2:51 pm Nov. 28, 2011
Mitt Romney's campaign is holding twelve conference calls this afternoon with an array of local and national surrogates in response to a Democratic National Committee ad, released this morning, that splices together clips of Romney appearing to change his position on a variety of issues.
"We're not going to just sit back and not respond," explained Romney's campaign director of communications, Gail Gitcho, on the first call, which featured national campaign co-chair and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.
But as the call illustrated, the response is complicated somewhat by the Romney campaign's release of an ad last week that used a quote from Barack Obama in a misleading way.
The first few questions for Pawlenty and Gitcho were about the Union Leader's endorsement of Newt Gingrich ("Every candidate is going to get their fair share of endorsements," said Pawlenty), whether Romney should be flattered by the attention ("In no way is this primary over yet," said Gitcho), and Romney's plans for Iowa ("Our strategy is to win there," Gitcho said).
But the last question, from a Politico reporter, was about Romney's own television ad last week, which used a quote from Barack Obama without the relevant context that Obama was quoting a John McCain adviser, and whether that "squared" with the Romney campaign claiming the D.N.C.'s ad took their candidate out of context.
Pawlenty chose not to respond.
"Sure, I know Gail wanted to jump in on that and kind of addressed it earlier," Pawlenty said. "But go ahead Gail, you take that one, and I'll add some thoughts as well."
There was a long pause, and then Gitcho apologized for being on mute. She mostly restated her response to a similar question, from the same reporter, last week, saying the campaign "used the quote intentionally."
"I would also add that our campaign was very upfront, we put out a press release, we told reporters, I sent out a mass email explaining that we had used that quote in our ad, on President Obama," she said. "We were very up front about it. And the difference here is that the D.N.C. had just done a clip-job, and Politifact has already come out and said what they have done is extraordinarily misleading."
Romney's campaign has cited this earlier ruling by Politifact, on a similar Rick Perry ad, which used "misleading" footage of Romney appearing to recommend his Massachusetts health care plan as a national solution. The only Politifact ruling on the D.N.C. ad is on the question of whether Romney changed his position on abortion, which the fact-checker says is "True."
The call ended before Pawlenty could add his thoughts.