Obama rewrites divisive ‘revenge’ call

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama is trying to undo the damage caused by his jarring Nov. 2 call for supporters to take “revenge” at the ballot box.

That divisive comment threatens to further alienate the middle-class voters — on Election Day and afterwards — who had welcomed Obama’s 2008 promise to promote national unity.

Gov. Mitt Romney has repeatedly cited the Nov. 2 call — “Don’t boo. … Vote! Voting is the best revenge” — to highlight his own end-of-campaign positive pitch. He has used it in several speeches, and even showcased it in a TV ad, titled “Revenge Or Love Of Country.”

Frequently, Obama’s supporters boo when he mentions Romney in his carefully drafted speeches. Normally, Obama then tells his supporters, “Don’t boo — vote.”

On Nov. 2, he added the controversial statement — “voting is the best revenge” — to that phrase.

On Monday, at a speech in Columbus, Ohio, Obama had a new line ready when the friendly crowd began booing at Romney’s name.

Obama repeated the routine “Don’t boo, vote!” phrase, but then added, “You don’t need to boo. Folks can’t hear you boo, but they can hear you vote.”

The new line helps his aides claim that the Nov. 2 “revenge” comment was merely a suggestion to his supporters that they can make their voice heard via the ballot box.

That’s the explanation pushed by Obama’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Psaki, when she was asked Nov. 5 if the president regrets the divisive “revenge” call.

“The President never regrets making the case to the American people that if they don’t like the plans Mitt Romney is offering, if they don’t like the rotten deal he’s offering to the middle class, that they have power to vote and cast their vote — their ballot at the voting booth,” she responded.

“That was exactly what he was conveying with that [revenge] comment, and absolutely no regrets,” she claimed.

But when she was asked why the president has not repeated the line, she evaded the question, and began criticizing Romney for highlighting the president’s “revenge” statement that she had just defended.

“If Mitt Romney wants to close his campaign, which he is doing, attacking the President for saying that the American people have a voice in this process, that’s nothing more than the small-ball and scare tactics that we expect from them,” she claimed.

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