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Campaign Dishonesty from the Clintons and McCain

By George Will

Some highlights about the Clintons:

The week before South Carolina voted was the week when, at last, even some Democrats noticed. Noticed, that is, the distinctive cloud of coarseness that hovers over the Clintons, seeping acid rain.

That cloud has been a constant accouterment of their careers, and has been influencing the nation’s political weather for 16 years. But by the time Bill Clinton brought the Democratic Party in from the wilderness in 1992, the party had lost five of the previous six, and seven of the previous 10, presidential elections. Democrats were so grateful to him, and so determined not to resume wandering in the wilderness, that they averted their gazes to avoid seeing, and hummed show tunes to avoid hearing, the Clintons’ routine mendacities.

And about St. John of Arizona (McCain)

This was a garden-variety dishonesty, the manufacture of which does not cause a Clinton in midseason form to break a sweat. And it was no worse than — actually, not as gross as — St. John of Arizona’s crooked-talk claim in Florida that Mitt Romney wanted to “surrender and wave a white flag, like Senator Clinton wants to do” in Iraq because Romney “wanted to set a date for withdrawal that would have meant disaster.”

Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, the Clintons should bask in the glow of John McCain’s Clintonian gloss on this fact: Ten months ago Romney said that President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki should discuss, privately, “a series of timetables and milestones.” That unremarkable thought was twisted by McCain, whose distortions are notably clumsy, as when Romney said, accurately, that he alone among the candidates has had extensive experience in private-sector business. That truth was subjected to McCain’s sophistry, and he charged that Romney had said “you haven’t had a real job” if you had a military career. If, this autumn, voters must choose between Clinton and McCain, they will face, at least stylistically, an echo, not a choice.

And of course all of us Romney fans know this to our core, but it’s so great to hear it:

But that dreary scenario need not come to pass. Romney seems to have found his voice as attention turns to the economy, a subject concerning which McCain seems neither conversant nor eager to become so.

Thanks George for painting reality the way it is. And of course the vantage point RealClearPolitics gives us is “priceless”.

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In Tonight’s Debate, Sen. McCain Called On Making The Bush Tax Cuts Permanent, And Said Not Doing So Would Amount To A Tax Increase:

McCain: We Should Make The Bush Tax Cuts Permanent. “I’m disappointed because I think it’s very important that we make the bush tax cuts permanent. I voted to make them permanent twice already…. If we don’t make the tax cuts permanent, they will have what amounts to a tax increase.” (MSNBC, [Unverified Transcript], Republican Presidential Candidate Debate, Boca Raton, FL, 1/24/08)

But Sen. McCain Voted Against The 2001 And 2003 Bush Tax Cuts:

In 2001, McCain Was One Of Only Two Republicans To Vote Against The $1.35 Trillion Tax Cut. (H.R. 1836, CQ Vote #170: Adopted 58-33: R 46-2; D 12-31; I 0-0, 5/26/01, McCain Voted Nay)

In 2003, McCain Was One Of Only Three Republicans To Twice Vote Against The $350 Billion Tax Cut. (H.R. 2, CQ Vote #179: Passed 51-49: R 48-3; D 3-45; I 0-1, 5/15/03, McCain Voted Nay; H.R. 2, CQ Vote #196: Adopted 50-50: R 48-3; D 2-46; I 0-1, 5/23/03, McCain Voted Nay)

In 2004, Sen. McCain “Clearly” Opposed Making The Bush Tax Cuts Permanent:

In 2004, McCain Said He Was Against Making The Bush Tax Cuts “For Higher Income People” Permanent. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: “They want to make the tax cuts for higher-income people permanent, and I don’t want that.” (NPR’s “Morning Edition,” 6/16/04)

