Obama Campaign Tries To Distance Itself From “Mitt Killed A Lady” Ad, Lies In The Process

The Obama campaign told a few fibs in its effort to distance itself from a controversial Priorities USA ad.

When it realized that the public reaction to the Priorities USA “Mitt Romney killed my wife” ad was overwhelmingly negative, the Obama Campaign began doing everything it could to distance itself from the controversy. At first, this involved the standard response you always hear from political campaigns that they aren’t permitted to coordinate with SuperPACs. Yesterday morning on Morning Joe, for example, campaign spokesperson Robert Gibbs claimed to be unaware of any of the details of the ad itself even after the ad was played for him. Fairly quickly, though, they shifted to a new story and claimed that they had no knowledge of the story that Joe Stopic tells in the ad, despite the fact that he had told the same story on an Obama Campaign conference call only three months ago:

When President Obama’s aides said they weren’t familiar with former Missouri steelworker Joe Soptic’s life story, all they had to do was check their own campaign archives.

Soptic, laid off from Bain Capital-owned GST Steel, stars in a Priorities USA Action spot this week in which he tells of how his wife died without health insurance after he lost his job. Soptic also appeared, wearing what appears to be an identical shirt, in a May television ad for the Obama campaign.

Asked about the Priorities spot on MSNBC Wednesday morning, Robert Gibbs said he doesn’t “know the specifics” while Stephanie Cutter said on CNN: “I don’t know the facts about when Mr. Soptic’s wife got sick or the facts about his health insurance.”

And Jen Psaki told reporters on Air Force One that “we don’t’ have any knowledge of the story of the family,” according to Yahoo! News.

But Cutter hosted an Obama campaign conference call in May in which Soptic told reporters the very story featured in the Priorities spot.

You can listen to the entire conference call at the audio link here, or can listen to the portion of the audio where Soptic tells the story about his wife:

Soptic clearly tells the same story he does in the ad, adding in a few more details that probably ended up on the cutting room floor after Cutter turns the call over to him. The one thing that becomes immediately apparently while listening to Stopic in this call is that he’s quite obviously reading from a script, and it’s a script that includes political talking points (such as the distorted quote from Romney that he “likes to fire people”) that makes it blindingly obvious that the copy was written by someone in the Obama campaign and, mostly likely approved by Cutter or someone directly under her. This conference call took place on May 14th. The inescapable conclusion is that Stephanie Cutter lied when she said the didn’t know the details of Soptic’s story.

In addition to the conference call, Stopic appeared in two ads for the Obama campaign and, indeed, some have raised questions about whether the Obama ad and the SuperPac ads were shot at the same time, noting several similarities between the two ads. It’s understandable why the campaign wouldn’t want to associate themselves with this ad given the fact that it’s been nearly universally condemned and that the only person who appears to be defending it this point is forrmer White House Communications Director Bill Burton, who now runs Priorities USA. However, one has to wonder why they can’t just stand up and condemn the ad?  More importantly, one also has to wonder why Cutter and others in the Obama campaign would so blatantly lie about their knowledge of Soptic’s story.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Politicians, 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 for too young in July 2021.

Comments

  1. Nikki says:

    Wow. So now we know that both campaigns lie. Shocking.

  2. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Yeah, but Doug, it doesn’t matter, because Rove and Southern Strategy and SQUIRREL!!!!

    Besides, I’m sure Obama issued an Executive Order exempting his campaign from the law.

  3. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Besides, I’m sure Obama issued an Executive Order exempting his campaign from the law.

    There’s a law against lying in politics? Better build some new jails.

  4. So some guys left the Whitehouse, took a guy they knew about, and ran an ad they should not have done. That’s the Super-PAC system.

    They got dirtier than a direct “I approve this message” would have done. That’s the Super-PAC system.

    I didn’t listen to the call, was Gibbs actually on it? If not it kind of makes sense that the Whitehouse did not know, and did not want to know, what the attack-PAC was doing.

    That’s the Super-PAC system.

  5. Nikki says:

    Hey Doug…is two the limit for posts on how outraged the outrageous Obama campaign has made you today? Sure you don’t want to tap out another post on Harry Reid and what a lying liar that liar really is? Heck, there’s still time and plenty of space for a few more on Soptic and Priorities USA.

  6. mantis says:

    @john personna:

    That’s the Super-PAC system.

    Yes, and if Republicans work within that system the Supreme Court gave us, it’s freedom. If Democrats do it, it’s despicable.

  7. JBC says:

    Who cares? It’s effective, it will drive Romney’s personal favorability numbers down in swing states, and therefore it is true in the sense that it serves the higher good of reelecting Obama.

    Seriously, who cares about the petty ‘situational’ truth or falsehood of such things? Maybe the navel-gazing media types, but not big-picture folks who get what the stakes really are here. The only thing that matters is winning. “Integrity” and “morality’ in politics is for losers, it’s what they flatter themselves for having as they console themselves for their losses. Mondale? Loser. Dukakis? Loser. McCain? Loser. Obama is a winner, a competitor, and he knows that in a tight scrum sometimes you need to manipulate people’s emotions and be a little disingenuous to push them towards a larger truth. That’s okay with me — I happen to like winners — and it should be okay with any Progressive who is truly committed to the great cause of our time, namely reelecting Obama, keeping Obamacare in place, and returning the Supreme Court to its proper progressive orientation for the next generation.

