Romney’s overtly positive mentions were limited to a note, in the 16th paragraph, about an Associated Press poll showing the former Massachusetts governor had erased Obama’s previous 16-percentage-point lead among female voters; and a juxtaposition of two headlines appearing Thursday on the front page of the Des Moines Register.
“Obama sharpens criticism,” read one headline. “Romney expresses optimism,” read the other.
But even this seeming hat-tip to Romney’s surging popularity in some battleground states was likely the result of a tiff between the president and the Register’s editorial board. On Wednesday the paper’s management complained that Obama wanted to keep his lengthy conversation with the paper off the record.
Allen quoted two sections of the transcript that the Register released after Obama’s handlers relented and allowed the paper to publish his comments, which were recorded Tuesday during a phone call. But instead of publishing the most contentious part of Obama’s comments — a section in which he promised that “immigration reform” was something he intended to “get done next year” — Playbook printed only innocuous and self-congratulatory excerpts.
The morning email’s friendliness toward Obama’s re-election hopes was not a one-day occurrence.
On Wednesday, Playbook led with an editorial caveat that “Mitt Romney has a problem. Despite a great debate and what The Wall Street Journal’s Neil King Jr. on Sunday called a polling ‘surge,’ Romney has not put away a single one of the must-have states.”
The author, presumably Allen, wrote that this declaration was ”an antidote to the (perhaps) irrational Republican exuberance that seems to have seized D.C.” He also called the news “a cold shower for the GOP.”
Tuesday’s Playbook led with a quick deconstruction of Romney’s performance in Monday night’s foreign policy debate, with Allen writing that the former governor’s “moderate, me-too rhetoric drew derision from the smart set.”
Among that “smart set,” Playbook identified only the liberal website Talking Points Memo and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.
Following was a seven-paragraph section containing praise for a new Obama television ad — including a complete transcript — and five paragraphs of glowing analysis of the president’s glossy 20-page “New Economic Patriotism” brochure. That printed booklet contains what the Obama camp is calling his plan for a second term.