· Sen. McCain: “I Would Clearly Support Not Extending Those Tax Cuts.” RUSSERT: “Since the Civil War, every president who has been at war has increased taxes. Should the president consider postponing his tax cut?” MCCAIN: “I would have – I voted against the tax cuts because of the disproportionate amount that went to the wealthiest Americans. I would clearly support not extending those tax cuts in order to help address the deficit. But the middle-income tax credits, the families, the child tax credits, the marriage tax credits, all of those I would keep.” (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 4/11/04; www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLSookkRNIk)

Just Weeks Ago, Sen. McCain Said His Votes Against The Bush Tax Cuts Were Not Mistakes:

Sen. McCain Still Believes He Was Right To Vote Against Numerous Republican Tax Cuts. NBC’s TIM RUSSERT: “Do you believe that voting against the Bush tax cuts was a mistake?” SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: “Of course not.” (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 1/6/08; www.youtube.com/watch?v=5swpJxMNU-A)

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In this campaign, Governor Romney is the only “full-spectrum conservative” that has the experience, vision and values we need when confronting the challenges our nation faces today.  On the economy, his message is “stronger.”  Governor Romney is “at his best in crisis mode.”  In this election, he has “the credentials to run the country.”  In this campaign, newspapers and magazines agree that Governor Romney has the “winning combination.”

The ad will begin airing today in Florida.  Script and ad facts follow:

Script For “Winning Combination” (TV :30):

ANNOUNCER 1:  “The economy is emerging as the overriding issue in the 2008 presidential race and Mitt Romney’s message is stronger.”

ANNOUNCER 2:  “He’s the ‘full-spectrum conservative.'”

ANNOUNCER 1:  “‘A supporter of free-market economics and limited government, moral causes such as the right to life.'”

ANNOUNCER 2:  “‘The credentials to run the country.’  ‘Romney was at his best in crisis mode.'” 

ANNOUNCER 1:  “‘A winning combination, we vote for Mitt Romney.'”

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:  “I’m Mitt Romney and I approved this message.”

AD FACTS: Script For “Winning Combination” (TV :30):

ANNOUNCER 1:  “The economy is emerging as the overriding issue in the 2008 presidential race and Mitt Romney’s message is stronger.”

· CHYRON:  “The economy is emerging as the overriding issue in the 2008 presidential race, and Romney’s message on the subject is stronger…”

· Weekly Standard‘s Fred Barnes: “The Economy Is Emerging As The Overriding Issue In The 2008 Presidential Race, And Romney’s Message On The Subject Is Stronger…” “Mitt Romney had a light home field advantage in the Michigan primary since he grew up in Detroit and his dad was a three-term governor. But that’s not why he won. Romney defeated John McCain because the economy is emerging as the overriding issue in the 2008 presidential race, and Romney’s message on the subject is stronger than McCain’s. And Romney is far more comfortable and persuasive in talking about the economy.” (Fred Barnes, “Romney Gets The Gold,” Weekly Standard, 1/16/08)

ANNOUNCER 2:  “He’s the ‘full-spectrum conservative.'”  ANNOUNCER 1:  “‘A supporter of free-market economics and limited government, moral causes such as the right to life.'”

· CHYRON:  “Romney is a full-spectrum conservative.”

· CHYRON:  “A supporter of free-market economics and limited government, moral causes such as the right to life.”

· National Review: “Romney Is A Full-Spectrum Conservative.” “Unlike some other candidates in the race, Romney is a full-spectrum conservative: a supporter of free-market economics and limited government, moral causes such as the right to life and the preservation of marriage, and a foreign policy based on the national interest.” (Editorial, “Romney for President,” National Review, 12/11/07)

ANNOUNCER 2:  “‘The credentials to run the country.’  ‘Romney was at his best in crisis mode.'” 

· CHYRON:  “Romney … has the credentials to run the country.”

· CHYRON:  “Romney was at his best in crisis mode.” 

