Thursday, January 05, 2012

Gingrich VS. Romney (and Romney’s Backers) – Attack Ads So Bad, the SF Chronicle Agrees with Newt! Twilight Zone 2012’s Media and Politics - MA Rant

The Speaker and the Governor - image

As anyone who has not been living under a rock, no matter where they are in this nation, and who has an interest in politics, or for that matter, access to cable shows such as Fox News, or CNN, or MSNBC, understands that the 2012 GOP field has a field of outstanding candidates, all of whom bring something different to the table, all of whom have experience of some sort, and all of whom are being vetted by the American people – through the media and those who look for information on the web. In this process, candidates have supporters, and they have to run advertising, and make comments to differentiate themselves from one another, although they are, for the most part, conservatives, on the same team and running for the same political party nomination, they also are obligated by circumstance and human nature, to win, and do win, one must say a thing or two about one or the other of the candidate records – and every one of them has a record, a record in business, or as a Governor, or as a Congressman or woman.

In the not so distant past, we all would watch the local news, or the CBS, ABC, or NBC evening news and not know that there was a Republican in the United States, in fact, in 2008, so little was said about John McCain, (positive or negative) and so much about then candidate Barack Obama, that some independents did not know much about Senator McCain, there were ads of course, but little news. Suddenly, that has changed – to the point where CBS News on the night of the Iowa Caucus, broke into prime time programming to give an update – and the anchor, was not looking the least apathetic, he, in fact appeared excited to be giving the news about a neck and neck contest taking place in Iowa.

In this GOP nomination process there have been several front runners, the last front runner with a sizeable margin was Newt Gingrich. Mitt Romney is the party choice, the Republican Party Choice. When one speaks about “party” one does not refer to those individuals going to the voting booth, rather those who hold the positions in the party that organize and run the day to day operation of elections. There are also PAC’s these PAC’s may be issues based (focused not on one candidate but on an issue such as anti-war, pro-life, etc.) and they may be candidate based (focused solely on getting one person elected). In Iowa, Mitt Romney’s PAC, (it is only his PAC because his friends run it, but he doesn’t own it – he only can ask them not to do something or to do something, and they are under no obligation to listen.) ran ads so often and so off base about Newt Gingrich that even the San Francisco Chronicle, and this bears repeating, the San Francisco Chronicle, feels that Newt Gingrich has been done a great disservice and should be a bit mad at old Mitt. Being from Massachusetts and not a part of the Republican Party that is considered “elite”, not a politician, not a party “hack”, not a member of a City or Town Committee, just a voter, one has a slightly different view of Mr. Romney than say, some of the others that support him – simply because, some might have lived here and been “fee’d to penury (poverty)” by Romney during his term as governor.

Fees are taxes without being called taxes.

With that in mind, the best example of a changing media-policies relationship appears in the following from the San Francisco Chronicle titled: “Romney Backers Stretch Truth in Advertising Assault on Gingrich”
The body:

Jan. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said he faced one "30-second distortion" after another as he saw his lead in Iowa polls diminish to a fourth- place finish in the state's caucuses. He has reason to complain.
A political action committee called Restore Our Future, which supports Republican front-runner Mitt Romney, ran more than $1.2 million of negative ads in Iowa, mostly aimed at Gingrich. The PAC made at least one false statement and several misleading ones over the course of five of its last commercials.
In one ad, a narrator says Gingrich was paid $30,000 an hour by the government-backed home mortgage company Freddie Mac. That's not true; Gingrich's consulting company, the Gingrich Group, received a monthly retainer of $25,000 to $30,000 during one contract he had with Freddie Mac, according to three people familiar with aspects of the business agreement.
Restore Our Future defends the ad in postings on a website at pointing to a later comment Gingrich made that he'd usually spend an hour with Freddie Mac officials a month. The claim that it's an hourly rate for Gingrich "is a ridiculous exaggeration," according to the Annenberg Public Policy Center's nonpartisan,
Gingrich grew so frustrated by the ads that on Jan. 3, the day of the Iowa caucuses, he said "yes" when asked on CBS if he was calling Romney a liar.

Outside Groups

The repeated airing of debunked claims highlights the new role that outside groups with little accountability are playing in the 2012 election after court and regulatory rulings cleared a path for them. All told, so-called super PACs backing specific candidates had spent $5.3 million on ads through Jan. 3, compared with $5.8 million spent by the candidates, according to New York-based Kantar Media's CMAG, which tracks advertising.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, finished first in Iowa, beating former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum by eight votes. Each had roughly 25 percent of the vote. U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas came in third, with 21 percent.
By law, Romney can't coordinate with Restore Our Future. Yet with the independent group financed with unlimited checks from Romney backers aiming at Gingrich, Romney was able to stay above the fray, running $852,370 of positive ads and no negative spots in Iowa through Jan. 3, according to the CMAG data.

