A new New York Times/CBS poll indicates that Mitt Romney holds a three point lead over Barack Obama. That’s within the margin of error, but after a week of attempts to portray Romney as the worst bully in the history of bullydom, I’d have to think that the Romney campaign is pretty pleased with how things stand. Of course, it is likely safe to say that the president holds an edge in the Electoral College, but as the poll indicates, the economy remains the defining issue for Americans, which means that Romney has plenty of opportunities to make inroads.
Recognizing this, Team Obama has launched a negative campaign, seeking to distort Romney’s successful business experience. Even Steve Rattner–the Obama administration’s onetime “car czar”–thinks this is way out of bounds. I guess that’s why Rattner is a former Obama associate; the current ones are not allowed to be as honest as he is in appraising Team Obama’s attack ad.
It is worth noting that thus far, Team Obama is the only one engaging in negative ads. And this from the president who admonished us that we need to adopt a “new tone” in our political discussions. Usually, hypocrisy comes better disguised.
UPDATE: An indication from Byron York regarding how Team Romney will respond to the latest Obama attack ad:
. . . First, the campaign has carefully scrutinized Romney’s entire record at Bain and believes it is a strongly positive one overall. But that is the big picture — there are individual instances in which Bain investments failed. Given that, look for the Romney campaign and its surrogates to counterattack by focusing on an instance in which Barack Obama, in essence, took over a company and laid people off in an effort to save the larger enterprise.
That was, of course, the auto bailouts, and while Obama often cites his success in “saving” the car industry, few remember today how many (non-union) workers lost their jobs in the Obama administration’s handling of the matter. During the economic crisis, General Motors and Chrysler shut down more than 700 dealerships, resulting in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs. And the companies did it under pressure from Obama.
“President Obama’s auto task force pressed General Motors and Chrysler to close scores of dealerships without adequately considering the jobs that would be lost or having a firm idea of the cost savings that would be achieved, an audit of the process has concluded,” the New York Times reported in July 2010. “The report…estimated that tens of thousands of jobs were lost as a result.”
The Obama administration argued that the loss of jobs was necessary to save far more (union) jobs at GM and Chrysler. Now, the Obama campaign will likely say the same thing. But in the auto bailouts, whatever else one thinks of them, Barack Obama pushed for downsizing and laying people off in a failing business he had taken over.
Sauce for the goose, etc.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Stephen Bainbridge takes on the president’s smear machine. Read the whole thing, but the following deserves special emphasis:
Meanwhile, the Obama hypocrisy parade continues. (1) The takeover for which the Obama people are bashing Romney occured after Romney had left Bain Capital. But you know who was working at Bain Capital when the contested deal took place? “Jonathan Lavine … a major bundler for Barack Obama, raising between $100-200k for the his reelection.” (Source)
(2) “On the same day his campaign launched an attack on Mitt Romney‘s record in private equity, President Obama is attending a big-dollar fundraiser at the Manhattan home of one of the industry’s top figures.” (Source)