Team Obama says Mitt Romney had a chance to step up to the extremists in his party over a racially-charged plan to tie the president to his controversial ex-pastor Jeremiah Wright. And the presumptive GOP nominee blew it.
“Today, this was a moment that required moral leadership on Mitt Romney’s part, to stand up to the extreme voices in his party, and once again, Mitt Romney didn’t rise to the occasion,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt told msnbc’s Ed Schultz on Thursday.
It's not the first time Romney has shirked from standing up to conservative activists, either, LaBolt said. For example, the Obama spokesman said, Romney refrained earlier this year from clearly condemning conservative shock jock Rush Limbaugh, who caused an uproar when he called Georgetown law student Sandra fluke a “slut” when she spoke in favor of government-subsidized birth control.
The New York Times reported earlier in the day that Joe Ricketts, the conservative founder of TD Ameritrade, had been contemplating a $10 million ad campaign to tie Obama to Wright's "black liberation theology," and cast the president as some sort of failed "metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln."
Still, Romney's repudiation wasn't exactly full-throated. The Republican simultaneously pointed to Obama ads ripping the ex-Massachusetts governor during his time as head of private equity firm Bain Capital, and went as far as accusing the president of “character assassination.”
LaBolt said Romney’s gripes were bogus.“It’s simply his economic record, and it turns out he profited off of bankrupting companies and outsourcing jobs,” he said.
LaBolt wouldn’t say clearly if he thought the proposed Wright-referencing ads were an attempt by the GOP to dog whistle a racist message to extreme supporters, simply saying that “there’s no question that it was directed to the most extreme of the Republican Party."
”Well, it certainly seems like race-baiting to me," Schultz said.