The Corner

Obama Camp Paints Romney as Negative Campaigner

Right after releasing a positive Obama ad this morning, the campaign set about depicting Mitt Romney as a candidate who lacked vision, relying almost exclusively on tearing down his opponents rather than making the case for his own candidacy.

“Governor Romney has run by our estimate, and this includes his super PAC, something on the order of $55 million of media already in this campaign, and close to 90 percent of it has been attacking opponents,” said Obama strategist David Axelrod in a conference call with reporters this morning. 

“Mitt Romney truly has no record to run on,” said Obama campaign manager Jim Messina. Romney’s private-sector record, he added, consisted of “loading companies with debt, laying off workers and shipping their jobs overseas, and then making off with millions,” while his public-sector record included “increasing debt, raising taxes and fees, growing government, and shrinking jobs.” 

More negative ads may have run on Romney’s behalf than Obama’s, but as far back as August, Chicago signaled it intended to run negatively, with Politico reporting that the Obama campaign intended to “to center the president’s reelection campaign on a ferocious personal assault on Mitt Romney’s character and business background.” 

Axelrod also singled out Karl Rove, who runs American Crossroads, and the Koch brothers, for criticism.

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“We’re also going to be prepared . . . to respond to the attacks that we expect to continue, not just from the Romney campaign, but from the Karl and Koch brothers contract killers over there in super PAC land who are going to continue to pound away on behalf of Governor Romney,” he said. There was no mention of whether he intended to ask the super PAC supporting Obama to refrain from running attack ads.

Asked about Joe Biden’s comments on gay marriage, Axelrod stressed again they were in line with the president’s position on gay marriage, namely that “couples who are married, whether they are gay or heretoxexual couples, are entitled to the very same rights and very same liberties.” 

He also criticized Romney’s opposition to forcing religious employers to provide contraception to their employees. “Contraception obviously is another place where Governor Romney would take us back 50 years and suggest that any employer could dictate whether a woman has access through her insurance to contraception,” Axelrod said.

“President Obama would like for voters to believe he hasn’t been president for the last three years,” said Romney spokesperson Amanda Henneberg in a statement reacting to the conference call. “Americans are disappointed in President Obama’s liberal policies that haven’t made their lives any better. President Obama just hasn’t lived up to his promises. It’s harder to get a job, buy or sell a home, and those fortunate enough to have jobs often have less in their paychecks. Mitt Romney will get our country back on track and stop the middle-class squeeze of the Obama economy.”

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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