Shocker: The “Romney’s a Mormon” media suddenly aghast at mention of Jeremiah Wright; Update: PAC rejects Wright-attack plan

posted at 12:41 pm on May 17, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Here’s a fun exercise for Hot Air readers.  Go to the New York Times website and do a 12-month search for “Romney Mormon,” and see how many hits come back.  I’ll end the suspense — “about 12,000 results,” according to the search I conducted earlier today.  Now, do a search on “Obama Jeremiah” in the same time frame, and you’ll get 4,190 hits, which is more than I expected but only about a third of the Romney-Mormon search results.  Actually, the same search only turns up 4,330 hits since 1851, which means that before mid-2011 the Times only had less than 200 hits for that search item.  The media has been asking questions about Romney’s faith all throughout this cycle’s 365 days, whether it has to do with polygamy (473 hits), racism (501 hits), contraception (265 hits), or contributions (2,040 hits). That’s more than article a day that mentions Romney, Mormon, and polygamy at once.

But when independent groups start asking about Barack Obama’s 20-year association with Jeremiah Wright?  Horror!

A group of high-profile Republican strategists is working with a conservative billionaire on a proposal to mount one of the most provocative campaigns of the “super PAC” era and attack President Obama in ways that Republicans have so far shied away from.

Timed to upend the Democratic National Convention in September, the plan would “do exactly what John McCain would not let us do,” the strategists wrote.

The plan, which is awaiting approval, calls for running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose race-related sermons made him a highly charged figure in the 2008 campaign.

“The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way,” says the proposal, which was overseen by Fred Davis and commissioned by Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade. Mr. Ricketts is increasingly putting his fortune to work in conservative politics.

Chuck Todd led his Daily Rundown today with some straightforward analysis of the risk/reward of such a strategy:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Mitt Romney wasted no time in “repudiating” the idea, but pointed out the personal attacks from the Obama campaign last week:

Unlike the Obama campaign, Gov. Romney is running a campaign based on jobs and the economy, and we encourage everyone else to do the same.  President Obama’s team said they would ‘kill Romney,’ and, just last week, David Axelrod referred to individuals opposing the president as ‘contract killers.’  It’s clear President Obama’s team is running a campaign of character assassination.  We repudiate any efforts on our side to do so.

Guy Benson got an exclusive extended statement from Romney himself:

“I repudiate the effort by that PAC to promote an ad strategy of the nature they’ve described.  I would like to see this campaign focus on the economy, on getting people back to work, on seeing rising incomes and growing prosperity — particularly for those in the middle class of America.  And I think what we’ve seen so far from the Obama campaign is a campaign of character assassination.  I hope that isn’t the course of this campaign. So in regards to that PAC, I repudiate what they’re thinking about … It’s interesting that we’re talking about some Republican PAC that wants to go after the president [on Wright]; I hope people also are looking at what he’s doing, and saying ‘why is he running an attack campaign?  Why isn’t he talking about his record?’”

Team Obama played the victim, blaming Romney for his “tepid” reaction:

“The blueprint for a hate-filled, divisive campaign of character assassination speaks for itself. It also reflects how far the party has drifted in four short years since John McCain rejected these very tactics,” Messina responded. “Once again, Governor Romney has fallen short of the standard that John McCain set, reacting tepidly in a moment that required moral leadership in standing up to the very extreme wing of his own party.”

Jennifer Rubin notes the hypocrisy:

The hypocrisy takes your breath away. After months and months of ”Mitt Romney is a MORMON” coverage and endless insinuation that Romney’s faith will be problem for him (or that he is obliged to defend the precepts of his faith), the mention of possible ads featuring the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has the left-wing media in hysterics.

If you want to argue that religion is off bounds and that what counts is a candidate’s public record, the candidates’ own words and his own explanation for how faith affects his public conduct, then that standard should be equally applied. If, however, you want to hold candidates accountable for the precepts of their place of worship, then that standard should also be applied even-handedly.

Whether exploration of faith for a given candidate is productive for his opponent is an entirely different matter. I’ve argued to my friends on the right that it’s useless to go back to the albeit-troubling record of President Obama in Wright’s church and his association with characters like Bill Ayers; Americans don’t care. Moreover, the far better evidence of Obama’s left-leaning ideology is his own record. Instead of recounting what Wright said about Jews, it’s more relevant to recount what Obama has said to and about (“You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you”) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

I agree with Romney and Rubin that the Wright issue is a loser in this election.  Republicans have this notion that people are unaware of Jeremiah Wright’s ranting, but the truth is that voters largely didn’t care in the economic collapse; they just wanted a change.  The best argument against Obama will be Obama’s record, and every moment spent by the Romney campaign or major outside PACs talking about anything other than the core issues of the 2012 campaign — jobs, economy, deficits, debt, and Iran — play into the distraction strategy that Team Obama is desperate to use.

