Last week, Romney pollster Neil Newhouse told reporters that the Romney campaign believes its candidates can lie to voters with impunity.
“Fact checkers come to this with their own sets of thoughts and beliefs, and we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers,” he said. He told a reporter later that fact-checking had “jumped the shark.”
One particularly vivid display of the campaign’s strategy of disregarding the truth was in the speech delivered by Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan at the convention. Reporters have identified a half dozen or so false statements in the speech, including:
Mr. Ryan chided President Obama for dismissing the recommendations of a deficit-reduction commission that Mr. Ryan served on and whose plans he opposed, and for seeking Medicare cuts that he too once sought. He seemed to criticize the president for the closing of an auto plant in his hometown, Janesville, Wis., even though General Motors made the decision to shut the plant down in 2008, before Mr. Obama was elected. And he made misleading statements on a number of issues, including the president’s health care law and Mitt Romney’s record in Massachusetts.
During coverage of the RNC yesterday, however, MSNBC White House reporter Chuck Todd said that sources inside the Romney campaign told him that they are only worried about one of the lies — Ryan’s false claim about the closing of GM’s SUV plant in Janesville:
CHUCK TODD: Well, the one critique they’re most sensitive about and they’re fighting and pushing back is the issue of the GM plant in Janesville. and they are arguing and fighting back at every one of saying, wait a minute. this plant was scheduled to close before the president took office.
They say, yeah, but it didn’t close and stop making any stuff until the president took office. He promised that he would somehow restart Janesville. he got what he wanted. but that’s the only one they’re fighting back on.
They’re not pushing back on the corrections, if you will, on [Ryan's lies about] Bowles Simpson. They’re not pushing back on the corrections about the debt ceiling that everybody’s been doing. They’re not pushing back on those.
Here’s why. I talked to a couple of people inside the campaign. They basically said, you know, these fact checks, they’re not having any impact on them. They’re not seeing any impact, They’re not seeing voters accept them and somehow digest them and hold it against them. They think that they can sort of float past this, that the credibility of the media, whether you have this argument that they are able to sort of attack the fact checkers, question a fact checker, get the base of their party, the activist base of their party to bomb, if you will, Twitter bomb reporters, Twitter bomb news media. they think they can float above this. and who knows? They may be right.
I thought that was the most fascinating part. They think that the credibility of the overall media is so low right now and the idea that the media is more partisan in nature or polarized in nature that they think all of the fact checks have limited political impact on them for the fall campaign.