· The Oakland Press: Romney “Has The Credentials To Run The Country.” “Meanwhile, Mitt Romney certainly has the credentials to run the country. He is a former Massachusetts governor who turned that state’s economy around and proved to be a more than able leader.” (Editorial, “‘Favorite Son’ Romney Is Best GOP Choice In Primary,” The Oakland Press, 1/11/08)

· “Romney Was At His Best In Crisis Mode.” “Many other observers say Romney was at his best in crisis mode, taking charge of an issue and seeing it through to resolution.” (Brian C. Mooney, et al., “Ambitious Goals,” The Boston Globe, 6/30/07)

ANNOUNCER 1:  “‘A winning combination, we vote for Mitt Romney.'”  GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:  “I’m Mitt Romney and I approved this message.”

· CHYRON:  “A winning combination … we vote for Mitt Romney.” 

· National Review: “We Vote For Mitt Romney.” “More than the other primary candidates, Romney has President Bush’s virtues and avoids his flaws. His moral positions, and his instincts on taxes and foreign policy, are the same. But he is less inclined to federal activism, less tolerant of overspending, better able to defend conservative positions in debate, and more likely to demand performance from his subordinates. A winning combination, by our lights. In this most fluid and unpredictable Republican field, we vote for Mitt Romney.” (Editorial, “Romney for President,” National Review, 12/11/07)\

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In this campaign, Governor Romney is the only “full-spectrum conservative” that has the experience, vision and values we need when confronting the challenges our nation faces today.  On the economy, his message is “stronger.”  Governor Romney is “at his best in crisis mode.”  In this election, he has “the credentials to run the country.”  In this campaign, newspapers and magazines agree that Governor Romney has the “winning combination.”

The ad will begin airing today in Florida.  Script and ad facts follow:

Script For “Winning Combination” (TV :30):

ANNOUNCER 1:  “The economy is emerging as the overriding issue in the 2008 presidential race and Mitt Romney’s message is stronger.”

ANNOUNCER 2:  “He’s the ‘full-spectrum conservative.'”

ANNOUNCER 1:  “‘A supporter of free-market economics and limited government, moral causes such as the right to life.'”

ANNOUNCER 2:  “‘The credentials to run the country.’  ‘Romney was at his best in crisis mode.'” 

ANNOUNCER 1:  “‘A winning combination, we vote for Mitt Romney.'”

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:  “I’m Mitt Romney and I approved this message.”

AD FACTS: Script For “Winning Combination” (TV :30):

ANNOUNCER 1:  “The economy is emerging as the overriding issue in the 2008 presidential race and Mitt Romney’s message is stronger.”

· CHYRON:  “The economy is emerging as the overriding issue in the 2008 presidential race, and Romney’s message on the subject is stronger…”

· Weekly Standard‘s Fred Barnes: “The Economy Is Emerging As The Overriding Issue In The 2008 Presidential Race, And Romney’s Message On The Subject Is Stronger…” “Mitt Romney had a light home field advantage in the Michigan primary since he grew up in Detroit and his dad was a three-term governor. But that’s not why he won. Romney defeated John McCain because the economy is emerging as the overriding issue in the 2008 presidential race, and Romney’s message on the subject is stronger than McCain’s. And Romney is far more comfortable and persuasive in talking about the economy.” (Fred Barnes, “Romney Gets The Gold,” Weekly Standard, 1/16/08)

ANNOUNCER 2:  “He’s the ‘full-spectrum conservative.'”  ANNOUNCER 1:  “‘A supporter of free-market economics and limited government, moral causes such as the right to life.'”

· CHYRON:  “Romney is a full-spectrum conservative.”

· CHYRON:  “A supporter of free-market economics and limited government, moral causes such as the right to life.”

· National Review: “Romney Is A Full-Spectrum Conservative.” “Unlike some other candidates in the race, Romney is a full-spectrum conservative: a supporter of free-market economics and limited government, moral causes such as the right to life and the preservation of marriage, and a foreign policy based on the national interest.” (Editorial, “Romney for President,” National Review, 12/11/07)

ANNOUNCER 2:  “‘The credentials to run the country.’  ‘Romney was at his best in crisis mode.'” 

