This year was no exception. The American Society of News Editors (ASNE) was privy to speeches from the two political figures the nation is focused on - President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.
There was one exception, however. Yesterday, ahead of GOP primary election returns, Obama took an unusual turn in his speech… Previously rarely mentioning Mitt Romney by name, the President chose to deliver a stinging attack against Republicans and particularly, Mitt Romney.
Obama slammed The Gov for supporting Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget plan (which passed in the House last week) and the measures proposed therein to save Medicare and rein in spending. Obama claimed Romney and Ryan would see that mothers and young children wouldn’t get healthy food, college students would lose financial aid, the Dept. of Justice and FBI would be weakened, in certain parts of the country air traffic controllers would vanish, even weather forecasters would be harmed – that Governors would be tardy issuing hurricane warnings, and so on.
After his doomsday diatribe, Obama intoned, “This is not conjecture. I am not exaggerating. These are facts. And these are just the cuts that would happen the year after next.”
“One of my potential opponents, Governor Romney, has said that he hoped a similar version of this plan from last year would be introduced as a bill on day one of his presidency.”
“He said he’d be very supportive of this new budget and he even called it ‘marvelous’, which is a word you don’t often hear when it comes to describing a budget.” (Laughter.) “It’s a word you don’t often hear generally.” (Laughter.)
Obama further elaborated - calling the Romney/Ryan goal to stop wasteful spending a “Trojan horse – thinly-veiled social Darwinism.”
Obama’s speech reeked with the usual leftist M.O. - class warfare, scaring Americans, exaggerations, mischaracterizations, untruths, and dividing the electorate to score political points.
Obama has now clearly targeted Mitt Romney, the Ryan budget, Republicans, and our opportunity society.
The general election has begun.
Today, it was Governor Mitt Romney’s turn at the ASNE lectern. Fresh after long days of campaigning in Wisconsin with Congressman Ryan (and victories last night in said state, Maryland, and D.C.) he delivered a riveting, powerhouse speech - highlighting Obama’s “Hide and Seek” campaign. It was characterized by a CNN politico as a very sobering, somber speech.
In the course of Governor Romney’s campaign-defining remarks, he underscored Obama’s lack of CANDOR with the American people, especially in light of Obama’s live mic incident with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev:
… “[I]nstead of answering those vital questions, President Obama came here yesterday and railed against arguments no one is making – and criticized policies no one is proposing. It’s one of his favorite strategies – setting up straw men to distract from his record.
And while I understand why the President doesn’t want to run on his record, he can’t run from his record either.
. . .
On what other issues will he state his true position only after the election is over?”
Here’s the transcript of Romney’s ASNE speech (you won’t want to skip over this):
Over the last ten months, I’ve come to know a good deal about some of the journalists who write for your newspapers.
We’ve aired our dirty laundry together – sometimes literally as well as figuratively. We’ve bathed hour upon hour in the fine diesel aroma of a campaign bus. And we’ve shared more birthdays and holidays with each other than with our families.
One of the reporters covering our campaign is Maeve Reston of the Los Angeles Times. For Maeve’s birthday, I got her a cake and sang her a birthday song. For my birthday, she was kind enough to remind me that I’m now old enough to qualify for Medicare.
In just the few years since my last campaign, the changes in your industry are striking. Then, I looked to Drudge or FOX or CNN online to see what stories were developing. Hours after a speech, it was being dissected on the Internet. Now, it’s Twitter, and instantaneous reaction. In 2008, the coverage was about what I said in my speech. These days, it’s about what brand of jeans I am wearing and what I ate for lunch.
Most people in my position are convinced that you are biased against us. We identify with LBJ’s famous quip that if he were to walk on water, your headline would read: “President Can’t Swim.”
Some people thus welcome the tumult in your industry, heralding the new voices and the unfiltered or supposedly unbiased sources. Frankly, in some of the new media, I find myself missing the presence of editors to exercise quality control. I miss the days of two or more sources for a story – when at least one source was actually named.
How your industry will change, I cannot predict. I subscribe to Yogi Berra’s dictum: “Forecasting is very difficult, especially when it involves the future.”
But I do know this: You will continue to find ways to provide the American people with reliable information that is vital to our lives and to our nation. And I am confident that the press will remain free. But further, I salute this organization and your various institutions in your effort to make it not only free, but also responsible, accurate, relevant, and integral to the functioning of our democracy.
Given the number and scale of our nation’s current challenges, the November election will have particular consequence. It will be a defining event. President Obama and I have very different visions for America, both of what it means to be an American today and what it will mean in the future.