However, it’s ridiculous to put the onus on Romney for the action of an outside super-PAC that might focus on Wright while the media has been pursuing the “Mormons are strange” trope for the last twelve months, at literally more than a story a day.

Addendum: Nice to see Chuck Todd cover my interview with Governor Romney yesterday:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Update: David Corn thinks Mitt needs to branch out a little further:

Indeed. He should be talking with Katie Pavlich, too.

Update II: Never mind:

On Thursday afternoon, the Ending Spending Action Fund super-PAC, run by billionaire Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts, put out a statement rejecting the plan to spend $10 million to link Obama and Wright in a “big, attention-arresting way.”

The proposal “reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted but only a suggestion for a direction to take. Mr. Ricketts intends to work hard to help elect a President this fall who shares his commitment to economic responsibility, but his efforts are and will continue to be focused entirely on questions of fiscal policy, not attacks that seek to divide us socially or culturally,” according to a statement from the Ending Spending Action Fund.

Will the New York Times follow suit and quit talking about Romney’s Mormonism?  Don’t hold your breath.


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The Wright mess failed to stop Obama when it was fresh.

It will have zero effect 4 years stale.

Hit Obama with his fresh follies.

They are legion.

profitsbeard on May 17, 2012 at 6:31 PM

profitsbeard on May 17, 2012 at 6:31 PM

That’s true but you have to admit the bride part is new and marginally interesting.

Cindy Munford on May 17, 2012 at 7:18 PM

More here, with all the key videos of Mitt Romney on Wright at the post: ‘Jeremiah Wright and Democrat Double Standards’.

Donald Douglas on May 17, 2012 at 8:41 PM

I did bride again, what is wrong with me? Bribe.

Cindy Munford on May 17, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Wait, Romney’s a spineless wimp, just like McCain was?

I’m shocked – shocked, I say.

Midas on May 17, 2012 at 9:34 PM

You would think that this would interest Romney as it shows Obama’s lack of character, possible crony capitalism, and the whole Wright connection provides lots of insight into Obama’s radical views.

Yet apparently Mittens is McCain 2.0 and will “repudiate” any mention of Wright!

Yet it was ok to smear Santorum and Newt but Obama is off limits (not smearing but bringing up the truth)!

Makes me sick!!!

LevinFan on May 17, 2012 at 9:48 PM

You would think that this would interest Romney as it shows Obama’s lack of character, possible crony capitalism, and the whole Wright connection provides lots of insight into Obama’s radical views.

Yet apparently Mittens is McCain 2.0 and will “repudiate” any mention of Wright!

Yet it was ok to smear Santorum and Newt but Obama is off limits (not smearing but bringing up the truth)!

Makes me sick!!!

LevinFan on May 17, 2012 at 9:48 PM

But Romney is a fighter unlike McLame.

/s

Shows just how much GOP f***ed up in shoving a self proclaimed progressive liberal down our throats.
Romney: “Obama is a nice guy”. Romney’s eldest son: “Obama is a nice guy”. Romneys campaign manager: “Romney will NOT repeal ObamaCare”.

They all didn’t mean it.

/s

riddick on May 17, 2012 at 10:22 PM

Are there anymore imaginary girlfriends in this book??????

Baxter Greene on May 17, 2012 at 2:34 PM

His entire life is nothing else than a “script” concocted by the bosses in USSR via Soros. All paid for starting with his communist father and mother. They have been “investing” in him from an early age, main reason he does what they tell him.

Too bad you guys do not read Russian and do not follow Russian blogs.

Manchurian candidate if there was ever was one.

Back in 1980s one of the Russian higher ups said that “We do not need to defeat America through military means, we will do so via inside infiltration”. Turns out the USSR and communism won, handily, and the way they said they will do it.

Add to Hussein our educational system (elementary through university), which is now controlled and run by communists (in hiding) and yes, communism won without firing a shot.

riddick on May 17, 2012 at 10:33 PM

Slightly O/T:

Is Dr. Eric Whitaker – Pastor Wright’s would-be briber – any relation to William Whitaker, president of Thiessen Communications in Schaumburg IL, who is the star of a viral video when he destroys his Lamborghini while trying to make a left turn?

Just wondered…

bofh on May 17, 2012 at 10:51 PM

How about we just mail the results in and give Obama another 4 years. What a joke the Republican Party has become. Four years ago McLame wouldn’t call the President Barack HUSSEIN Obama and now Romney will not call him out on Jeremiah Wright. And people wonder why we lose all of the time.