· CHYRON:  “Romney … has the credentials to run the country.”

· CHYRON:  “Romney was at his best in crisis mode.” 

· The Oakland Press: Romney “Has The Credentials To Run The Country.” “Meanwhile, Mitt Romney certainly has the credentials to run the country. He is a former Massachusetts governor who turned that state’s economy around and proved to be a more than able leader.” (Editorial, “‘Favorite Son’ Romney Is Best GOP Choice In Primary,” The Oakland Press, 1/11/08)

· “Romney Was At His Best In Crisis Mode.” “Many other observers say Romney was at his best in crisis mode, taking charge of an issue and seeing it through to resolution.” (Brian C. Mooney, et al., “Ambitious Goals,” The Boston Globe, 6/30/07)

ANNOUNCER 1:  “‘A winning combination, we vote for Mitt Romney.'”  GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:  “I’m Mitt Romney and I approved this message.”

· CHYRON:  “A winning combination … we vote for Mitt Romney.” 

· National Review: “We Vote For Mitt Romney.” “More than the other primary candidates, Romney has President Bush’s virtues and avoids his flaws. His moral positions, and his instincts on taxes and foreign policy, are the same. But he is less inclined to federal activism, less tolerant of overspending, better able to defend conservative positions in debate, and more likely to demand performance from his subordinates. A winning combination, by our lights. In this most fluid and unpredictable Republican field, we vote for Mitt Romney.” (Editorial, “Romney for President,” National Review, 12/11/07)\

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Today, Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) announced that he was endorsing Governor Mitt Romney and his candidacy for President of the United States.  Senator Cochran joins a Romney for President team that includes Senators Robert Bennett (R-UT), Wayne Allard (R-CO), Jim DeMint (R-SC), Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT).   

http://www.mittromney.com/News/Press-Releases/Endorsement_Cochran

“It is an honor to join Governor Romney and his campaign for our nation’s highest office.  At this moment our nation faces unprecedented challenges, and Governor Romney has the experience, vision and values needed to strengthen our country for future generations,” said Senator Cochran.  “Governor Romney is a man of outstanding judgment and strong character.  I look forward to working with him and helping to implement his conservative vision when he is elected our next President.” 

Welcoming Senator Cochran’s support, Governor Romney said, “Senator Cochran has been a strong voice for the State of Mississippi and our conservative values in the United States Senate.  He has been dedicated to improving the quality of life of all Americans while defending this great country from foreign threats.  I am proud that he has joined our campaign to strengthen our military, our economy and our families.” 

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The ad features Governor Romney addressing the need for conservative change in Washington, especially when our economy is slowing.  With the experience of having worked in business and the vision for strengthening our economy, Governor Romney is ready to take action today.  He has proposed a conservative strategy to cut individual taxes, reduce the tax burden on businesses, make America more globally competitive and help guide homeowners through this housing crisis.  With our economy facing challenge, we need a leader with Governor Romney’s experience and plan to strengthen America.

The ad will begin airing today in Florida.  The script and ad facts follow: 

Script For “Conservative Change” (TV :30):

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: “Today our economy is slowing.  Many feel anxious about the future.

“I know how America works because I’ve spent my life in the real economy.

“I ran a business, turned around the Olympics, and I led a state.

“My plan will make our economy strong.

“We need to invest in people and businesses with tax cuts that will get us moving again.

“Washington is broken, but we can fix it with real conservative change.

“I’m Mitt Romney and I approved this message.”

AD FACTS: Script For “Conservative Change” (TV :30):

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: “Today our economy is slowing.  Many feel anxious about the future.”

