In a new ad out today, the Romney campaign uses a word that they had eliminated from their vocabulary in recent weeks: “liberal.”
“Who will raise taxes on the middle class?” asks the narrator. “Barack Obama and the liberals already have. To pay for government-run healthcare, you’ll pay higher taxes and more for your medicine. And their plan includes a trillion dollars in higher taxes. Even on the middle class.”
In contrast, the narrator continues, “Mitt Romney and common-sense conservatives will cut taxes on the middle class. And they’ll close loopholes for millionaires. Obama and his liberal allies? We can’t afford four more years.”
Based on a search of press releases from the Romney team in my inbox, the only other time a Romney TV ad used the word “liberal” was in the primary. In a February Michigan spot, Romney said, “President Obama did all these things that liberals have wanted to do for years. The fact that you’ve got millions of Americans out of work, home values collapsing, people here in Detroit are distressed.” The last time the Romney campaign has used the word “liberal” in a statement sent out to media outlets appears to be August 7, when campaign spokesman Ryan Williams included this sentence in a statement on the announcement that Jimmy Carter would do a speech by video at the Democratic convention: “From Day One, Mitt Romney will deliver a new direction that emphasizes pro-growth policies — not the failed liberal policies of the past.”
At the Republican convention, the word “liberal” was hardly used. Romney didn’t use it once in his convention speech, and according to a search of transcripts, the word “liberal” was only used six times during speeches at the convention.
The reluctance to use the term has been surprising. After all, 75 percent of Americans think of themselves as conservative or moderate, according to Gallup, while a mere 21 percent see themselves as liberals. And the Democrats seem to realize that the word “liberal” doesn’t have positive connotations with voters: Only three speakers at their convention used the word “liberal.” The Romney campaign has been stressing that this is a choice election, so why not make that choice more obvious by calling President Obama the liberal that he is?