Amnesty Claims

Three Restore Our Future ads claim Gingrich supports "amnesty" for illegal immigrants. Gingrich supports a path to legality for certain people with "deep ties" to the community. In a Dec. 15 debate, he gave as an example people who have been in the U.S. for 25 years. The claim in the ad registered a "half true" rating from the Tampa Bay Tribune's nonpartisan PolitiFact site.
One spot includes the claim that Gingrich co-sponsored a bill with Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, that gave $60 million a year to a United Nations program supporting China's "brutal one-child policy." The funding for the worldwide family-planning services program was part of a larger bill that never passed, and the claim is "the most notably misleading" in the ad, according to
The same ad says Gingrich favored "taxpayer funding of some abortions." Gingrich supported the Hyde Amendment, which restricted federal funding of abortions while leaving open exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. The anti- abortion National Right to Life Committee highlights the vote for the amendment as a positive for Gingrich.

'Misleading' Message

"While its wording is accurate, its message is misleading," PolitiFact said, rating the claim "half true."
Restore Our Future spokeswoman Brittany Gross declined to comment. Romney's campaign spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, referred to Romney's comments on Fox News on Jan. 3.
"I understand Newt must be very angry and I don't exactly understand why, but, look, I wish him well," Romney said on Fox, when asked about Gingrich's attack on his veracity. "It's a long road ahead. He's a good guy."
Gingrich, the former U.S. House speaker from Georgia, told supporters he's going to start drawing more contrasts with Romney.
"We're not going to go out and run nasty ads," Gingrich said in Iowa. "I do reserve the right to tell the truth. And if the truth seems negative, that may be more a comment on his record than it is on politics."

Paul Attack Ads

Gingrich also faced attacks from others in Iowa. Paul's campaign posted a video almost two minutes long on its website that strings together clips of Gingrich speaking and news reporters and commentators speaking about him. At the end, a voice summarizes Gingrich's record as "serial hypocrisy."
As the Paul ad shows, there's plenty of fodder to attack Gingrich without stretching the truth, said Rogan Kersh, a public policy professor at New York University.
"The irony is that Romney's PAC hardly had to make up stories to damage Gingrich among Iowa's conservative voters," Kersh said. "His own record as speaker is chock-full of the usual array of compromises, side-deals and dealings with Democrats, which -- repeated often enough -- would surely have done the trick."

From this point of view, Romney may feel totally justified in a PAC which supports him, running back to back :30 second misleading ads, in a 24/7 cycle on every station in Iowa that are false and misleading about another candidate (Speaker Gingrich), because he feels that he should use anything he can to get elected. However, there are limits. When such negatives ads are run back to back, ad nasuem, they do damage the other candidate (as witnessed in Iowa where Newt Gingrich went from first to 4th in the finish within a matter of weeks – but remember 4th was the Iowa slot that John McCain had, and he went on to win the nomination, while negative ads were being run against one Mike Huckabee, by groups supporting one Mitt Romney – in 2008).

It is a pattern of acceptance of deceit that is perhaps Mr. Romney’s nature, and perhaps most telling about the type of “leader” he might be.

It matters not that this blog openly supports Mr. Gingrich at this time, and feels that he is the best candidate for this time in this nation’s history – what matters is that Mr. Gingrich is being vindicated in, of all places, the press. This is something one can be fairly certain would not have happened four years ago.

Understanding it is one article in one paper, but there are more, more that are lately pointing out the goods and ills of all candidates, and that’s refreshing to those who may have grown tired of a one-party, one person drumbeat that the media presented over the past 20 years.

In this opinion, we need a leader who will be able to take punches (fairly delivered i.e. based on facts, not exaggerations, and on policy decisions as well, not on one’s personal affairs, religion, or race). We need a candidate and a leader who will defend the constitution, and also be willing and proven to work across the aisle making compromises with the other “team” without compromising their principles – it’s what makes our government work, something that we have not seen in the past two administrations. The only administration that seemed to get things done was the Clinton Administration, and as a reminder, they worked with Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House. Did the Speakers ability to anger both Democrats (who brought usual ethics charges, most of them, in a word bogus) and Republicans (who were glad to be rid of someone who would have the nerve to cross the aisle and go against the party in the interest of the American people) make him an imperfect candidate – hardly. This makes the Speaker a perfect candidate, and any candidate that can prove that they did not change their personal core convictions to get a Government moving, well, then, that’s a good candidate.

Finally, being from Massachusetts, one is used to being in the last place on earth any Presidential candidate, regardless of party, will make an appearance (unless at a fundraiser, where, most of the rank and file are unable to attend due to the price tag). It would be lovely if one or two or all of them dropped in on the Bays State before Super Tuesday. Understanding New Hampshire with its smaller population and fewer delegates overall, is in the spotlight and close enough to do a drive by, but…it would still be nice to see them in Massachusetts, asking us to vote for them, and holding one or two events (one in the East and one in the West (one can assure the world that there are two very different parts of Massachusetts). Since voting for the first time, as this blogger had turned 18, and was a staunch Democrat, and voting for Jimmy Carter to boot, one has not seen a Presidential Candidate of either party do a run through Massachusetts as part of an active campaign. To date, only one candidate in memory has vested time in Massachusetts and that was Hillary Clinton – to her credit. This is an invitation, one that will fall on deaf ears, more than likely, to all candidates to come and stump in Massachusetts – perhaps one will spend a day or two here, making a case for their candidacy, and tell us why he or she is the best person to become the next Leader of the Free World. Without running a slew of negative ads, or having one’s PAC who back them, doing the same.

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