Campaigns spar over ‘Romnesia’ charge

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Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter on Sunday defended the president’s charge that GOP challenger Mitt Romney is hiding his true positions to win centrist voters.

Speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Cutter said Romney had run his last two campaigns by presenting himself as "severely conservative” to the GOP primary electorate and was now seeking to hide that record.

“And in the last two weeks of this campaign he's suddenly moving to the middle? What about all those policies that he declared?" Cutter asked.


President Obama made the charge most recently at a rally in Virginia on Friday, accusing Romney of flip-flopping or misrepresenting his positions.

"He’s forgetting what his own positions are, and he’s betting that you will, too," Obama said. "We’ve got to name this condition that he’s going through. I think — I think it’s called 'Romnesia.'"

But senior Romney campaign adviser Kevin Madden, appearing with Cutter, dismissed those charges and said the president had shied away from talking about his own failed record.

"Take 'Romnesia,' which is really quite silly for the president of the United States, the leader of the free world to begin uttering," Madden said. "Along with this talk about 'binders,' this talk about "Big Bird," is really indicative of a candidate that doesn't have a vision for the future." 

Madden knocked the Obama campaign for focusing on two offhand Romney remarks from the recent debates. "Trying to make this the central argument here in the last 16 days is really very small for the campaign," he said. 

Madden said voters would notice the contrast between Obama's rhetoric and Romney’s talk about his "plan for the future," focused on the economy, energy, lowering healthcare costs and reducing the deficit.

On Friday at a rally in Florida, with running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Romney said that the president had “no agenda for the future.”

Cutter countered that Romney’s debate statements had a deeper meaning. 

"Big Bird is important because that's the only thing that Mitt Romney could point to as to how he's going to reduce the deficit," she said. "Deficits are a big issue in this campaign."

The Obama campaign has charged Romney with pushing a $5 trillion tax cut for the wealthy they say would blow a hole in the deficit. But Romney says his plan would cut rates across the board and be deficit-neutral by eliminating loopholes and deductions that favor wealthier taxpayers.

Cutter also defended the campaign’s focus on Romney's "binders full of women" comment, saying it was “really symbolic of the governor's policies."

In the second presidential debate, Romney said that he reached out to women's groups to find qualified women for his cabinet because all of the applicants for those positions were men.

"They brought us whole binders full of women," Romney said during last Tuesday's debate.

Cutter said Romney "wouldn't say whether or not he believes in equal pay for women and the Lilly Ledbetter [Fair Pay] Act. He wasn't honest about contraception. ... The binder is not symbolic of that."

"That's what the problem with this election — the governor is traveling around the country either being dishonest about his policies or not giving details about his policies, promising to kick it past the election," Cutter said. 

Madden countered that the president was avoiding talk of his own record and said the administration’s policies had failed to revive the economy. 

"We cannot afford another four years like the last four years," he said.