Just before 11:00 p.m. on Monday, President Barack Obama’s campaign released a list of the “Top Five Falsehoods” that might lead Americans astray and cause them to vote for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
The first item on the list is Obama’s revealing July charge to business owners and entrepreneurs that “you didn’t build that.”
Another three of five “falsehoods” are Romney’s criticisms of Obama’s unpopular health care takeover, Obama’s July 12 welfare-to-work relaxation and Obamacare’s $719 billion cut to Medicare spending.
The fifth item is “birtherism,” according to the campaign email, which alleged that “Romney actually enlisted himself in this birther movement last week.”
Republicans will “be using their primetime coverage this week to launch their same old attacks,” read the e-mail from Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter. “This will be the first time many folks are tuning into the election this year — so we need to double down on our efforts to fight back…. [and] we put together the top five falsehoods to look out for this week.”
“Take a peek, and don’t be shy about passing them on,” she urged Obama campaign supporters.
The list suggests that Romney’s messages are worrying the Obama campaign.
Obama’s July 13 “you didn’t build that” line is a frequent centerpiece in speeches by Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, as well as in the ads they’re running in swing states. But “Romney took the president’s words out of context in an attempt to imply that the president was somehow insulting small business owners — rather than advocating for investments that help them succeed,” read Cutter’s e-mail.
Cutter’s message didn’t actually quote the president’s statement, which has reportedly damaged the president’s support among American entrepreneurs.
In his impromptu statement, Obama told his Roanoke, Virginia audience, “[L]ook, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
The second item on Cutter’s list is Medicare, where Obama’s expected advantage has withered because of his decision to fund Obamacare with $719 billion in unpopular Medicare cuts. Those cuts have allowed Romney and Ryan to woo retirees’ votes with a promise to reverse the deep cuts in Medicare-related spending.
Cutter’s e-mail doesn’t mention the $719 billion cut, but instead charges that Romney is making a “categorically false attack” before changing the subject to Romney’s long-term Medicare reform proposals.
Romney “wants to turn Medicare into a voucher system… [and] would force new retirees to pay more out of pocket for services,” read the email.
The No. 3 item on the warning list is Romney’s argument that the popular 1996 uniform welfare-to-work rules are being gutted by a recent decision to allow states to design their own looser welfare-to-work rules. To push the point in swing states, Romney is also heavily funding televised attack ads on the issue. (Kaus Files: The case for Romney’s welfare attack)
“President Obama is a strong supporter of welfare-to-work programs and recently gave states flexibility to help move more people from assistance to employment as quickly as possible — a policy that many Republican governors, including Romney himself, have requested,” read Cutter’s email.
The No. 4 item is Obamacare.
Many polls show a majority of the public is either hostile or suspicious of the far-reaching effort to give the federal government centralized control over health care practices and spending. But Obamacare really protects the private sector health system while making sure “insurance companies play by the rules,” read the Cutter e-mail.
“Romney has launched a myriad of false statements and distortions about the health care law… [but] Obamacare improves the private health care system, strengthens the insurance plan you currently have, reduces the deficit, and offers the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history,” according to the e-mail.
The fifth “falsehood,” Cutter charges, is “birtherism.”
The email’s focus on Obama’s birthplace is likely intended to sway non-ideological voters away from Romney. Cutter highlighted the issue, and used a recent Romney joke about his familiarity to Michigan voters to argue that Romney was spreading false rumors.
“Conspiracy theorists and members of the Republican Party continue to push this false and dangerous attack… [and] Romney actually enlisted himself in this birther movement last week: ‘No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised,’ he said.”
Since 2008, Obama and his allies have repeatedly highlighted the rumors about his birthplace to stigmatize critics. His online store, for example, sells several items carrying images of his birth certificate. The first three items on display at the online store cite the rumors, including the pitch for the first item, which is a “Made in The USA Mug.”
“There’s really no way to make the conspiracy about President Obama’s birth certificate completely go away, so we might as well laugh at it — and make sure as many people as possible are in on the joke,” reads the pitch.