Peanut Gallery: Right-Wing Media's Debate Advice For Mitt Romney


Right-wing media are offering GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney advice for the upcoming presidential debate. They suggest Romney should push economic myths to attack Obama's record, "smack the president," and get under Obama's skin.

Conservative Media: Romney Should Mislead About Economy To Attack Obama...

NYT's David Brooks Advised Romney To Say "The Economy In 2012 Is Worse Than The Economy In 2011." In a October 1 New York Times op-ed, columnist David Brooks advised Romney to say that the economy is worse now than it was in 2011:

The Obama administration, which is either hostile to or aloof from business, has made a thousand tax, regulatory and spending decisions that are biased away from growth and biased toward other priorities. American competitiveness has fallen in each of the past four years, according to the World Economic Forum. Medical device makers, for example, are being chased overseas. The economy in 2012 is worse than the economy in 2011. That's inexcusable. [The New York Times, 10/1/12]

  • In Fact, Economic Data Indicates That The Economy Is Better Off Now Than It Was One Year Ago. Since 2011, GDP has grown to $15.586 trillion and the private sector has added over 3 million jobs. Moreover, the stock market has increased in value by nearly 24 percent, and in the second quarter of 2012, home values hit their highest value since 2008. [Media Matters, 10/2/12] Romney Should Convey The Message That The U.S. Needs To "Cut Taxes To Stimulate Growth." An October 1 post advised Romney to simplify his message and suggested that he convey the "conservative message" of "cut[ting] taxes to stimulate growth":

The conservative message is pretty simple: cut taxes to stimulate growth, get rid of business-stifling government regulations so the free market can prevail, and keep the country safe. No need to reinvent the wheel. The founders did it all already. We need you, Mitt, to be the leader who will put the message into practice.

You seem like a really nice guy, Mitt. You have a great running mate. And you have a conservative base that is really fired up and ready to go. So, when you meet Barack in Colorado on Wednesday night for the first debate, clearly spell out your plans so that everyone believes what you say. [, 10/1/12]

  • TPC: Tax Cuts For High Earners "Will Do Relatively Little To Boost The Economy In The Short Run." In an August 2010 post, Tax Policy Center economist Howard Gleckman pointed out that tax cuts for the wealthy generally do not go back into the economy. Gleckman noted: "We know that higher income households are more likely to bank the cash than spend it. As a result, tax cuts for these high-earners will do relatively little to boost the economy in the short run." [Tax Policy Center, 8/31/10]

 For more on right-wing media inflating the effects of tax cuts, click here and here.

Laura Ingraham: Romney Needs To Remind People That "We Have Really 11.7 Percent Unemployment." During the September 30 edition of Fox News Sunday, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham suggested that in the debate, Romney should claim that the U.S. "really" has "11.7 percent unemployment." [Fox Broadcasting, Fox News Sunday, 9/30/12]

  • BLS: "The Unemployment Rate Edged Down to 8.1 Percent" In August.  In a September 7 press release, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that "the unemployment rate edged down to 8.1 percent" in August. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, 9/7/12]

... Should Verbally "Smack" Obama ...

Bill O'Reilly: Romney Has To "Smack The President." On Fox & Friends, Fox host Bill O'Reilly encouraged Romney to "put aside his politician persona" and "smack the President" in the debates

O'REILLY: Look, Mitt Romney, it's all on him. All on him. All President Obama has to do is basically just be himself, and not say anything, just repeat the same old thing. But Mitt Romney has to convince the American people that going forward he's a better alternative than the president. That's not going to be easy. So he's going to have to paint the President as an incompetent. Now this Libya thing can be part of that, but certainly the economy way more important to the folks than Libya. But he can weave it. The second thing is that Romney has got to kinda put aside his politician persona. I mean he looks perfect, right? He looks like a president should look. But that's not working against him, because people don't know who he is. He's got to find a way to say look, this is who I am, this is why I'm better, in very simple terms. It's a daunting task for the governor.

GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): Yeah, it is, because if he comes across as sort of being in attack mode, which a lot of republicans want him to be, then the press might say, "Oh wow, he really went too far."

O'REILLY: He doesn't get -- he can't care about the press.


O'REILLY: He can't care about them one bit. He's got to smack the president like Laura Ingraham would smack him.  [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/2/12]

Sean Hannity: "I'd Like To See Romney" "Hit" Obama "With A Left Hook, Verbally." On his Fox News show, Sean Hannity encouraged Romney to "hit" Obama with a "verbal punch":

HANNITY: Romney, this is a big opportunity for him. I don't think this president has ever taken a verbal punch. If I'm right, and he's arrogant, somebody hits him with a left hook, verbally, and then continues to jab him on his failed policies, he is going to react and it will be visible. I'd like to see Romney do that


HANNITY: I'll be honest. If he doesn't hit as hard as he hit Newt in the Florida debates, I'll be angry. [Fox News, Hannity, 10/1/12]

Chris Stirewalt: "Romney's Got To Attack, Attack, Attack." During a discussion of the debates on Fox News' America Live, Fox News digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt said Romney must "attack, attack, attack" Obama:

