Faux Outrage Of The Day: Obama Called Romney A “Bullshitter”

Ben Smith passed along an anecdote in the Politco Playbook this morning that is apparently considered news by some people:

FIRST LOOK – Rolling Stone cover, “Obama and the Road Ahead: The Rolling Stone Interview,” by Douglas Brinkley: “We arrived at the Oval Office for our 45-minute interview … on the morning of October 11th. … As we left the Oval Office, executive editor Eric Bates told Obama that he had asked his six-year-old if there was anything she wanted him to say to the president. … [S]he said, ‘Tell him: You can do it.’ Obama grinned. … ‘You know, kids have good instincts,’ Obama offered. ‘They look at the other guy and say, “Well, that’s a bullshitter, I can tell.”‘”

The comment even made it into onto the campaign trail:

RICHMOND, Va — After President Barack Obama reportedly suggested during an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine that Republican challenger Mitt Romney was “a bull—–er,”  adviser Dan Pfeiffer said his comment points to underlying “trust” issues with Romney.

“What is true is that trust is a very important part of the election,” Pfeiffer, who said he had not yet seen the article, told reporters during Obama’s campaign swing through Florida, Virginia and Ohio Thursday. “The president is someone who says what he means and does what he says and Gov. Romney’s answers in the debates on domestic issues and foreign policy raise real questions about that.”

In a forthcoming article in Rolling Stone, Obama reportedly told author Douglas Brinkley that children can instinctively tell that his opponent is “a bull—–er.” Politico published an excerpt Thursday morning.

David Weigel points out that this isn’t the first time we’ve seen some off color language on the campaign trail:

The late-game presidential cuss word is a factor with some precedent. In the last week of the 1968 campaign, Richard Nixon slipped and said that the campaign was “getting down to the nut-cutting.” In 2000, most famously, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were unaware that a mic was picking up their conversation about New York Times reporter Adam Clymer. “Major league asshole,” said Bush. “Big time,” said Cheney. And Politifact wasn’t even around to discuss whether this was true.

And, hey, look! Both Nixon and Bush won close elections.

Indeed they did. I mean, we already knew that Obama didn’t really like Romney very much. Is anyone really surprised that he referred to him like this?

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. alkali says:

    This seems like a calculated gaffe, if such a thing exists. (“Whoops! Romney was called a nasty name that relates something he’s frequently criticized for in an on-the-record interview published just 10 days before the election!”) I’m sure the Obama campaign regrets this greatly.

  2. Crystal Gimesh says:

    Shouldn’t the President hold himself to a higher standard than this?

  3. MM says:

    The entire faux-civility concept is one of the most ridiculous in America today. You can call someone a communist or a Nazi, or suggest that all Muslims should be interned or exterminated. But whatever you do, don’t swear!

    Any toxic idea, no matter how awful is acceptable discourse, but saying the same words that will make a movie PG-13 instead of PG is unacceptable for some reason.

  4. legion says:

    Of course it’s news. Any time an actual piece of truth leaks out into campaign coverage, it’s a major event!

  5. Jr says:

    Presidents have had potty mouths for years now. You should listen to the tapes of JFK, LBJ, and Nixon.

  6. David M says:

    @Crystal Gimesh:

    Shouldn’t the President hold himself to a higher standard than this?

    Not only no, but hell no.

  7. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Maybe I’m out of the loop, but where pray tell is this an outrage? Hell, I frequently call Romney a “bullshitter” and I’m going to vote for him the week after next.

  8. J-Dub says:

    @Crystal Gimesh:

    Shouldn’t the President hold himself to a higher standard than this?

    Shouldn’t Romney hold himself up to a higher standard than being a bullshitter?

  9. Geek, Esq. says:

    Does anyone think Romney’s not a bullsh!tter?

  10. J-Dub says:

    President Obama plays golf so I’m sure he has said worse things.

  11. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Well, I gotta respect this declaration. It comes from Obama, the Bullshitter-in-Chief, who picked Joe Biden, King, Queen, and Jack of Bullshitters, as his running mate. If there’s anyone who knows bullshit and bullshitting, it’s Obama. He could be called into court as an expert witness on bullshitting.

