Romney attack ad misleadingly quotes Obama

Obama campaign blasts Republican candidate's ad as a "deceitful and dishonest attack".


Mitt Romney's first paid campaign ad of the 2012 presidential campaign has been criticised as "deceitful and dishonest". The minute-long ad uses footage from a 2008 campaign stop in New Hampshire, where Obama said: "If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose." However, the full quote was actually: "Senator McCain's campaign actually said, and I quote, 'If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose.'" Obama was quoting (and criticising) his GOP rival, but it has been edited to sound as if he was saying it himself.

The ad has already drawn widespread criticism in the US, with Romney accused of misleading the public. Obama's campaign instantly said it was "deceitful". However, in an email to Politico, the Romney camp defended the move. Adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said:

We used that quote intentionally to show that President Obama is doing exactly what he criticized McCain of doing four years ago. Obama doesn't want to talk about the economy because of his failed record.

It's not clear yet who comes off worse from this -- Romney risks being painted as a liar (particularly after some incidences of dishonesty in his campaign), but regardless of this, the economy is a difficult subject for Obama. Gloves off.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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John McDonnell's Mao zinger spectacularly backfires

The shadow chancellor quoted from Mao's Little Red Book in his response to George Osborne's autumn statement.

John McDonnell's response to George Osborne's autumn spending review has quoted from a surprising source: Mao's Little Red Book.

The Little Red Book is the name commonly given to Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung, a book that collected together the - you guessed it - quotations of the former Chairman of the Communist Party of China. It was widely distributed after the cultural revolution during the personality cult of Mao, alongside Lenin's The Three Sources and Three Components of Marxism and Engel's Socialism: Utopian and Scientific. 

In response, George Osborne opened the copy of the book and said "it's his [McDonnell's] personal signed copy".

Aside from chapters on labour, women and the army, the book also collects quotations on topics like "Imperialism and All Reactionaries Are Paper Tigers". Mao's legacy as a political theorist is somewhat contested given the approximately 18 to 45 million people who died during China's "Great Leap Forward", a process of rapid industrialisation instigated by the Communist Party in the late 1950s. The death toll from Mao's cultural cleansing program is hotly debated, but sources generally agree over half a million people died as a direct result.

There has been some suggestion that in terms of "not offering obvious spin opportunities to your opponents", the decision to quote Mao may not have been McDonnell's finest.

I'm a mole, innit.