Responding to the Democratic National Committee’s airing of anti-Mitt Romney commercials in six states, the Romney campaign on Monday deployed surrogates from 12 states – including onetime GOP rival Tim Pawlenty -- for conference calls with reporters to attack President Obama and defend Romney.
The DNC's ad, "Mitt vs. Mitt," depicts Romney both supporting and opposing abortion rights, and also shows him saying he's "glad to hear" the president talked up the health care policy he helped enact in Massachusetts when he was governor there.
The DNC released the ad in several areas it is taking especially seriously -- Albuquerque, N.M.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Columbus, Ohio; Pittsburgh; and Milwaukee in addition to Washington, D.C. It represents the most states in which the DNC has released a single ad in this campaign cycle. According to the Washington Post, the ad buy was $14,000.
The Romney campaign released several links to articles that showed the full context of Romney's remarks on the Obama health care plan. The clip in the ad is from an interview on CBS' Early Show in 2009, and Romney went on in his answer to say: "But you don`t set up a government insurance plan because it's going to end up costing billions of dollars in subsidy. It's the wrong way to go."
The campaign did not send out any formal response to the attacks on Romney's apparent flip-flopping on his abortion stance, but it did come up on some of the calls with reporters. Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., said Romney "has stated clearly that his position has evolved" on abortion, and that he is comfortable knowing Romney would be an anti-abortion president.
On the first call of the day, former presidential candidate and current Romney campaign cochair Pawlenty called Obama "the Barney Fife of presidents," a reference to the bumbling character on television’s Andy Griffith Show. Pawlenty also compared him to President Carter.
Reporters repeatedly asked the campaign if it was hypocritical to cry foul over Romney's words being spliced in the ad, when they had similarly taken a clip of Obama campaigning in 2008 out of context in a recent New Hampshire ad. In that commercial, which ran last week only in the Granite State, Obama is depicted as saying, "If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose” –- a quote actually made by his Republican challenger, Sen. John McCain.
Spokeswoman Gail Gitcho responded that the Romney campaign had been transparent in informing the press of the context of this quote, by sending it out in press releases regarding the ad. It had purposely formulated the commercial in a way not to mislead, while the current DNC ad spliced up Romney's words unfairly and gave no context to his remarks, she said.
"I didn't expect the Democrats to like that ad, but if they're going to go into hysterics every time we put up an ad, that’s just something they're going to have to deal with," Gitcho said.