    Anything — ANYTHING — Team Obama does that makes that outcome marginally more likely is by definition laudable, regardless of the temporary “situational” ethics. So stop your mewling, Mataconis, and get on board. We have bigger fish to fry here.

  8. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @mantis: It ain’t the lying, and you ain’t stupid enough to think that. It’s the ILLEGAL collaboration between the Obama campaign and the allegedly “independent” Super PAC that ran the ad.

    Yes, the Obama administration, Obama campaign, and these Super PACs are all the same thing, but they’re supposed to at least maintain a credible level of deniability about that. And they aren’t even trying.

  9. al-Ameda says:

    I’m just shocked that Democrats are using hardball Republican campaign tactics. For years Democrats let passively accepted the abuse and lost election after election. What caused Democrats to wise up and fight back?

  10. mantis says:

    @Jay Tea #13:

    It’s the ILLEGAL collaboration between the Obama campaign and the allegedly “independent” Super PAC that ran the ad.

    Prove it, and while you’re at it back up your claim that the White House has “exempted” the campaign.

    Yes, the Obama administration, Obama campaign, and these Super PACs are all the same thing

    Possibly, but how is that different from the Republican’s campaign and SuperPACs?

  11. @Jenos Idanian #13:

    First, the left has wanted campaign reform, and an end to the “not coordinated” game.

    Second there is no indication the campaign and PAC coordinated, or broke the rules in that game. They know the same people, have the same goals. They all heard about Soptic,

    Just like people inside and outside McCain’s campaign heard about Joe the Plumber.

  12. stonetools says:

    Its not clear to me that public response to the ad was overwhelmingly negative.Maybe you have some poll numbers?

    What’s clear is that :

    1. The media thought there were factual inaccuracies.

    2. Right wing response was overwhelmingly negative.

    The Obama Administration’s response was (wink, wink) we have no connection with that ad because we’re complying with the law. Its the standard way for political campaigns to distance themselves from controversial ads by third parties.

  13. Herb says:

    However, one has to wonder why they can’t just stand up and condemn the ad?

    Really?

    I do not have to wonder. I know. “You play to win the game.”

  14. rudderpedals says:

    This morning’s full court press on chickensht incidentals reaffirms my belief in the immense power of this ad’s messages. Sorry about the fee fees but I hope the ad airs widely. It hasn’t been aired at all IIRC and already..this!

  15. Moderate Mom says:

    We don’t know what Gibbs knew about Soptic, so I’m willing to cut him a little slack. Just a little though, because how hard would it have been, when given the opportunity, to say that the ad went too far. But we do know what Cutter knew. Hell, she’s the one that introduces him on the conference call with reporters and then thanks him for telling his story. Either Stephanie Cutter is extremely stupid or she is a bald-faced liar when she said that she didn’t know Mr. Soptic’s personal story. With the release of the audio of the conference call, everyone now knows the answer. Stephanie Cutter is a bald-faced liar. Bill Burton is too, but the Beltway crowd seemingly already knew that given the interviews of Burton I’ve seen on cable.

  16. Modulo Myself says:

    The fact that all of Washington is ‘outraged’ by the horrible smear that a company who axed an entire factory might be seen to be responsible for the welfare of those they let go should be a warning sign about the claim’s effectiveness.

  17. LaMont says:

    Doug – just give it up!!! For every one negative ad against Romney there are at least two negative ads comming back to Obama that are blatant lies. Can you even categorize this ad as a blatant lie? Get over it – on to the next one!

  18. @rudderpedals:

    As I say in the other thread, not necessarily. It is just an ancient rule of politics that negative campaigning can create blowback. You are out to damage the other guy’s approval rating, but if you come across as too mean, too nasty, you hurt your own.

    Given a mean ad, the other side has a natural play handed to them.

    It is SOP to push back the negative on a too-negative ad.

    As stonetools says, there aren’t polls out on this yet, but it’s clear that this is the risk. This has always been the risk. It was there in the “daisy” ad.

  19. stonetools says:

    @mantis:

    Possibly, but how is that different from the Republican’s campaign and SuperPACs?

    Did you have to ask?

    IOKIYAR.

  20. MBunge says:

    @Modulo Myself: “should be a warning sign about the claim’s effectiveness.”

    I think it’s more about how…

    1. A great deal of the conservative/GOP agenda is pretty damn horrific when you get down to it.

    2. Nevertheless, the media and political establishment has to find some way of interacting with conservatives and Republicans on both professional and personal levels.

    3. So, no conservative or Republican is ever to be held accountable for the perfectly logical and predictable consequence of their own or their party’s advocated policies.

    Mike

  21. Moosebreath says:

    Doug calls Obama campaign and Harry Reid liars without a scintilla of proof, yet on the Romney welfare ad refuses to do so, even though it’s far clearer that they are pulling stuff out of their tuchas. Fair and balanced, just like Fox.

  22. stonetools says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    The fact that all of Washington is ‘outraged’ by the horrible smear that a company who axed an entire factory might be seen to be responsible for the welfare of those they let go should be a warning sign about the claim’s effectiveness.

    This. I’m beginning to think that the right wing outrage at this ad is not over the factual inaccuracy ( The right wingers have never been one to quibble about that) but about the underlying idea that Bain should have any duty whatsoever the employees it let go. To the right wingers ( and to Doug) that’s just capitalism at its best , and anything else would be a detour down the road to serfdom.

