Well, no kidding. After two weeks of blasting Mitt Romney as a corporate raider based on a film bought by a super-PAC supporting Newt Gingrich — which got the same four Pinocchios that Gingrich used to blast Romney over his super-PAC spot — the former Speaker had his campaign send out an e-mail earlier today suggesting that perhaps they should have gotten their facts straight. But even that came with a caveat:
Newt Gingrich released the following statement calling for truth and accuracy from campaigns and so-called “Super-PACs” supporting candidates.
“The American people have a right to know the facts about the records of the men and women who are asking them for their vote.
“Governor Romney is running as someone who knows how to create jobs. In fact, he has claimed to have created 100,000 jobs while at Bain Capital. However, numerous analyses have said that figure is as inaccurate as President Obama’s claim to have “saved or created” millions of jobs.
“Furthermore, Governor Romney’s experience as a portfolio manager did not help him create an environment in Massachusetts that was friendly to job creation. As Governor, Mitt Romney raised $700 million in taxes and fees, despite a campaign pledge not to, and Massachusetts ranked 4th worst in job creation under his leadership.
“These are just some of the facts which President Obama would use to undercut Governor Romney’s claims to be a job creator if he is the Republican nominee. Given these facts, it is entirely appropriate for Republican Primary voters to ask questions to determine whether Governor Romney is presenting himself in an accurate light.
“This call for accuracy, however, is a two way street. Just as candidates must be certain to accurately present their own records, they also have a responsibility to describe the records of their fellow candidates accurately. And they have a responsibility to make sure that their supporters are doing the same.
“This week, fact check organizations like The Washington Post and Politifact have ranked advertisements produced by Super-PACs supporting Governor Romney and myself as containing enormous inaccuracies.
“I am calling for the Winning Our Future Super-PAC supporting me to either edit its “King of Bain” advertisement and movie to remove its inaccuracies, or to pull it off the air and off the internet entirely.
“Furthermore, I am once again calling on Governor Romney to issue a similar call for the Super-PAC supporting him to edit or remove its ads which have been shown to contain gross inaccuracies, something the Governor has thus far refused to do.
“The American people deserve a robust debate and full comparison of the plans and records of the people who are asking for their vote. They also deserve assurances that the information they are hearing is accurate. I am committed to holding my campaign and my supporters to this high standard of accuracy and I hope Governor Romney will do the same.”
The problem here, of course, is that calling for the removal of the ads or film and a subsequent removal of such could constitute illegal coordination between the candidates and the super-PACs. Romney already stated in the last debate that any ads using misleading or inaccurate allegations should not air, but Romney has no (legal) ability to curtail that advertising, and neither does Gingrich. What Romney can do — and apparently has done — is not repeat the same attacks himself. Gingrich, on the other hand, has made the Bain attacks a key part of his campaign over the last couple of weeks, and is only now belatedly discovering that it’s backfiring, thanks in part to its gross inaccuracies, but also in part to its attack on an important process in free-market capitalism.
Michael Ramirez, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist for Investors Business Daily, offers his view on the sudden urge among trailing Republican candidates to attack creative destruction:
Also at Investors, John Merline reminds us what the jobs debate should really be about:
In the 30 months since the recession officially ended, nearly 1 million people have dropped out of the labor force — they aren’t working, and they aren’t looking — according to data from Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the past two months, the labor force shrank by 170,000.
This is virtually unprecedented in past economic recoveries, at least since the BLS has kept detailed records. In the past nine recoveries, the labor force had climbed an average 3.5 million by this point, according to an IBD analysis of the BLS data.
“Given weak job prospects, many would-be workers dropped out of (or never entered) the labor force,” noted Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute in her analysis of the BLS jobs report issued last Friday. “That reduces the measured unemployment rate but does not represent real improvement.”
According to the BLS, the “labor force participation rate” — the ratio of the number of people either working or looking for work compared with the entire working-age population — is now 64%, down from 65.7% when the recession ended in June 2009. That’s the lowest level since women began entering the workforce in far greater numbers several decades ago.
If you adjust for this drop, the unemployment rate would be close to 11%, instead of the official 8.5%.
Perhaps the Republican candidates would like to address this issue? After all, it’s what most Americans have on their minds, not the relative merits of creative destruction and the net loss or gain of a few thousand jobs.
Also, be sure to check out Ramirez’ terrific collection of his works: Everyone Has the Right to My Opinion, which covers the entire breadth of Ramirez’ career, and it gives fascinating look at political history. Read my review here, and watch my interviews with Ramirez here and here. And don’t forget to check out the entire Investors.com site, which has now incorporated all of the former IBD Editorials, while individual investors still exist.
Update: Do you think that Newt will be fundamentally unhappy about this? Frankly, I think not:
Winning Our Future, he says, will spend $3.4 million in South Carolina in coming days, promoting snippets from King of Bain on statewide television, on radio, and on heavy Internet advertising.
And about the report that Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate and funder of the group, is unhappy with King of Bain and the tone of the attacks? “I haven’t heard that,” Tyler says. “We’re not backing off.”
Tyler is also indifferent about growing media scrutiny of the film’s accuracy, and he shrugs off Glenn Kessler’s fact-checking in the Washington Post. “It’s kind of interesting that the press, who failed to do its job on Bain, is mad at me because we did our job on Bain,” he says. “[Reporters] missed the story… Most voters do not know anything about Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital, other than what he tells us.”
Kessler, he adds, in grading the film’s content, makes too much of one woman’s off-hand comment that Romney owns 15 homes. “This is a real person, not an actor, who had lost her home, and she was angry,” Tyler says. “Kessler called that a ‘Pinocchio,’ but that’s just hyperbole, and it’s ridiculous that they would hold her to account on an inaccuracy, like she’s some politician. She is someone who lost her house.”
Read Kessler’s article and see whether Kessler “makes too much” of that remark, as opposed to, say, the fact that Romney didn’t have anything to do with two of the cases presented, had a minimal involvement in one and not much more in the fourth, and that the film takes at least some of the testimony completely out of context. Hint: Kessler doesn’t bother to write more than one sentence about the “15 homes” remark, and didn’t claim to assign a Pinocchio specific to it at any rate.