· Florida Times-Union: “Jacksonville’s unemployment rate jumped to its highest level in 2 1/2 years last month, a sign that the local economy could be faltering along with the national economy. The jobless rate in the Jacksonville metropolitan area – consisting of Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties – jumped from 4 percent in November to 4.3 percent in December, the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation reported Friday. That’s the highest local unemployment rate since it reached 4.4 percent in June 2005.” (Mark Basch, “First Coast Jobless Rate Shoots Up,” Florida Times-Union [Jacksonville}, 1/19/08)

· Orlando Sentinel: “Figures released Friday show an unfamiliar spike in the area’s joblessness, and economic observers say the cause is a huge slump in the housing market that has dampened spending across other sectors of the economy. Unemployment reached 4.7 percent in December, a jump of 1.6 percentage points from a year earlier, according to preliminary numbers released Friday by Workforce Central Florida.” (Adrian Uribarri, “Lake County Unemployment Rate Shoots Up,” Orlando Sentinel, 1/19/08)

· St. Petersburg Times: “Are we in a recession or just teetering on the edge? Economists are debating the point as conditions deteriorate: Foreclosures, bankruptcy filings and unemployment are rising. Florida reported Friday that the state’s jobless rate rose to 4.7 percent last month from 3.3 percent a year ago. Real estate sales and stock prices are tanking. That’s the big picture and it’s still murky. The little picture is a whole lot clearer. If you’ve lost your job or your income has fallen, the recession has arrived.” (Helen Huntley, “A Recession Touches Many Hands,” St. Petersburg Times, 1/21/08)

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:  “I know how America works because I’ve spent my life in the real economy.  I ran a business, turned around the Olympics, and I led a state.”

· Bloomberg‘s Heidi Pryzbyla:  “Romney’s business record is unmatched by the current crop of leading candidates.” (Heidi Pryzbyla, “Romney Finds Classmate Bush’s Management Lapses Unlikely Hurdle,” Bloomberg, 7/1/07)

· The Boston Globe‘s Robert Gavin And Sacha Pfeiffer:  “In time, Romney would lead the shaky start-up from a staff of seven people managing $37 million to 115 people managing $4 billion in assets. During Romney’s 15-year tenure, Bain Capital would post an astonishing record, on average doubling its return on realized investments every year.” (Robert Gavin and Sacha Pfeiffer, “Reaping Profit In Study, Sweat,” The Boston Globe, 6/26/07)

· Fortune‘s Marcia Vickers: “He is, after all, the most serious major-party presidential candidate to come out of the business world since … well, since his father, George Romney, onetime CEO of American Motors, who ran in 1968.” (Marcia Vickers, “The Republicans’ Mr. Fix-It,” Fortune Magazine, 6/27/07)

· The Associated Press‘ Debbie Hummel:  “Romney took over as head of Salt Lake’s Olympic organizing committee in February 1999 after it was revealed Salt Lake organizers doled out more than $1 million in cash and gifts to members of the International Olympic Committee to win the 2002 bid. Under Romney’s leadership, the Games were lauded as a critical success, a model of post-Sept. 11 security and turned a $100 million profit. Romney, a successful venture capitalist before the Games, wrote a book after titled ‘Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership and the Olympic Games.'”  (Debbie Hummel, “Utah’s ‘Adopted Son’ Returns To State For Presidential Fundraiser,” The Associated Press,  2/21/07)

· U.S. News & World Report‘s Dan Gilgoff:  “Hired in 1999 to turn around the scandal – and debt –plagued Salt Lake City Olympic committee, Romney put it in the black and oversaw a successful Olympics in 2002. He was elected governor of Massachusetts that same year. With a Democratic-controlled state legislature, he managed to balance the budget without raising taxes.” (Dan Gilgoff, “A Massachusetts Conservative,” U.S. News & World Report, 2/12/07)

· The Weekly Standard‘s Terry Eastland:  “As governor, Romney has scored another turnaround, conservative in both ends and means. Told during the campaign that he would inherit a deficit of between $500 million and $1.5 billion, Romney discovered upon taking office a $650 million deficit in fiscal 2003 and an anticipated one of $3 billion in fiscal 2004. Romney balanced the 2003 budget, and he finished 2004 with a $700 million surplus. A reviving economy helped, but Romney didn’t tax or borrow, and he reduced spending through government consolidation and reform.”  (Terry Eastland, “In 2008, Will It Be Mormon In America?” The Weekly Standard, 6/6/05)

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:  “My plan will make our economy strong.  We need to invest in people and businesses with tax cuts that will get us moving again.  Washington is broken, but we can fix it with real conservative change.  I’m Mitt Romney and I approved this message.”