  12. sam says:


    President Obama plays golf so I’m sure he has said worse things.

    God knows I have.

    Golf joke.

    Alien craft lands in woods next to golf course. Scout goes out to look around, and comes back and says to crew mates:

    “These creatures are very strange. Evidently there this is a game they play where they hit this little ball and then walk up to it and hit it again. There seem to be a lot of names for the game and they seem to be connected with the hitting. ‘Shit’, ‘Fυck’, ‘Goddamit’, ‘Jesus Christ’, ‘Son of a bitch’, were only some of the names I heard.”

  13. Tillman says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I like how you “respect” it but don’t comment on its accuracy.

  14. C. Clavin says:

    Nice of Obama to tone it down in front of the kid…rather than calling Romney a bald-faced liar…which he most certainly is.

  15. C. Clavin says:

    The bullshitter line is OK…but this part of the interview is far more abusive (and thus funnier):

    Have you ever read Ayn Rand?
    What do you think Paul Ryan’s obsession with her work would mean if he were vice president?
    Well, you’d have to ask Paul Ryan what that means to him. Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we’d pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we’re only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we’re considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity – that that’s a pretty narrow vision. It’s not one that, I think, describes what’s best in America. Unfortunately, it does seem as if sometimes that vision of a “you’re on your own” society has consumed a big chunk of the Republican Party.

  16. ernieyeball says:

    According to my thesaurus one synonym for obscene is outrageous..
    Did the righteous among us call out Romney for being obscene with his 47% remark?

  17. HomerB says:

    Plz re-read the quote. He says that “they (referring to the kids) look at the other guy and say that’s a BSer” so either his kids or the kids he knows use foul language or this guy is full of BS. He will say anything to get re-elected. Wake up America and realize you’re being played by this guy.

  18. cd6 says:

    He will say anything to get re-elected. Wake up America and realize you’re being played by this guy.

    I agree with HomerB

    We can’t elect somebody who will just say anything to get elected.

    And so, don’t vote for Obama
    Vote for steady-as-a-rock, iron willed, never-changed-a-position in his life Mittens Romeny.

  19. MM says:

    @Crystal Gimesh: Why? What would that standard do exactly? How would it make Obama a better person, or a better president if he had said liar, or grifter, or “full of manure”?

  20. HomerB says:

    @cd6: Ah yes the typical democratic deflection response. Remember what your mommy told, you when you point at someone 3 fingers are pointing back at you. Sorry I had to dumb that down but I am talking to a group who still likes to drink their kool-aid and screams I know you are but what am I, I’m rubber and you’re glue………grow up people and truly research all the empty promises he’s made

  21. David M says:


    Politifact has a run-down of the promises made by Obama, and the report card looks pretty good.

  22. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Crystal Gimesh: Well, as much as I’d like the President to hold himself to a higher standard, I consider the venue and the readership and conclude that he probably met the expectations of the audience fairly well.

    As to the content, neither one of these two yahoos (nor the libertarian candidate, as far as I can see, Doug,) has a rabbit to pull out of his hat onany of the issues facing the country, so…

  23. An Interested Party says:

    I like how you “respect” it but don’t comment on its accuracy.

    He can’t comment on its accuracy truthfully, otherwise he’d be a bigger bullshitter than Romney…

  24. An Interested Party says:

    Hell, I frequently call Romney a “bullshitter” and I’m going to vote for him the week after next.

    Well of course you are…birds of a feather and all…

    Wake up America and realize you’re being played by this guy.

    Ha! Meanwhile, Romney’s just being so honest with you…tell me, which is the real Romney? The one who was governor of Massachusetts? The one who ran in the Republican primaries? Or the one who is running now? Talk about being played…

  25. C. Clavin says:

    Romney is appearing tonight at a fundraiser with Glenn Beck and Dick Cheney.
    So does anyone think his tack to the center is BULL$HIT????
    Obama is right…Romney is a bullshitter.