    Of course, the folks in the Midwest who are victims of that kind of capitalism don’t see it that way, which is why Priorities USA is continuing with its ad.

  23. @Moosebreath:

    He trusts the voters 😉

  24. MLW says:

    @Moderate Mom: She is both.

  25. RWK says:

    @JBC:
    JBC YOUR AS STUPID AS YOUR FINDINGS, YOU NATZIE,

  26. rudderpedals says:

    @john personna: OK I saw your comments in the other thread as well and read them as a reminder for moderation which is excellent advice.. This ad has it all though, the guy who worked hard and played by the rules losing it all, the looting mentality that caused it, and a situation workers can easily envision themselves suffering.

  27. Andy says:

    Stephanie Cutter lied when she said the didn’t know the details of Soptic’s story.

    Wait, are you suggesting that campaign operatives don’t tell the truth?

  28. stonetools says:

    SEK at LGN nails it :

    relying on an insurance system that’s only affordable when partially subsidized by an employer leads to a situation in which chronic unemployment is tantamount to a death sentence. They can’t even bring up that fact to refute it without ending up defending an untenable argument. So they deflect:

    Romney left Bain’s day-to-day operations two years before the evil plant closing. The plant was in financial trouble before Bain ever got involved.

    Because if they focus on the specific facts presented in this particular argument they might not be compelled to defend the current system on principle

    When I see commenters focusing on one detail or the other or on what’s in someone’s mind I know they are trying to avoid debate on the larger issue. Doug would much rather debate what the White House knew and when did they know it than the death toll arising from the inequities of the current system.

  29. RWK says:

    @Moosebreath: @Moosebreath:
    FAIR AND BALANCED IS NOT WORKING ,I THINK TERES ALOT MORE PEOPLE ON THE RIGHT, I, MEAN PEOPLE THAT REPORT THE NEWS FOR FOX , THE SAME OLD SPIN!

  30. RWK says:

    @Andy:
    EVERY THING ABOUT OBAMA, HE THNKS THIS IS NATZIE GERMANEY
    THEY SHOULD GIVE HIM THE TITLE OF ZIG,

  31. David M says:

    @RWK:

    Your keyboard might be defective.

  32. Herb says:

    @rudderpedals:

    OK I saw your comments in the other thread as well and read them as a reminder for moderation which is excellent advice.

    Truly…moderation in all things.

    However, and seriously JP, I’d like you to consider this. Dave Weigel wrote a piece about honest gaffes the other week, concluding that Romney’s Europe trip was full of them and that most of the “gaffes” on Obama’s side are more like gaffes-in-name-only.

    “(N)obody thinks that these gaffes are entirely legit. Nobody believes that the outrage over them is real—because it isn’t! Mitt Romney’s campaign sets up stages…”

    And the drama plays out on them.

    This ad situation is no different.

    Yesterday they were in high dudgeon about the suggestion that Romney killed this poor woman. Today it’s about Robert Gibbs and this other lady denying he knows the guy. (Which saint was it that denied Jesus when it was convenient for him to do so? Point being….it’s a forgivable sin.)

    “Nobody believes the outrage is real…because it isn’t.”

    It’s absurd to think Mitt Romney’s campaign will gain any advantage by complaining about ads, except for one thing: He doesn’t want to talk about his tax returns.

    Jenos, I think we’ll all agree, is somewhat –ahem– silly, but I think he hit the nail on the head with his “SQUIRREL” comment upthread. After all…..what’s a more important topic of discussion? The mega-rich candidate for president who refuses to release his tax returns or even a coherent economic plan?

    Or Priorities USA? (I take it these guys will be the Moveon/ACORN stand-in this year…..)

  33. Nikki says:

    @RWK: And please learn to spell “Nazi.”

  34. KansasMom says:

    Elect Romney and we will have thousands of more Ranae Soptics. Unless they all move to Massachusetts that is. Pretty simple.
    The rest is just the toxic afterbirth of Citizens United. Be careful what you wish for.

  35. @Herb:

    Oh, I think on the fundamentals Obama has it. As I’ve been needling myself, the Republican plan for the poor and middle class is to cut taxes on Mitt Romney.

    It’s just that when I hear variations of “the Republicans have been lying for years, now it’s our turn” I worry.

  36. jukeboxgrad says:

    doug:

    The inescapable conclusion is that Stephanie Cutter lied when she said the didn’t know the details of Soptic’s story.

    The inescapable conclusion is that you’re leaping to a conclusion that suits you. This is what Cutter said:

    I don’t know the facts about when Mr. Soptic’s wife got sick or the facts about his health insurance

    Consider these two statements:

    A) I don’t know the details of Soptic’s story.

    B) I’m not in a position to verify or corroborate any claims he made.

    How do you know she meant A and not B? And if she meant A, how is that untrue? It could mean ‘I don’t know the details beyond what I heard in the ad and in the conference call.’

    Also, it makes sense that she would say she doesn’t know “when Mr. Soptic’s wife got sick” because no one really knows.

    So where is the lie?

  37. mantis says:

    @stonetools:

    When I see commenters focusing on one detail or the other or on what’s in someone’s mind I know they are trying to avoid debate on the larger issue. Doug would much rather debate what the White House knew and when did they know it than the death toll arising from the inequities of the current system.

