WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney’s advisers are pleased with the reaction to their first TV ad of his campaign, saying they are successfully engaging with the person they view as their chief rival -- President Obama -- by including an intentionally deceptive quote from him in their ad.
“It’s all deliberate. It was all very intentional,” Eric Fehrnstrom, a Romney senior adviser, said after last night’s debate in Washington. “We want to engage him on the subject he wants to avoid, which is his failure to create jobs and get this economy moving again.”
“They should probably order some more defibrillators for the Obama reelection committee, because their reaction was quite hysterical,” he added. “But that was the point.”
Romney’s 60-second ad, which started being broadcast yesterday in New Hampshire, shows a video clip of Obama saying, “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” What the ad fails to mention is that the clip is from Obama in 2008 quoting from an aide of his GOP rival, John McCain.
Democrats, news organizations, and liberal groups immediately called foul, saying the quote was out of context in a way that shouldn’t be fair game even in rough-and-tumble politics.
“Seriously?” White House spokesman Jay Carney said to reporters yesterday, as Obama was traveling to New Hampshire. “I mean, an ad in which they deliberately distort what the president said? I mean, it’s a rather remarkable way to start, and an unfortunate way to start. And I’m pleased to see numerous news organizations point out the blatant dishonesty in the ad.”
In a press release announcing the ad on Monday night, the Romney campaign included more complete context for the quote. But the vast majority of voters who see the ad may not hear about the full context.
Fehrnstrom said it was the job of the media to provide the full context, not the campaign.
“You guys have it,” he said. “If you do your job [voters] will learn about it.”
With the campaign’s first ad focused solely on President Obama, it seems clear that the Romney campaign is already moving toward the general election. Some top Democrats concede that they, too, have moved to focusing almost solely on Romney, believing that he will be the Republican nominee.
“He’s our main rival,” Fehrnstrom said. “The reason that Mitt Romney is running for president is because of the sorry state of the economy. That’s the fault of Barack Obama - not Ron Paul’s fault.”
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.