Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Now It's Obama's Turn to Distort Romney's Words

On the "Late Show with David Letterman" on September 18, 2012, President Barack Obama criticized former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) -- the GOP presidential candidate -- for Romney's comments earlier this year about the 47% of the population who won't vote for him:
"When I won in 2008, 47% of the American people voted for John McCain, they didn't vote for me. And what I said on election night was, "Even though you didn't vote for me, I hear your voices and I'm going to work as hard as I can to be your president." And one of the things that I've learned as president is you represent the entire country. And when I meet Republicans, as I'm traveling around the country, they are hard-working family people who care deeply about this country. And my expectation is that, if you want to be president, then you've got to work for everybody not just for some."
First -- and this is nit-picking, but -- Obama keeps using the turn of phrase "one of the things I've learned as president" to refer to things you'd think he'd have learned before becoming president. Things that many people who haven't been president (and who never will be president) have already learned. Things like, "make sure that the statements you make are backed up by the facts" and "as president you represent the entire country". I know Obama doesn't mean that he really didn't know these things, but there has to be a better way for him to phrase what he's trying to express.

Second, Obama is distorting Romney's remarks. Romney didn't say that his job as President wouldn't involve representing the 47% who didn't vote for him. He clearly said that his job as a candidate for president was not to try to get the votes of people who (Romney believes) are committed to voting for Obama. Instead, he said it was his job to try to garner the votes of "the five to ten percent in the center that are independents". Maybe Romney is wrong about who won't vote for him and how much he effort he should expend trying to get different people's vote, but he didn't say what Obama describes him as saying. Obama doesn't like it when his words are taken out of context -- e.g., the "you didn't build that" quote -- he shouldn't do the same to his opponents.

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