“Mitt Romney personifies everything Obama hates. Romney is a rich guy. He doesn’t like violence. He doesn’t want anybody taking his stuff. All of this is precisely who Obama is,” said conservative radio talk host Rush Limbaugh earlier this month.
And as the New York Times reveals today, Limbaugh is not alone in claiming President Obama genuinely dislikes the former Massachusetts governor.
First, a little flashback. In August, Glenn Thrush’s Obama’s Last Stand: Playbook 2012 (POLITICO Inside Election 2012) included this nugget: “[Obama] began campaign preparations feeling neutral about Romney, but like the former governor’s GOP opponents in 2008 and 2012, he quickly developed a genuine disdain for the main [sic].”
“That scorn stoked Obama’s competitive fire, got his head in the game, which came as a relief to some Obama aides who had seen his interest flag when he didn’t feel motivated to crush the opposition. Obama, a person close to him told me, didn’t even feel this strongly about conservative, combative House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Hill Republican he disliked the most. At least Cantor stood for something, he’d say,” Thrush adds.
Now, because Limbaugh’s assertion is based on personal observations and Thrush’s insider information is based unnamed sources, one wouldn’t be wrong to take their talk of the president’s disdain with a large grain of salt. But the problem here is that, with the New York Times now chiming in, stories alleging the president’s dislike for the GOP candidate not only persist, they grow.
First, there’s also another excuse for Obama’s dismal debate performance: mainly that because he’s the president, he has many other more important things to worry about.
“Like other presidents, Mr. Obama’s debate preparations were hindered by his day job, his practice sessions often canceled or truncated because of events, advisers said. One session took place just after he addressed a service for the four Americans slain in Libya, leaving him distracted,” the Times report claims.
Then comes the reveal.
“Mr. Obama does not like debates to begin with, aides have long said, viewing them as media-driven gamesmanship. He did not do all that well in 2008 but benefited from Senator John McCain’s grumpy performances. Mr. Obama made clear to advisers that he was not happy about debating Mr. Romney, whom he views with disdain. It was something to endure, rather than an opportunity [emphasis added],” the report adds.
Again, one wouldn’t be wrong to be skeptical of the Times’ hearsay-based claim. But the fact that both the right (i.e. Limbaugh) and the left (i.e. The New York Times) have pushed the “President Obama dislikes Romney” narrative, it certainly makes you wonder.
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter