Mitt Romney’s campaign, echoing a theme trumpeted by President Obama in 2008, on Friday released a new television ad titled “Bringing People Together,” which shows clips of the Republican nominee from the first presidential debate promising to move beyond Washington’s partisan gridlock by working with Democrats.
“We have to work on a collaborative basis, not because we're going to compromise our principle, but because there's common ground,” Romney is shown saying in the ad.
It is a theme Romney has also begun pushing on the campaign trail ever since a focus group showed it to be one of the most popular lines from the Denver debate. On Wednesday, he told a crowd at the Tidewater Community College in Chesapeake, Va., that “the divisiveness we’ve seen in Washington has spread across this nation—it’s got to stop.” Later that day in Leesburg, he spoke of coming together “as Republicans and Democrats … [to] get this country right again.”
In the ad, Romney is shown talking about his record of reaching across the aisle as Massachusetts governor. “We need to have leadership—leadership in Washington that will actually bring people together and get the job done and could not care less if—if it's a Republican or a Democrat,” Romney says in the ad. “I've done it before. I'll do it again.”
The Obama campaign quickly rebutted the idea that Romney worked closely with Democrats while governor. It held a conference call with reporters with Massachusetts state Sen. Karen Spilka, who said that Romney had never been a bipartisan governor and was instead “trying to play the role of somebody like that on TV.”
Spilka described working with a man who was “aloof and distant” and said he had even “commandeered an elevator for private use” so that members of the Legislature couldn’t get near him.
Asked about Romney’s health care law, which did pass the Massachusetts legislature with bipartisan support, Spilka acknowledged that in that instance, Romney had worked with her colleagues. But she called it the “single example I can think of, of Romney sitting down, rolling up his sleeves, and working with the legislature.”
Many voters, particularly independents, have expressed frustration at Washington’s near-constant state of gridlock and at the president’s inability to rein it in, as he promised to do while running in 2008. This time around, Obama has held off from promising a new era of collaboration should he win a second term, with his campaign instead warning in a memo that a President Romney would “be a rubber stamp for the extreme agenda of congressional Republicans.”