Republicans have begun using the “h” word to describe President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign.
The campaign “is one of the most hateful, divisive operations that we have ever seen in this country,” Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said on Tuesday’s episode of “Hannity” on Fox News.
Mitt Romney had used the same word earlier in the day. “Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago,” he said during an afternoon speech in Ohio.
Priebus’s language complemented a sharp-elbowed statement by other GOP leaders, following a week in which Obama’s deputies and allies suggested that Romney caused a woman’s death by cancer and said that their policies would put Africans Americans “in chains.”
Obama added to the mix Aug. 14, by using three stump speeches to remind his Democratic listeners that Romney once put his family dog on top of his auto when traveling on a family vacation.
Romney has said that the dog, Seamus, could not be carried in the car because it was ill, and so it was sheltered in a crate securely attached atop the car. The vacation took place in 1983, before Romney earned most of his wealth.
Obama is “intellectually exhausted, out of ideas, and out of energy,” Romney declared during an Aug. 14 speech in Chillicothe, Ohio. “His campaign has resorted to diversions and distractions, to demagoguing and defaming others… this year is that the president is taking things to a new low,” he said.
Obama’s sharp attacks are part of his strategy to win a close election despite the terrible economy, Romney said.
“He demonizes some [Americans, and] panders to others [because] his campaign strategy is to smash America apart and then cobble together 51 percent of the pieces.”
Priebus also said that Obama’s negative strategy will weaken his support among swing-voters. “We can talk about the economy, jobs and all the issues … [but] of all the things that I think will undo Barack Obama, it’s that he is not real anymore,” he said.
“If there is something that America’s starving for, it’s real, authentic people who want to serve this country with a pure heart and make a difference,” he added.
Democrats reacted strongly the stepped-up Republican attacks.
Romney “was unhinged in OH tonight launching his most desperate/personal attacks yet,” said a Tuesday evening tweet from Brad Woodhouse, the spokesman at the Democratic National Committee.
“Romney tried change subject by going on hate-filled rant in OH,” Woodhouse added nine minutes later.
The intensified criticism from the GOP is likely intended to further reduce Obama’s ratings among swing-voters, who generally dislike political conflict.
The determined push-back will likely be welcomed by many GOP partisans who had slammed the GOP’s 2008 candidate, Sen. John McCain, for not strongly criticizing Obama’s policies, political views and political allies.
“If they want to punch us, we’re going to punch them back with brass knuckles,” Priebus told Hannity.
In recent weeks, Obama’s negative ratings have risen, even though voters also put Obama well ahead of Romney on positive likability ratings.
“The president continues to embarrass himself and diminish himself with pathetic and outrageous attacks,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams told The Daily Caller.
Those attacks are “destroying his brand of hope and change that he created in 2008 by continually demonstrating to voters that he has failed to change politics in Washington,” he added.
“Keep in mind we’re only in August,” Williams said. “They’re throwing the nastiest and most disgusting politics at Mitt Romney with 84 days to go [and] this is not going to wear well in the Fall,” he said.