White House senior adviser David Plouffe on Sunday elevated what is crystallizing into a central Obama campaign claim: Mitt Romney is building his campaign on lies.
“Right now their campaign is built on a tripod of lies,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “A welfare attack that is just absolutely untrue. The suggestion we’re raiding Medicare — absolutely untrue. And then this whole ‘we can build it’ nonsense.”
The remarks reflect Team Obama’s exasperation with the attacks from Romney and his surrogates that either misrepresent the facts or omit important context on issues at the heart of the election.
The Romney campaign and Republican National Committee have spent millions of dollars on ads that accuse President Obama of “gutting” the bipartisan 1996 welfare reform law. But as numerous fact checkers and traditional journalists have noted, his waiver policy — which Republican governors also signaled interest in — only applies to states that find alternate ways to strengthen the process of moving more recipients from welfare to work.
A major theme of the Republican convention speeches — including from Romney and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan — is that Obama is robbing seniors by slashing Medicare to fund ‘Obamacare.’ In fact, Obama’s $716 billion in Medicare cuts don’t touch benefits — they slow the growth in reimbursements to providers like hospitals and insurance companies over 10 years. Ryan’s own budget blueprint counts on the same savings.
The Romney campaign stands by the welfare attack, even in the face of significant media pushback. They note that Obama initially opposed the 1996 law. Romney has pledged to restore the Medicare cuts under the Affordable Care Act.
Obama’s off-hand remark about entrepreneurship — in which he argued that Americans collectively built a society that makes success possible — was mocked throughout the Republican convention as an example of Obama talking down to successful Americans.
Obama’s strategy — evident in the president’s stump speeches and his key aides’ media appearances — is to discredit the claims and hope their argument breaks through.
“It’s amazing, by the way. I don’t think we’ve ever seen a presidential campaign — ever — that’s built on a foundation of absolute lies,” Plouffe said. “And I think they’re going to pay a price for that.”
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.