Mr. Zinke told Politicker this morning. “I think what it demonstrates is, there’s a lot of anger, there’s a lot of concern among the former military community.”
At an event in South Carolina today, Mitt Romney rebuffed the repeated questions the Obama campaign has raised about him not revealing more than two years of his tax returns by claiming he’s paid at least a 13 percent tax rate for the past decade.
“I did go back and look at my taxes, and over the past 10 years I never paid less than 13 percent. I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that. So I paid taxes every single year,” Mr. Romney said.
Obama campaign national press secretary Ben LaBolt was asked how the campaign would respond to Mr. Romney’s claim on a press conference call with reporters this afternoon. Mr. LaBolt’s answer was simple. He said Romney should “prove it” by releasing more of his returns.
Last night, the presidential campaigns each accused the other of dragging down the level of discourse in the election. Mitt Romney fired first with a speech in Chillicothe, Ohio, where he accused President Barack Obama of acting “angry and desperate.” Mr. Romney made his charge based on comments Vice President Joe Biden made during a speech in Virginia that Mr. Romney’s policies would enable banks to put people “back in chains.”
“His campaign and his surrogates have made wild and reckless accusations that disgrace the office of the presidency. Another outrageous charge came a few hours ago in Virginia. And the White House sinks a little bit lower,” said Mr. Romney. “This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like.”
The Obama campaign quickly followed up with a blistering statement of its own calling Romney “unhinged” and “strange.”
On the heels of reports by Vanity Fair and the Associated Press detailing Mitt Romney’s offshore investments in Switzerland, the Caymans and Bermuda, the Obama campaign released a new video featuring on-the-street interviews with people who don’t have offshore investments.
“I wouldn’t have an overseas bank account and I don’t think our next president should have an overseas bank account either,” a man says in the clip.
Though the Obama campaign has repeatedly attacked Mitt Romney for his career at Bain Capital, President Obama still accepted $7,500 in campaign contributions from two Bain executives. His campaign press secretary, Ben LaBolt told The Politicker the president has no intention of giving the money back.
“No one aside from Mitt Romney is running for President highlighting their tenure as a corporate buyout specialist as one of job creation, when in fact, his goal was profit maximization,” said Mr. LaBolt. ”The President has support from business leaders across industries who have seen him pull the economy back from the brink of another depression, manufacturing and the auto industry revived, and support his agenda to build an economy that lasts where America outinnovates and outeducates the rest of the world and economic security for the middle class is restored.”
The Cutting Room Floor
After calling the Obama campaign’s repeated attacks on Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital “nauseating” during an interview Sunday, Newark mayor and Obama campaign surrogate Cory Booker released a video where he clarified his stance while reiterating his distaste with negative campaigning on both sides.
Obama campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt subsequently distributed two heavily edited versions of the video that only included Mr. Booker saying “it is reasonable and, in fact, I encourage it, for the Obama campaign to examine” Mr. Romney’s business record because he has made it “a centerpiece of his campaign” and criticizing Mr. Romney as “not being completely honest” about his career. This morning, The Politicker sent Mr. LaBolt an email asking why he edited the video and what his response was to Mr. Booker’s call for both sides to stop the negative campaigning.
“Mayor Booker released the full video which was widely distributed – we highlighted the portion of the video in which he addressed whether or not a discussion of Mitt Romney’s private sector record was appropriate,” Mr. LaBolt wrote. “He made clear that it is – that it’s the central premise of Romney’s candidacy and that Romney had not accurately represented that record.”
Sounds of Silence
Former President George W. Bush expressed his support for Mitt Romney in a brief exchange with an ABC reporter as he boarded an elevator after a speech in Washington, D.C. today.
“I’m for Mitt Romney,” Mr. Bush said.
Though ABC posted the story over two hours ago, Mr. Romney’s campaign has yet to send out any official press release or statement trumpeting Mr. Bush’s endorsement. On the other hand, the Obama campaign quickly pounced on the chance to tie Mr. Romney to Mr. Bush, who according to the most recent polls is viewed unfavorably by the majority of Americans.
President Barack Obama’s campaign is playing defense on his record of support for gay rights as fallout over Vice President Joe Biden’s comment he’s “absolutely comfortable” with same sex marriage continued for a second day. Mr. Biden’s remark led to criticism the president isn’t taking a firm position on gay marriage, most recently from former New York Governor George Pataki who blasted President Obama for “looking to have both sides” on the issue in an RNC conference call this morning. Ben LaBolt, the national press secretary for President Obama’s campaign fired back by characterizing the president as a strong supporter of the gay community and accusing Mr. Romney of planning to reverse progress the Obama administration has made on gay rights.
“Mitt Romney deployed Governor Pataki today to call for consistency on gay rights. Governor Pataki must not be familiar with either the President’s record or Governor Romney’s,” Mr. LaBolt said in a statement. “The President has done more to advance gay rights than any other president – from securing hospital visitation and medical decision-making rights for gay partners, to repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, to advancing equal rights and benefits for gays and lesbians.”