    Indeed, and this is the strategy. Each of these elements that explicitly focus on Romney’s wealth and experience in private equity are also telling a larger story and reflecting bigger issues. His refusal to release his tax returns is a good opening for attack, but the deeper message is our system that rewards wealth over work and keeps widening the divide between the ultra-rich and everyone else. Stories about companies that were dismantled by Bain are good openings for attacks on Romney’s vulture capitalism, but they also point out why universal health care coverage is so essential (and Romney’s experience governing confirms this, much to Republicans’ dismay). Stories about Bain, Romney, and oursourcing are good jobs related attacks, but also tell the deeper story of how the more “free” the market is, the more essential a robust safety net becomes. As each new attack on Romney comes out, I am continually impressed at the Democrats’ ability to tie it to the bigger issues that really concern Americans, and I think we may just have a real national debate about the inequity of our economic system and the real harm it has caused all but the richest of Americans, who are making out like bandits. Bandits like Mitt Romney.

    The Republican attacks, on the other hand, are simply lies manufactured with the intention of appealing to feelings of fear, bigotry, and revenge. Restricting military voting? Lie. “Gutting welfare reform?” Lie. Obama destroyed our relationship with the UK by returning a loaned statue? Lie. Obama forces churches to buy birth control? Lie. Plus birther lies, their new incarnation as demands for college transcripts, death panels, etc. are still in heavy use. In addition to being abject bullshit, none of these are remotely touching on any big problem America faces now, unless you count the existence of Barack Obama as a big problem (which of course, they do).

  38. stonetools says:

    @john personna:

    It’s just that when I hear variations of “the Republicans have been lying for years, now it’s our turn” I worry.

    I’m worried about that too, but maybe you have to fire bomb a few Japanese cities to win World War Two. You risk becoming like the enemy, but if the alternative is losing…..

  39. David M says:

    Asked about the Priorities spot on MSNBC Wednesday morning, Robert Gibbs said he doesn’t “know the specifics” while Stephanie Cutter said on CNN: “I don’t know the facts about when Mr. Soptic’s wife got sick or the facts about his health insurance.”

    This is even dumber than the first controversy over the ad. First of all, it’s a Super PAC ad, not the campaign, so the standard response is “I’m really not sure”, and there’s no reason to expect otherwise, even if that means pretending not to know. That’s part of how they keep the “no coordination” illusion intact.

    Secondly, the quoted part above is just politician weasel speak. They didn’t say that they didn’t know anything about Soptic, they said they didn’t know everything about Soptic, a subtle difference.

  40. jukeboxgrad says:

    none of these are remotely touching on any big problem America faces now, unless you count the existence of Barack Obama as a big problem (which of course, they do)

    It’s not his existence that’s the problem. It’s his existence in the White House. The problem is that we are now a country where a black man can be president. That’s a different America than the America certain people remember and long for. Romney is the perfect candidate for this group, because everything about him screams 1950. He’s a throwback, and his appeal is all about rolling back the clock, to 1950, if not 1850.

    It’s OK for folks like Obama to exist as long as they know their place.

  41. mantis says:

    @john personna:

    It’s just that when I hear variations of “the Republicans have been lying for years, now it’s our turn” I worry.

    I advocate a no punches pulled strategy because there is no way Republicans will pull theirs, but who among Democrats is lying, exactly? I know Doug thinks Democrats are lying, but as usual he has no real evidence. What about you?

  42. Dazedandconfused says:

    Modulo said it best.

    Perhaps the best evidence the ad was not all off the mark was the initial reaction from Romney’s campaign. “If they had Mitts healthcare….”

    She got tarred and feathered by the outrage machine as well.

    It’s unfair for Mitt to have to answer for things the bankers of today do. That’s the only “despicable” thing about it. His campaign can not claim any moral high ground on this kind of despicable.

  43. john personna says:

    @mantis:

    The strongest evidence I have that this is overplayed is that it is giving me, an ally, pause.

    A 2006 death is not a fair cop on Bain or Mitt. Sure we can make it into a rational health care argument, but we have to do that work ourselves. The ad is stuck at layoff equals death.

  44. anjin-san says:

    The bottom line on this is very simple. The electoral trend for Romney has been going south, slowly but steadily, ever since he became the presumptive GOP nominee. Nothing he has done so far indicates an ability to step on the gas and get it turned around. Obama is defining him and dominating the message wars.

    Romney is not getting any traction. His message does not resonate, even against a vulnerable incumbent. The support he does get is based on “we hate Obama” not “we think Mitt will be a good President.”

    What’s left? Faux outrage and not a lot else.

  45. Jeremy R says:

    @Moderate Mom: @David M:

    Secondly, the quoted part above is just politician weasel speak. They didn’t say that they didn’t know anything about Soptic, they said they didn’t know everything about Soptic, a subtle difference.

    Right, Cutter and Gibbs are being asked specific questions about detes and details concerning the Priorities USA ad. Both are giving a two part response: one they don’t have the specific dates and details they’d need to argue with the media about it and two they’re not about to waste their time doing research to defend or rebut a third party expenditure ad. What you do see them defending in their appearances is Romney’s responsibilities in the closing of GST Steel since for some reason the media keeps definitively giving that point to the Romney side even though it’s a central dispute of the Presidential campaign.

    I wouldn’t mind the media being obnoxious about this stuff (in this case an ad that’s never even aired) if they faked just as much outrage about GOP independent expenditure ads. This would obviously be a big boon for the Dems as the GOP is depending on an order of magnitude more outside spending, but somehow I doubt we’ll see the day where the Romney camp is harangued for multiple news cycles about one of Rove’s many BS Crossroads ads, or the idiocy Koch’s AFP has been putting out. And no, barely having to answer for first party campaign ads is not the same thing.

