With a 9 percent U.S. jobless rate and housing values that continue to fall in many markets, Mitt Romney's campaign could arguably just work with the facts on hand to land some sharp blows on President Obama's economic stewardship.
But apparently the Romney campaign felt like the mere facts weren't enough for a new campaign ad that went up in New Hampshire Tuesday, timed for Obama's visit to the Granite State.
The negative ad drew a "pants on fire" penalty flag from the referees at PolitiFact for taking a comment Obama made during the 2008 campaign so completely out-of-context that it created a patently false impression.
The ad misleads by using a snippet from a stump speech by then-Sen. Obama.
PolitiFact provides the entire passage for context:
"Here's what Obama said in the October 2008 speech, which came about two weeks before he defeated Sen. John McCain:
" 'Even as we face the most serious economic crisis of our time, even as you are worried about keeping your jobs or paying your bills or staying in your homes, my opponent's campaign announced earlier this month that they want to 'turn the page' on the discussion about our economy so they can spend the final weeks of this election attacking me instead,' Obama said in the speech. 'Sen. McCain's campaign actually said, and I quote, 'If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose.' "
The Romney ad takes just one sentence and makes it appear that Obama was saying that the economy was his Achilles heel and suggesting that it was better for him to avoid talking about the economy. Obama was actually quoting someone in the McCain campaign. Romney's ad It quotes Obama saying:
"If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose."
PolitiFact goes on to deliver its judgment which seems pretty solid.
We certainly think it's fair for Romney to attack Obama for his response to the economy. And the Romney camp can argue that Obama's situation in 2011 is ironic considering the comments he made in 2008. But those points could have been made without distorting Obama's words, which have been taken out of context in a ridiculously misleading way. We rate the Romney ad's portrayal of Obama's 2008 comments Pants on Fire.
Another reason the Romney campaign's out-of-context snippet from Obama makes little sense is that Obama actually handed Republicans a self-damning soundbite. In a 2009 interview with NBC's Matt Lauer, Obama famously said that if the economy didn't recover in three years, his presidency would be a "one-term proposition." That is surely a moment Obama's campaign team wish they could have back.