“Don’t boo, vote! Vote! Voting’s the best revenge!” he said.
Unsurprisingly, the Romney campaign was quick to seize on the president’s “ugly and small-minded moment,” as the Washington Examiner’s Byron York puts is, to draw a contrast between the two campaigns.
“Yesterday, the president said something you may have heard by now that I think surprised a lot of people. Speaking to an audience, he said, ‘You know, voting is the best revenge,’ ’’ Romney said. “He told his supporters, ‘Vote for revenge.’ Vote for revenge? Let me tell you what I’d like to tell you: Vote for love of country.”
As these are the final moments of both campaigns, now is the time to make a rousing and inspiring closing argument. What was the president thinking?
Surely, the Obama camp has an explanation for “revenge.” They do. Well, they say they do.
Apparently, the president’s off-the-cuff remarks were made while he was discussing Romney’s “scare tactics” in Ohio.
The GOP candidate is “frightening workers in Ohio into thinking, falsely, that they’re not going to have a job,” Obama campaign official Jen Psaki said, according to a White House pool report.
“And the message [Obama] was sending is if you don’t like the policies, if you don’t like the plan that Gov. Romney is putting forward, if you think that’s a bad deal for the middle class, then you can go to the voting booth and cast your ballot. It’s nothing more complicated than that,” she added.
Mr. York is quick to note the glaring problem in this supposed explanation:
The problem is, the president was actually not speaking in the context of Romney’s highly-controversial ads about bailed-out Chrysler adding production of Jeeps in China. In fact, Obama had not said a word about the Jeep controversy when he said “revenge.” His speech had touched on Hurricane Sandy, on the progress the American economy has made in the last few years, on his national security accomplishments, on the choice Americans will make on November 6, on Bill Clinton’s record — on a lot of things, but not on Jeep.
Indeed, it took the president six paragraphs after talking about revenge to mention Jeep. Simply put, at no point before telling his supporters to get “revenge” did President Obama say anything about “scare tactics,” Jeep, or false ads.
Final Thought: Considering how close we are to the election, and knowing what we know about the context of the president’s speech, what an odd thing to blurt out. What was he thinking?
The Romney campaign’s message today is revenge, ours is the President’s plan for the middle class.I’ll take that contrast any day.
— Jim Messina (@Messina2012) November 3, 2012
Apparently, words no longer have any meaning and campaign managers expect us to forget things that were said less than 24 hours ago.
Here’s the president’s speech leading up to his revenge remark:
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Ohio! (Applause.) Thank you! How’s it going, Wildcats? (Applause.) There definitely are some Wildcats in here. (Applause.) You’re fired up! Are you fired up? (Applause.) Are you fired up? (Applause.) Fired up? (Applause.)
Can everybody please give Alicia a big round of applause for the great introduction? (Applause.)
It is great to see all of you! (Applause.)
For the past few days –
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you!
THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. I do. (Applause.) I do.
For the past few days, all of us have been focused on one of the worst storms in our lifetime. And everybody in Ohio obviously has been watching the images on TV. We are so saddened by those who lost their lives. We can only imagine what their families are going through, and our thoughts and prayers are with them.
I had a call this morning with my emergency teams, and one of the things that I’ve emphasized to everybody on the East Coast — people all around the country want to send a message, and that is we will stand with folks in New York and New Jersey and Connecticut every step of the way until they have fully recovered. (Applause.) That’s a commitment we’re making to them.
When I make those commitments, I don’t make those commitments just as President. I make those commitments on behalf of the American people. (Applause.) And what’s interesting is, during these kinds of crises, these disasters, as tough as it is and as sad as it is, we’re also inspired because we see heroes running into buildings and wading through water to save their fellow citizens. We see neighbors helping neighbors cope with tragedy. We see leaders of different parties working to fix what’s broken, not to score political points. We see a spirit that says no matter how bad a storm is, no matter how tough times are, we’re going to make it because we’re all in this together. (Applause.) We rise or fall as one nation and as one people. (Applause.)
And that spirit, Ohio, has guided this country along its improbable journey for more than two centuries. And it’s also guided us and carried us through the trials and tribulations of the last four years.
In 2008, we were in the middle of two wars and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Today, our businesses have created nearly 5.5 million new jobs — and this morning, we learned that companies hired more workers in October than at any time in the last eight months. (Applause.)
The American auto industry is back on top. (Applause.) Home values, housing starts are on the rise. We’re less dependent on foreign oil than any time in the last 20 years. Because of the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over. The war in Afghanistan is ending. Al Qaeda has been decimated. Osama bin Laden is dead. (Applause.)
So we’re on the move, Ohio. (Applause.) We’ve made real progress these past four years. But the reason all of you are here today, the reason I’m here today, is because we know we’ve got more work to do. As long as there’s a single American who wants a job but can’t find one, our work is not done. As long as there are families working harder but falling behind, as long as there’s a child anywhere in this country who is languishing in poverty, barred from opportunity, our fight goes on. We are not finished yet. We’ve got more work to do. (Applause.)
We’re here because we understand this nation cannot succeed without a growing, thriving middle class – (applause) — without sturdy ladders for folks who are willing hard to get into the middle class. (Applause.) Our fight goes on because America has always done best when everybody is getting a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody plays by the same rules. That’s what we believe. That’s what you believe. That’s why you elected me in 2008. And that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: Now, in four days, Springfield, four days — (applause) — just four — four days for four years. (Applause.) In four days, you’ve got a choice to make — it’s not just a choice between two parties or two candidates. It’s a choice between two different visions for America. (Applause.) It’s a choice between going back to the top-down policies that got us into this mess — or the middle-out, bottom-up strategies that have gotten us out of this mess and are going to keep us going. (Applause.)
As Americans, we believe in free enterprise, and we believe in the strivers and the dreamers and the risk-takers who are the driving force behind our economy. That’s how we create growth and prosperity, the greatest the world has ever known. But we also believe that our economy does better, our businesses do better, our entrepreneurs do better when everybody has got a chance to succeed; when all our children are getting a decent education; when all our workers are learning new skills; when we support research in medical breakthroughs and new technologies.
We believe America is stronger when everybody can count on affordable health insurance and Medicare and Social Security — (applause) — when our kids are protected from toxic dumping and pollution; when our consumers aren’t being taken advantage of by credit card companies or mortgage lenders. (Applause.)
We believe in a democracy where everybody’s voice is heard, where you just can’t buy an election. (Applause.) And we believe in politicians that understand that there’s some things the American people can do better for themselves — for example, that politicians in Washington, mostly men, shouldn’t be controlling health care choices that women can make perfectly well for themselves. (Applause.)
For eight years, we had a President who shared these beliefs — a guy named Bill Clinton. (Applause.) And so our beliefs were put to the test. His economic plan asked the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more so we could continue to invest in our people, continue to invest in ideas and innovation, invest in our infrastructure. And at the time the Republican Congress and a Senate candidate by the name of Mitt Romney –
AUDIENCE: Booo –
THE PRESIDENT: No, no, no — don’t boo, vote. (Applause.) Vote! Voting is the best revenge.
But at the time Mitt Romney said Bill Clinton’s plan would hurt the economy and kill jobs, it turns out his math back then was just as bad as it is today. (Applause.) Because by the end of President Clinton’s second term, America had created 23 million new jobs, and incomes were up and poverty was down, and our deficit became the biggest surplus in history. So our ideas were tried and tested, and they worked. Their ideas were also tried, and they didn’t work out so well.
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Front page photo source courtesy the AP.