  46. john personna says:

    @Dazedandconfused:

    Yes, in one of the strangest moments of the campaign, she made the jump, and made it about health care policy.

    If that gaffe sticks, the net positives may grow.

  47. mantis says:

    @john personna:

    A 2006 death is not a fair cop on Bain or Mitt. Sure we can make it into a rational health care argument, but we have to do that work ourselves. The ad is stuck at layoff equals death.

    Without universal health care coverage, layoffs can and do sometimes equal death. That is a harsh reality, but it is the reality.

  48. Loviatar says:

    Behind The Steely New Democratic Resolve

    “The biggest thing that changed was there was a major shift in the overall environment when it comes to the tax debate,” the Democratic aide said, crediting the Occupy Wall Street movement for helping make the wealth disparity a national issue. “People increasingly think the system is rigged to benefit those at the top.”

  49. Nikki says:

    Hey Doug….care to expound on the truthiness of this ad?

  50. john personna says:

    @mantis:

    Sure, and a cleaner ad would have used a generic lay-off victim to make that case. It would be the system, not a tenuous connection to Mitt.

    Mitt’s spokeswoman gave a total gift on this.

    She genericized the argument.

  51. Herb says:

    @john personna:

    “The strongest evidence I have that this is overplayed is that it is giving me, an ally, pause.”

    Overplayed?

    Before the outrage, this ad was intended to air in 5 states. Cue the outrage….it’s viral.

    Step back a bit and think about what it would be like to live in one of the 45 states where the ad isn’t playing if the outrage machine wasn’t sputtering out its noxious fumes.

  52. David M says:

    @john personna:

    A 2006 death is not a fair cop on Bain or Mitt. Sure we can make it into a rational health care argument, but we have to do that work ourselves. The ad is stuck at layoff equals death.

    I don’t see how it’s out of bounds at all in a system where benefits are tied to employment. Romney and the GOP are working to destroy the safety net that might provide help to people that have been laid off, so the more ads like this that point out there is a human cost to business decisions the better.

  53. stonetools says:

    Mean whil, over at the WaPo, Greg Sargent thinks that the Obama Administration should not distance itself from the ad, but embrace the opportunity to make this a debate about universal health insurance as a way of helping the unemployed.

    LINK

  54. Jeremy R says:

    @john personna:

    A 2006 death is not a fair cop on Bain or Mitt. Sure we can make it into a rational health care argument, but we have to do that work ourselves. The ad is stuck at layoff equals death.

    My take away from the ad, and from Soptic’s own statements to the press is not that he blames Romney for her his wife’s death, but that Bain negotiated a contract, pension, benefits, etc with them and using Bankruptcy to not honor those contracts, sloughing off some of those responsibilities on the U.S. taxpayer, upending all those livelihoods, and all the while cashing out with a tidy profit… none of this caused the slightest ethical dilemma for Bain & Romney as their concern begins with their and their investors’ bottom line. The workers/people involved in these transactions are little more than pawns to move about to maximize profit. While this may be what’s expected in the rarefied private equity world, it’s the last way you’d want a President’s thought process working.

    If you listen to both the opening and closing of the “Understands” ad Soptic spells out the message. He says he doesn’t think Romney appreciates the hardships his business model caused when he upended employees lives, and he doubts he’s particularly concerned about it either.

  55. mantis says:

    @john personna:

    Sure, and a cleaner ad would have used a generic lay-off victim to make that case. It would be the system, not a tenuous connection to Mitt.

    Mitt’s spokeswoman gave a total gift on this.

    She genericized the argument.

    No, she took the bait. As I noted above, the generic argument is embedded in the specific attacks on Romney’s record. That appears the be the overall strategy from Democrats. Make an ad that forces or at least suggests a defense that is in itself a surrender or retreat. The Obama campaign is playing chess while the Romney campaign is yelling “King me! King me!”

  56. al-Ameda says:

    @RWK:

    FAIR AND BALANCED IS NOT WORKING ,I THINK TERES ALOT MORE PEOPLE ON THE RIGHT, I, MEAN PEOPLE THAT REPORT THE NEWS FOR FOX , THE SAME OLD SPIN!

    You really need to fix that CAPS LOCK key

  57. jukeboxgrad says:

    there is a human cost to business decisions

    If the GOP had the courage of its supposed convictions, it would make a statement like this: ‘Freedom isn’t free, and neither is capitalism. Ranae Soptic died for capitalism. Capitalism means that people like her have to keep dying, but it’s worth it. It’s the price of capitalism. Just hope you’re not her.’

    When that GOP debate audience cheered the death of the uninsured patient, this is the philosophy they were expressing. Trouble is, this is not a popular philosophy. This ad puts the GOP in a real bind because it shines a light on this important fact, which the GOP likes to hide: the GOP is all about promoting and implementing that philosophy.

    So this ad is making an important, relevant point, in an effective way. Hence the hysterical reaction.

  58. stonetools says:

    IMO, this ad -which has not even aired yet, IIRC- is already a net positive for the Democrats. I’m wondering if the Democrats shouldn’t get behind a redone version of the ad-cleaned up to clarify the timeline-and launch a debate on our responsibility to build a safety net for the uninsured laid off . We could even fold response of the Romney spokesperson into it.