STIREWALT: The way that he has to do when he gets on stage in Denver is this. Attack President Obama, don't worry when the punditry says it was too mean or it was shallow or it was short on specifics or whatever. They always say that. It doesn't matter, they always say that. He's got to launch an attack on President Obama, he's got to weather the storm when the press says, "Oh you're doing it wrong, oh we don't like what you're doing." That's what they always say, especially about Republicans. So Romney's got to attack, attack, attack, and then use that time in front of those viewers to lay out three points, three simple points about what he wants to do, hit hard, keep it simple, and get out of town. [Fox News, America Live, 9/27/12]

... And Should Get Under Obama's Skin

O'Reilly: Romney Should "Fluster" Obama. In a discussion with Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume, O'Reilly said that Romney "hasn't been forceful enough," and encouraged Romney to "fluster" Obama during the debates.  He also encouraged Romney to convince Americans he can "fix" the economy by saying, "Hey, I'm your handy man here. I can fix it." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 10/1/12]

Charles Krauthammer: Romney Should Get Under Obama's Skin. On Fox News' Special Report, contributor Charles Krauthammer called Obama "thin-skinned" and said it would help "if Romney can manage to get under his skin in some way."

KRAUTHAMMER: Obama is really good. And he did come out of nowhere, he beat the Clinton machine. He did it in part in his debates, in his oratory. So I think he's going to be strong. I think his one weak point is that he is thin-skinned. You occasionally will see it in the press conference. And if Romney can manage to get under his skin in some way -- I think that actually happened in '08, one or two of the Clinton debates -- I think it could, sort of, puncture that aura that Obama had. I don't think it will be any way be decisive. I think the one thing that is going to help Romney is that simply being on the stage is always true of the challenger, just being on the same stage as the president instantly raises your stature. And I think if he can hold his own and perhaps prevail to even a minor extent he will reverse momentum which has been rather negative in the last couple of weeks. [Fox News, Special Report, 10/1/12]

Conservative Media Also Advise Romney To, Among Other Things, Show "He's Not A Monster"

Dick Morris: "Romney Must Show That He's Not A Monster." On Fox News' Hannity, Fox contributor Dick Morris encouraged Romney to "show that he's not a monster that eats little children," but that he is "a man of integrity":

MORRIS: But Romney -- there are a whole lot of people right now who want to vote for Romney. Want to vote against Obama. But they don't want to vote for Romney, because of all the negatives Obama's piled on them, which has not been answered. And they've sort of sitting on one side of the synapse, waiting for permission to jump over and vote for Romney. In the debate, Romney must show that he's not a monster that eats little children, and that he's a man of integrity and defending himself on this stuff, can absolutely encourage them to jump over and make it possible for them to do that.


MORRIS: And the challenger has an innate advantage in these debates, because he can show that he's not a monster, that he is informed, that he's OK, that he's reasonable and they can answer the charges. And I think that Obama has left himself very vulnerable to a comeback by Romney in this debate. And I expect to see it. [Fox News, Hannity, 10/01/12]

Donald Trump: If Obama Mentions Romney's Tax Returns, Romney "Should Immediately Ask For Obama's College Records & Applications." In an October 2 tweet, frequent Fox guest Donald Trump wrote, "If Obama mentions Mitt's tax returns in tomorrow's debate then Mitt should immediately ask for Obama's college records & applications."

[Twitter, 10/2/12]

Trump: Romney Should Ask Obama Why His "Autobiography States 'Born In Kenya, Raised In Indonesia.' " In a October 1 tweet, Trump advised Romney to ask Obama why his "autobiography states 'born in Kenya, raised in Indonesia. ' "

[Twitter, 10/1/12]

  • Obama Literary Agent: Misidentification Of Obama's Birthplace "A Fact Checking Error." In a May 18 ABC article, Obama's literary agent, Miriam Goderich explained that the promotional booklet that said Obama was born in Kenya was "nothing more than a fact checking error by me -- an agency assistant at the time." [ABC News, 5/18/12]

For more on Trump's and right-wing media's questioning of Obama's birth place, click here.

Michelle Malkin: Romney Should "Take On The Rigged Game" Of Presidential Debates. On Fox News' Hannity, Fox contributor Michelle Malkin expressed her hope that Romney would challenge the "rigged game" of the debates, and represent "mainstream females":

HANNITY (host): I want to get your advice. When you debate, you fight, you fight back with facts. What would you like to see out of Governor Romney one week from now when he's debating?

MICHELLE MALKIN: Well, I'd like him to take on the rigged game that this entire presidential debate system has become. And, of course, they accepted the current lot of lapdog liberals who will be controlling that venue. But he can certainly take notes from his previous debating opponents in the GOP primary, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. And I certainly don't agree with either of them on anything, on everything, but the way that they challenged the basic false premises of these very far from neutral observers I think was very admirable, and something that appeals not just to the base of the Republican Party and conservatives, but I think especially to those independents. I mean, the first debate will be here in Colorado. This is a huge battleground state. And particularly when it comes to these women issues, the Democrat Party has vastly overreached in this whole idea that women simply think with their chromosomes and their internal organs. And the way that the Democrats have presented themselves as champions of women, when of course they have this destructive economic record, and the caricature of the Sandra Fluke types, and these radical code pinkos, prancing around in costumes dressed up as reproductive organs. This is not what mainstream females are about. We need to have the Romney campaign representing that. [Fox News, Hannity, 9/26/12]

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