RZuendt on May 17, 2012 at 11:00 PM

Really, just one question: WHY??

williamg on May 17, 2012 at 11:06 PM

Sean Hannity actually gets it right:

LevinFan on May 17, 2012 at 3:09 PM

I don’t agree, and I don’t listen to him. Hannity uses a lot of emotional talk about the flag, our marines, patriotism and Wright’s connection to Obama to excite the base. But those arguments don’t work with the great majority of Americans, including moderates.

I think more connections made between Wright and Obama (or Obama and Ayers, which to me is scarier) are a loser and I’m glad Ricketts won’t waste his money in that way.

What I despised about McCain was that even when he was directly attacked, he was gentlemanly in his response. Romney impresses me as being tougher so far, answering blow with counterblow, and that’s encouraging. I think sticking with the economy (and Obama’s corruption) will be more effective.

Burke on May 18, 2012 at 12:03 AM

I agree with Romney and Rubin that the Wright issue is a loser in this election.

Romney, anyone associated with his campaign, and the GOP should not touch Wright related issues with a 20 ft pole. They should remain silent on Wright and focus on economic issues.

farsighted on May 17, 2012 at 3:09 PM

We been there and done that. McCain dajavoo

This is why Mitt will lose. He had no problem with personal attacks against his Republican challangers. But no. No personal attacks against Obama. Why on this green earth why? Why not the same attacks he did so well against Republicans. Only possibly answers are.

1) Romney thinks Obama really is the Messiah.

2) Romney is a Democrat and a stupid one at that. Even Democrats have no problem with personal attacks.

3) Romney is insane. Sorry this is most logical of the three.

Seriously is Mitt doing his best to lose this race. Reverend Wright is essential in understanding Obama. Refuse to talk about him and you can not define Obama. Just watch though Mitt will also put every single other person in Obamas life off limits just like McCain.

Mitt will lose as he obviously wants to lose.

Hannity says this better.

Steveangell on May 18, 2012 at 12:32 AM

What I despised about McCain was that even when he was directly attacked, he was gentlemanly in his response. Romney impresses me as being tougher so far, answering blow with counterblow, and that’s encouraging. I think sticking with the economy (and Obama’s corruption) will be more effective.

Burke on May 18, 2012 at 12:03 AM

Just like McCain.

This is a loser. You can not allow your opponent to set the rules for you in Politics.

There is no excuse for Romney repudiating this ad. None what so ever. The most he could have said without groveling was “I would not have run that ad. It is a valid ad but we should talk about the Economy.” There is no valid reason to repudiate it. None. It only serves to suck up to Obama.

Steveangell on May 18, 2012 at 12:37 AM

The Wright mess failed to stop Obama when it was fresh.

It will have zero effect 4 years stale.

Hit Obama with his fresh follies.

They are legion.

profitsbeard on May 17, 2012 at 6:31 PM

Wrong or uninformed.

We now have four years of proof that Obama listened to Wright and makes policy based on what he heard.

Four long years of destroying whitee.

Just look at Zimmerman. No way he did anything but defend himself but he must go to jail to make black people feel good about themselves. Even though he is just as Black as Obama. Both are 1/8 Black. Though Obama is 3/8 dark skinned Arabic and looks black.

Steveangell on May 18, 2012 at 12:44 AM

I agree with Romney and Rubin that the Wright issue is a loser in this election.

*Picard facepalm*

Dunedainn on May 18, 2012 at 1:17 AM

Wrong or uninformed.

We now have four years of proof that Obama listened to Wright and makes policy based on what he heard.

Four long years of destroying whitee.

Just look at Zimmerman. No way he did anything but defend himself but he must go to jail to make black people feel good about themselves. Even though he is just as Black as Obama. Both are 1/8 Black. Though Obama is 3/8 dark skinned Arabic and looks black.

Steveangell on May 18, 2012 at 12:44 AM

Ahem …

Pardon the interruption, I was trying to update my scorecard. hOw do you classify yourself? Are you?

a) a liberal
b) a Democrat
c) a self professed Palinista like ddrintn
d) a Ron Paul supporter who is anti-Romney
e) a self professed conservative who feels Romeny isn’t conservative enough and must therefore lose
f) Or would you prefer to provide your own classification?

Please keep any new classification down to two short sentences. My scorecard does not have a lot of room for those type of “write in” comments.

Thank you

PolAgnostic on May 18, 2012 at 1:23 AM

PolAgnostic on May 18, 2012 at 1:23 AM

Moby.