  59. anjin-san says:

    “People increasingly think the system is rigged to benefit those at the top.”

    There is more to it than that. Pople have always thought, correctly, that the game is rigged. The difference now is the perception that the doormen won’t even let most of the population near the table, and that a lot of the privileged folks at the top don’t bother to hide their disdain for the lower classes.

    “We’re not the team. You’re the team. We’re only the equipment.”

    North Dallas Forty

  60. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Let’s introduce a little reality here with a timeline:

    Bain invested in GST Steel in 1993.

    Romney stopped running Bain in 1999.

    Bain offered Soptic a buyout in 2001, which he declined.

    Soptic, like many other steel companies, went belly-up in 2001, ending Soptic’s job.

    Soptic’s wife had her own job at that point, and was not on GST’s insurance anyway.

    Mrs. Soptic later lost her job and her insurance.

    5 years after GST Steel closed, Mrs. Soptic was diagnosed with cancer and died.

    Yup, Romney’s got blood on his hands.

    But by the new standard, how many jobs did Obama destroy when he closed up a whole bunch of GM and Chrysler dealerships? And how have they managed? Hell, how about when his administration illegally screwed over Delphi’s non-union retirees to protect the unions who supported Obama? Did any of them lose their health coverage and then get sick? It hasn’t been five years, so the comparison doesn’t quite work…

    Whoops, my bad. I apologize. As shown above, the Obama zombies have carefully and deliberately chosen to accept that lies — even grossly offensive and readily disproven ones — are simply par for the course (to use a metaphor their Glorious Leader would surely understand) and totally fair game because ROVE SOUTHERN STRATEGY SQUIRREL!!!!

  61. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Romney stopped running Bain in 1999.

    It makes it a whole lot easier to dismiss your arguments when you post things that are not true.

  62. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    But by the new standard, how many jobs did Obama destroy when he closed up a whole bunch of GM and Chrysler dealerships? And how have they managed? Hell, how about when his administration illegally screwed over Delphi’s non-union retirees to protect the unions who supported Obama? Did any of them lose their health coverage and then get sick? It hasn’t been five years, so the comparison doesn’t quite work…

    LOL!
    By saving GM (which Republicans did not want, preferring bankruptcy instead) Obama saved hundreds of thousands of jobs in the Auto Industry. And now you’re complaining because Obama specifically did not keep open those GM and Chrysler Dealerships that were shut down in that period? You guys are amazing in your hypocrisy.

    Which is it? No on bailout, or yes on bailout?

  63. jukeboxgrad says:

    jenos:

    Romney stopped running Bain in 1999.

    You’re only off by at least three years. On 12/9/02, Bain issued a document indicating that Mitt was one of the two people responsible for Bain’s daily operations. Link.

    Maybe you’d like to retroactively write your comment in a way that is factually accurate.

    Also, there is no disputing the fact that Mitt continued to own Bain and profit from Bain, after 1999. Also, Mitt has taken credit for jobs supposedly created by Bain after 1999. Explain how it makes sense to do that for jobs gained but not jobs lost.

  64. C. Clavin says:

    “…The one thing that becomes immediately apparently while listening to Stopic in this call is that he’s quite obviously reading from a script, and it’s a script that includes political talking points (such as the distorted quote from Romney that he “likes to fire people”) that makes it blindingly obvious that the copy was written by someone in the Obama campaign and, mostly likely approved by Cutter or someone directly under her. This conference call took place on May 14th. The inescapable conclusion is that Stephanie Cutter lied when she said the didn’t know the details of Soptic’s story….”

    Didn’t you mean to write; “…The conclusion I lept to after all of my conjecture was…”
    I mean…you got nothing there.
    Remind me not to hire an attorney from George Mason.

  65. bill says:

    @al-Ameda: well, with dan rather in exile after his last stint at a “coup d’etet” there’s just no one left with enough balls?!

  66. mantis says:

    @Jay Tea #13:

    But by the new standard, how many jobs did Obama destroy when he closed up a whole bunch of GM and Chrysler dealerships?

    Ok, let’s have that argument. GM and Chrysler are still in business. GST Steel is not.

    Obama saves companies and jobs. Romney destroys them. Obama 2012.

  67. al-Ameda says:

    @bill:

    @al-Ameda: well, with dan rather in exile after his last stint at a “coup d’etet” there’s just no one left with enough balls?!

    “coup d’etet”? … Yeah, right … sure, got it
    Not to burst your bubble, but these days, Dan Rather is about as relevant as Joe The Plumber.

  68. wr says:

    @al-Ameda: “Which is it? No on bailout, or yes on bailout? ”

    What’s the confusion? Jenos “knows” that the only people who deserved to be bailed out were those who weren’t bailed out, while those who were bailed out didn’t deserve it.

    And how does he know this?

    Because the decisions of who got bailed out were made by Obama. And the defining “idea” behind everything Jay Tea posts here is that everything Obama does is wrong.

  69. al-Ameda says:

    @wr:

    What’s the confusion? Jenos “knows” that the only people who deserved to be bailed out were those who weren’t bailed out, while those who were bailed out didn’t deserve it.

    These guys (like Jenos) think they win the argument when they point to dealership closures as evidence of Obama’s failure, when they wanted GM and Chrysler to go into bankruptcy which would have not only resulted in those same dealerships closing, but also hundreds of thousands of Auto Industry jobs going away too.