  26. HomerB says:

    @David M: Seeing that on october 21, the tampa bay times (who runs Politifact.com) publicly endorsed obama, we need to rule out their words / slanted commentary and look at their data. Its also important for everyone to read past the headlines to get their news i.e. romney says let detroit go bankrupt (headline from ny times that liberals love to show) had they read the article, he said let them go through chapter 11 bankruptcy that does provide government protection and would not have cost the taxpayers as much. Plus the government now owns 32% of GM, which puts us more in the model of china where the government owns industry. Oh, did i also read today that chrysler is moving their Jeep manufacturing to china? Why didnt president BS Obama prevent that? Anyway, back to the scorecard. First its pretty disappointing that you are happy with 32% of promises kept but let’s look closer at his record.

    I wont go thru all 500 promises, lets just look at the top 25 from that same article. Of the 25, 12 were not kept or are “in the works”. Of the 13 remaining, 9 were kept or 36%. Lets look at those 9. None of which have anything to do with the economy. 1, pull out of iraq, done but left no peace force so terrorists are coming back. 2 end use of torture, torture is how we got info on where bin laden was remember bin laden is dead and terrorism is on the run (behngazi). 3 reduce nuclear stockpiles. Again making the US weaker not to mention this : Jake Tapper of ABC News reports that an open microphone caught President Barack Obama telling outgoing Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that he would be prepared to yield to Russian demands on missile defense after his re-election, but needed more “space” until then. Hmm the romney 47% comment is blasted everywhere but when was the last time we heard about this comment, or how obama is the only president who has ever bowed to a saudi arabian king? 4. Centralize lobbyist information. Wow he created a website, however one of his broken promises was to eliminate lobbyists altogether. 5, reform mandatory sentences, so he let non violent drug offenders get less time in jail. That just adds to his unemployment numbers 6, tougher antitrust laws, = more government control in the private sector, 7 create new financial regulations, yeah hows that workin out for us?we’re governed by the 4 largest banks, 8, sign a universal health care law. done but Romney willing it will be repealed. Lets also look at how he spent $8.3 billion on a demonstration that postponed a medicare advantage increase to seniors until after the election (look up darrel Issa oversight committee) and 9 another health insurance item that has not yet gone into effect and will end up costing small businesses a lot more which will reduce jobs. One item that he compromised on was more secure borders and yet his admin is suing arizona because their laws are too tough, would also like to get to the bottom of Fast and Furious but that wont happen until after the election. Btw, his tough sanctions on iran were place in July 2012, if he is so determined to stop iran, why didnt he do this on day 1 of his term? Now lets look at the reality of the economy.

    WASHINGTON, Sept 29, 2012 (AFP) — Under President Barack Obama, the US economy has pulled out of the deep 2008-2009 recession. But growth remains feeble, as many key indicators of economic health show.

    Here is a scorecard of economic performance under Obama:

    GROWTH: When Obama took office in January 2009, the economy was severely contracting, losing 5.3 percent in the first quarter of 2009. It began recovering within months, but growth in the second quarter of 2012 was still a very weak 1.3 percent.

    JOBS and JOBLESSNESS: In the three months from January 2009, when Obama took office, the economy lost an average of 780,000 jobs per month. The economy began adding jobs again in March 2010, but in the three months to August 2012, the figure averaged a low 94,000 a month, barely enough to keep up with population growth. The jobless rate in January 2009 was 7.8 percent, rising to 10.0 percent in October that year. Now it is 8.1 percent.

    Meanwhile, the number of official jobless has fallen from the peak but remains close to where it was in January 2009, while those who have dropped out of the jobs market has increased.

    Jan 2009 Oct 2009 Aug 2012

    Official number of unemployed: 12.05 mn 15.42 mn 12.54 mn

    Stopped looking for jobs: 5.68 mn 6.02 mn 6.96 mn

    EARNINGS: Unadjusted for inflation, average weekly earnings have risen to $809.09 from $751.22. But when inflation is figured in, earnings are down by almost $3.00 a week.

    POVERTY: The number of people receiving food stamps under the government’s SNAP program has risen from 14.5 million households to 22.4 million households (June 2012).

    GOVERNMENT FINANCES: The national debt has risen to $16.0 trillion from $10.6 trillion. The deficit has fallen from $1.41 trillion in fiscal 2009 to a projected $1.13 trillion in fiscal 2012. The government’s credit rating, from Standard & Poor’s, was cut last year for the first time ever, to AA+ from the top-level AAA.