Dunedainn on May 18, 2012 at 1:25 AM

Blueblood’s aristocracy is wearing gloves to the fight.
Schadenfreude on May 17, 2012 at 12:48 PM

Red meat is still not good for you.

FlaMurph on May 17, 2012 at 12:58 PM

According to well-meaning women of both sexes….

tom on May 18, 2012 at 6:21 AM

Must suck to be a leftist and have to cower from your world view and your very life. If I were so ashamed of my church I might take it upon myself to find another church to go to. Apparently the dumbest President in history isn’t that capable.

Or he is, and he’s just covering up that he’s a Marxist piece of garbage.

MNHawk on May 18, 2012 at 9:12 AM

answering blow with counterblow, and that’s encouraging. I think sticking with the economy (and Obama’s corruption) will be more effective.

Burke on May 18, 2012 at 12:03 AM

What was his response to the Messina garbage? I must of have missed that counter-blow. I remember. I remember well the vicious attacks, full of lies and half-truths and misinformation, he threw against Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. He set out to destroy both men, but Obama is a “nice” but incompetent guy? He sincerely believes that just like Obama/Biden says he sincerely believes that saving rich folk is his only goal?

Isn’t the $150,000 hush money Wright was offered illegal? Kind of like the hush money paid to Edward’s mistress?

Portia46 on May 18, 2012 at 9:16 AM

The Wright mess failed to stop Obama when it was fresh.

There are many levels to focus on in the Wright/Obama relationship. I truly believe in 2008 the wrong ones were emphasized, ie, Black Liberation Theology and anti-Americanism and reverse racism.

That was a mistake. It scared people off who refused to consider such things.

But more importantly for Obama’s governing principles and which has been proven over the last 3 1/2 years is economic illiteracy and class warfare.

I think Rev. Wright’s influence on Obama’s economic thinking and class warfare rhetoric are still, if not more, valid today.

MaggiePoo on May 18, 2012 at 9:31 AM

PolAgnostic on May 18, 2012 at 1:23 AM

Moby.

Dunedainn on May 18, 2012 at 1:25 AM

I am such neophyte as regards these “in” terms, I had to look this up. Yes. I agree. He claims he was a political “professional” and describes the “machine” which can never apply to the Republican Party, which would love to have a machine but they have always had a herd of cats. He also reveals that he was at the receiving end of the Chicago cop’s batons during the 1968 Democrat Convention along with Bobby Seal et al. Those were not Republicans getting the Daily treatment.

I was going to bring that up yesterday but got distracted and the refresh, lose your post feature reared its ugly head in the middle of writing it. I’m glad to learn a new term. MOBY, as in great white whale?

Portia46 on May 18, 2012 at 9:35 AM

Red meat is still not good for you.

FlaMurph on May 17, 2012 at 12:58 PM

“When in the course of human events…” isn’t precisely the beginning of a tofu lunch.

Portia46 on May 18, 2012 at 9:39 AM

They are just trying to head em off at the pass.. Scare anyone who they think wants to get in the game agains Obama..
This admin is desperate, seems to be imploding. That is when they are the most dangerous.

reshas1 on May 18, 2012 at 11:10 AM

I’m glad to learn a new term. MOBY, as in great white whale?

Portia46 on May 18, 2012 at 9:35 AM

More amusing, less intelligent than the literary classic allusion.

Moby, the “singer”, encouraged committed liberals to go on conservative blogs and “mess with the heads” of the conservatives through posing as fellow conservatives who were ticked off with a particular conservative politician over one particular issue/betrayl/youthful indiscretion/not changing theirkitty litter often enough.

It turns out to be spectacularly unsuccessful because of their difficulty in maintaining a consistent conservative persona.

PolAgnostic on May 18, 2012 at 12:06 PM

Austin’s KLBJ radio programming is preparing to resurrect the Fundamentalist Mormon controversy, given the Eldorado incident (settled in favor of Mormon families in the TX Supreme Court), the fundamentalist Mormon prophet in jail for marrying an under-aged girl as another of his plural wives, and why more construction is not being undertaken on their West Texas compound.

yada yada yada reason enough for Mitt to steer clear of religious contentions and whose religion is worse.

maverick muse on May 18, 2012 at 4:15 PM

profitsbeard on May 17, 2012 at 6:31 PM

Yes. Yet no need to deny his past convictions hurt us all:

“God Damn America!” No.

maverick muse on May 18, 2012 at 4:20 PM

I personally agree that Romney should avoid the issue, as well the PACs most closely identified with him. He needs to look presidential. But that doesn’t mean the whole conservative media can’t pick up the slack and pound the Wright issue – they should.

jan3 on May 19, 2012 at 8:50 PM

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