    Amazing chutzpah, and sophistry, all at once.

  70. Davebo says:

    Cut Doug some slack. He’s just earning a living.

    If you want to bitch talk to the folks funding James.

  71. bk says:

    @RWK: I think that someone needs to check your meds.

  72. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @mantis: The choice was between letting GM go through the established legal bankruptcy procedures, or simply making up a process that made sure Obama’s supporters and core constituencies were protected. The unions got full protection, the non-union workers and secured creditors took it in the shorts. Dealerships were cut off on at least a partial partisan basis. We won’t recoup our “investment” in GM unless their stock more than doubles. GM’s sales are only not in the tank because of hefty fleet sales to the federal government.

    And now it turns out that, at the direct command of the Obama administration and again in violation of existing law, Delphi non-union retirees were stiffed so union workers and retirees could get fully compensated.

    Under a normal bankruptcy, GM could have emerged more able to compete — and its crippling union contracts could have been set aside and renegotiated to something remotely sustainable. Instead, We bailed them out, saved Obama’s pets, and are continuing to bail them out — now through other means, like massive fleet sales.

    And investors? The lesson they learned is that if the Obama administration gets involved, any and all their legal rights are meaningless. The secured creditors saw their legal rights set aside, their legal guarantees of priority tossed in the toilet. The lesson there? Don’t invest in shaky companies, just back off. The laws you count on? The basic rules of the game? Subject to rewriting at any time the government wishes.

    Oh, and to GM’s competitors? Tough shit. You competed too well, did too good on your own. You don’t get to win the game.

    A reorganized GM could have been a force to be reckoned with. But we’ll never know, because Obama decided that he’d spend about $100 billion to make sure his supporters were protected above and beyond their legal expectations — at the expense of those who were stupid enough to think that the laws actually meant more than supporting Obama.

    The GM bailout is a grand example of how Obama doesn’t care about the law when he sees something more important — mainly, improving his chances of re-election. And an even grander example of how generous he is when he’s spending other people’s money.

  73. anjin-san says:

    And an even grander example of how generous he is when he’s spending other people’s money.

    I still remember how outraged Republicans were when Bush made vast increases in the cost, size, and power of the federal government.

    They weren’t. Was Bush spending his own money, or did it to, come from “other people”?

    The choice was between letting GM go through the established legal bankruptcy procedures

    Which, during an economic crisis of historic proportions, probably would have led to a cascade failure that would have killed the American auto industry. The fragility of supply chains that was exposed by the tsunami in Japan, especially in an era of “just in time” inventory, was very sobering. “Sorry Ford, half your suppliers just went belly up. Have a nice day.”

  74. @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Under a “normal” bankruptcy GM would have been dissolved and its assets sold.

    There was no private money to fund a split and create “new adventures of old GM”

  75. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Oh, and to GM’s competitors? Tough shit. You competed too well, did too good on your own. You don’t get to win the game.

    As the economy was imploding, the president took decisive action and decided (lawfully) to bail out GM thereby saving hundreds of thousands of jobs in the Auto Industry. And THAT, to you was despicable. You still insist that bankruptcy was the better course, even as the economy was imploding?

    Wow, tough sh** indeed.

  76. As an aside, Fox names #RomneyShambles as one reason for his decline. link Pretty much what I was sayin’

  77. anjin-san says:

    @ john personna

    People are seeing that with Romney, there is no there there. Reasonable people are concluding that they don’t want an administration that consists of “President Guy Who Is Not Obama.”

  78. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @al-Ameda: As the economy was imploding, the president took decisive action and decided (lawfully) to bail out GM thereby saving hundreds of thousands of jobs in the Auto Industry. And THAT, to you was despicable. You still insist that bankruptcy was the better course, even as the economy was imploding?

    I think you mean “the president took decisive action decided (lawfully) to bail out GM’s unions, thereby saving hundreds of thousands of jobs of his key supporters by screwing over a whole host of people who didn’t support him, namely all those secured GM debtors and non-union workers and retirees.”

    Fact: pre-bailout, GM had one of the highest per-hour labor rates, at $70. After the bailout, it’s at $58, still above the industry average.

    Fact: the bailout package resulted in the alleged “secured” creditors getting $0.29 cents on the dollar. The UAW actually made a PROFIT on the bailout.

    Fact: As part of the bailout, Delphi — the auto parts maker — had their entire debt from GM wiped out. They got zero on the dollar. That included the non-union retirees, who had their entire pension plan wiped out.

    Fact: when all the bookkeeping tricks are added up, the GM bailout cost the US taxpayers over $100 billion. How much more? We’re still counting.

    Fact: In order for the federal government to recoup its “investment” in GM, the stock would have to break $55 a share.

    Fact: Today GM’s stock closed at $20.75 a share.

    So… great deal, huh? I suppose if you’re a union member or an Obama supporter in some other way. You certainly got a good return on your investment in the 2008 election.

    Otherwise… well, “elections have consequences.” We just didn’t realize just how expensive those consequences would be. And how much the Obama administration would reward its friends and punish its non-friends.

  79. jukeboxgrad says:

    pre-bailout, GM had one of the highest per-hour labor rates, at $70. After the bailout, it’s at $58, still above the industry average

    Are you sure? Because I see this:

    GM’s U.S. all-in hourly labor cost is now about $56 per hour, compared with $78/hour under Old GM. For comparison, Toyota is about $55/hour.