    GASOLINE: One gallon (3.8 liters) of gasoline has doubled to $3.66 from $1.81.

    STOCK MARKET: The S&P 500 stock index has rebounded from 826 to 1,441.

    HOUSING MARKET: The median price for new homes has recovered from $208,600 to $256,900. But the percent of all home loans either delinquent or in foreclosure is virtually unchanged, 11.9 percent for the fourth quarter of 2008 and 11.6 percent in the second quarter of 2012.
    Btw….this scorecard came from a Chinese newspaper www. sinchew-i interesting how we look in the eyes of our biggest enemy. When you get past his southern baptist revival type romney bashing campaign, you’ll see that there is no substance, no record or no future obama can offer. Please open your analytical minds, dont fall for the hype and the smear campaign and dont put him back in for another 4 years, i really don’t want to have to move my family to canada.

    Personally, i am an independent or a ron paul supporter, however we can only choose between dem or rep. Given the record, the country could only do better with mitt, obama had his chance and failed miserably. I think we can do better then 32% of the promises kept and an economy that is in the tank with no new agenda to get us moving again.

  27. gVOR08 says:

    @HomerB: I hope you cut and pasted that from somewhere. Otherwise, you need a life.

  28. An Interested Party says:

    Given the record, the country could only do better with mitt, obama had his chance and failed miserably.

    This is an interesting statement in light of the fact that Romney has said that he needs at least 8-10 years to fix a problem that the President hasn’t fixed in just under 4 years…the logic behind that must be IOKIYAR…

  29. David M says:

    @An Interested Party:

    You noticed that as well. Romney: “It’ll take 8-10 years to fix the deficit that is smaller than the one Obama should have fixed in 4”.

    What a load of nonsense.

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:


    GASOLINE: One gallon (3.8 liters) of gasoline has doubled to $3.66 from $1.81.

    The utter stupidity of this comment speaks for itself.

  31. Herb says:


    “grow up people and truly research all the empty promises he’s made “

    I have to say….this line or argument has always confused me.

    Which of Obama’s broken promises do these guys think Romney is going to keep?

    When Obama wins re-election, can we count on this (possibly fictional) cohort to rally around the president? Or is that when we will hear a different argument?

  32. J-Dub says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: In addition…

    It’s not economically feasible to extract tar sand oil if gas is at $1.81. So if you want North American energy independence, expect higher gas prices. You can’t have it both ways.

    Add to that the Keystone pipeline which will allow them to move that oil past the midwest and to Texas refineries where it will be made into diesel fuel instead of gasoline and sold on the world market. That will decrease our domestic supply of gas and also increase prices.

    If you believe anything oil companies tell you, you are a fool.

  33. homerhk says:

    Doug, you post here and say this is a faux outrage, with which I agree. But, you are happy to tweet an article that says PBO bring campaign rhetoric to a “new low” – which one is? Faux outrage or real outrage?

  34. maggie says:

    I have read the article in Rolling Stone, (several times). He does not call Romney a bullshitter, although the “other guy” in his hypothesis can be inferred as Romney if you are looking to make some big story out of this.
    The whole thing was a joke about giving little kids (6-12) the vote because they have really good instincts about who is sincere and who is not. And they will let you know it. something we adults have been trained not to do, because God knows in this day and age everything you say or do can be blown out of proportion if it suits someones talking point of the day! So the Prez SHOULDA known that “bullshitting” with a reporter was gonna blow up in his face once anyone read the article. I knew it when I read it and I ain’t all that smart!

    But in my opinion the words bullshitter and politician are interchangeable, I don’t care WHO OR WHAT office you are running for!

  35. al-Ameda says:


    Sorry I had to dumb that down but I am talking to a group who still likes to drink their kool-aid and screams I know you are but what am I, I’m rubber and you’re glue………grow up people and truly research all the empty promises he’s made

    Speaking of ‘wake up and smell the Kool Aid” ….. Mitt Romney has, by definition, made more empty promises and empty statements than any person in America today. He routinely makes a statement, stakes out a position, and either denies it it or backtracks from it constantly.