· Governor Romney Will Permanently Reduce The Lowest Income Tax Bracket to 7.5%.  “Permanently cutting taxes for all taxpayers will put more money in workers’ pockets and stimulate consumer confidence and spending.”  (Romney For President, “Strategy For A Stronger America: The Romney Economic Stimulus Plan,” Press Release, 1/19/08)

· By Cutting The Lowest Tax Rate From 10% To 7.5%, We Will Provide Up To A $400 Tax Cut To Each American Taxpayer.  (Romney For President, “Strategy For A Stronger America: The Romney Economic Stimulus Plan,” Press Release, 1/19/08)

· Governor Romney Will Permanently Eliminate Payroll Taxes On Employees Over The Age Of 65.  “It is not fair that seniors that have worked their whole life and earned their full Social Security benefit continue to owe payroll taxes to the federal government.”  (Romney For President, “Strategy For A Stronger America: The Romney Economic Stimulus Plan,” Press Release, 1/19/08)

· Governor Romney Will Make Middle-Class Savings Tax Free.  “Governor Romney’s plan will allow middle class Americans to save tax free by changing the tax rate on interest, capital gains and dividends to absolutely 0%.  By helping more Americans save and invest, we can meet the challenges of an aging population and ensure the financial security of America.”  (Romney For President, “Strategy For A Stronger America: The Romney Economic Stimulus Plan,” Press Release, 1/19/08)

· Governor Romney Will Institute Immediate 100% Expensing Of New Equipment Purchased By A Business For A Two-Year Period Retroactive To January 1, 2008. “This plan would allow both large and small businesses to immediately invest in new equipment and capital improvements, which would immediately stimulate the economy and create new jobs.”  (Romney For President, “Strategy For A Stronger America: The Romney Economic Stimulus Plan,” Press Release, 1/19/08)

· Governor Romney Will Reduce The Corporate Tax Rate To 20% Over Two Years.  “Governor Romney believes we should immediately act to reduce the corporate rate to 25% for 2008 and 20% in 2009.  A permanent U.S. corporate tax rate of 20% will attract capital, stimulate investment, and increase American competitiveness with the rapidly growing economies of the world.”  (Romney For President, “Strategy For A Stronger America: The Romney Economic Stimulus Plan,” Press Release, 1/19/08)

· Governor Romney Will Reform And Expand Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Loan Portfolio Limits.  Governor Romney will lower the amount of upfront down payment a borrower must make, allowing FHA to help nonprime borrowers who may not be able to meet the current requirement.  Governor Romney will also raise the maximum loan amount eligible for FHA insurance, allowing FHA to serve more borrowers in higher-priced areas.  (Romney For President, “Strategy For A Stronger America: The Romney Economic Stimulus Plan,” Press Release, 1/19/08)

· Governor Romney Will Expand NeighborWorks America’s Foreclosure Avoidance Initiative.   Governor Romney proposes expanding NeighborWorks America’s Foreclosure Avoidance Initiative to help American homeowners stay in their homes.  NeighborWorks America assists homeowners by offering foreclosure counseling and identifying refinancing opportunities for U.S. homeowners.  (Romney For President, “Strategy For A Stronger America: The Romney Economic Stimulus Plan,” Press Release, 1/19/08)

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#1: Gov. Romney On His Economic Stimulus Package

#2: Gov. Romney On The Need To Strengthen The Economy

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