    You should tell us where you found your “industry average.” Labeling your falsehoods as “fact” doesn’t change the fact that you have a long track record here of making shit up, and only a fool would take your unsupported claims seriously. We’re still waiting for you to explain why you made this false claim: “Romney stopped running Bain in 1999.” See here for proof that this claim is false.

    I realize that you think your old false claims will be forgotten if you upchuck a bunch of new ones, but everyone here has your number, so you’re a fool to even try.

  80. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @jukeboxgrad: Wow, you found a single typo in something I wrote in the middle of the night after working 14 hours. I owe you a full refund.

    As far as the rest… guess that passed your meticulous fact-checking?

  81. jukeboxgrad says:

    you found a single typo

    You said this:

    still above the industry average

    How is that “a single typo?” And what is “the industry average,” and what is your source for this claim? Why are you dodging these questions?

    And you also need to tell us why you still haven’t retracted this phony claim: “Romney stopped running Bain in 1999.”

    As far as the rest… guess that passed your meticulous fact-checking?

    No, it didn’t.

  82. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The GM bailout is a grand example of how Obama doesn’t care about the law when he sees something more important — mainly, improving his chances of re-election. And an even grander example of how generous he is when he’s spending other people’s money.

    What laws were broken in the bailout of GM?

  83. David M says:

    @al-Ameda:

    The law that prevents Democratic Presidents from accomplishing anything legally. It’s pretty simple really, the auto industry bailout did not benefit the GOP politically, ergo it must be illegal.

  84. al-Ameda says:

    @David M:

    @al-Ameda:
    The law that prevents Democratic Presidents from accomplishing anything legally. It’s pretty simple really, the auto industry bailout did not benefit the GOP politically, ergo it must be illegal.

    Thanks David. What was I thinking? I went to public schools, sometimes the obvious eludes me.

  85. Rob says:

    @mantis: Just curious…why does he have to prove his claims but Reid doesn’t have to prove his claims?@john personna: Untrue, but go ahead and spew.

  86. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    So, I take it that you still believe that shedding hundreds of thousands of Auto Industry jobs as the economy was imploding was preferable to a bailout? That not taking sensible actions to save jobs is preferable to taking action to save jobs in one of America’s most important industries?

    Why not just admit it? You wanted bankruptcy in order to break the UAW once and for all, right? You’re willing to have an industry wide loss of union and non-union jobs, in the hundreds of thousands, in order to destroy the union.

  87. @al-Ameda:

    What laws were broken in the bailout of GM?

    Time magazine gave it a mixed call:

    Clear cut, yes? Actually, no. Berman seems to ignore that others before him have looked into the legality of the auto bailout and come up with a more mixed conclusion. The Congressional Oversight Panel did a report more than a year ago about in September 2009 on the auto bailout and looked into the same issue. In that report, the COP said that earlier cases have given the President broad leeway in interpreting laws, especially when it comes to the government’s role in the economy

    They point out, as many of us have, that despite it being a little ugly, it seems to have worked.

  88. @Rob:

    Explain it to me, Rob. In other examples, when major brands have gone kaput, assets have been sold, including brand and trademark. The Foo-Corp which emerges is the company owning the trademark. There is no guarantee that anyone would have money to buy Foo-Corp, design, and production.

    Who had the money?

    How would you feel about GM as a division of Toyota Motor Corporation?

  89. Jaguar(TM) being handed around the world is a ready example of what I’m talking about.

  90. mantis says:

    @Rob:

    Just curious…why does he have to prove his claims but Reid doesn’t have to prove his claims?

    Neither has to do anything. But if Jay wants to assert illegal collaboration and have anyone believe him, he should back it up. If Harry wants people to believe he has a source who knows the details of Romney’s taxes, he should likewise back it up.

    Fair enough?

  91. MBunge says:

    I just realized how brilliant this ad is. Despite what Doug and others are saying, it’s not really saying Mitt killed this woman. It’s that she and her husband are just like so many Americans in the last 5 years who have gotten ground up in the economy and how the folks at the top, like Mitt, just don’t care what happens to them. The ad is not about getting people to hate Mitt. It’s about getting people to think about what would happen to them and their families if some crisis hit. The punch from the ad comes out of the response of people like Doug of “I don’t give a crap about your wife dying and HOW DARE you suggest I should!”

    That’s why Romney’s spokeswoman brought up Romneycare because it is, in fact, the exact right way to respond by taking it as an opportunity to connect with the concerns of voters.

    Mike

  92. jukeboxgrad says:

    rob:

    why does he have to prove his claims but Reid doesn’t have to prove his claims?

    If it existed in a vacuum, Reid’s claim should be ignored if he can’t show proof. But there are other factors that need to be taken into account:

    1) Mitt is the one running for office. Reid isn’t.

    2) Mitt is in possession of the proof. Proving a negative (what you’re asking Reid to do) is inherent difficult or impossible. Proving the positive (what Mitt is expected to do) is easy. And he’s making the opposite claim (at least by implication): that he paid his taxes in a complete, legal, fair way. Therefore he should prove it.

    3) Releasing multiple years of tax returns is normal. Mitt is the one who is deviating from the norm. Therefore the burden is on him to explain why. We all know the answer: he’s hiding something.

    4) Mitt has a record of going to great lengths to avoid taxes. Look up what he did as head of the audit committee at Marriott. This adds credibility to Reid’s claim.