This is brilliant. While all the pundits can’t get enough of how Romney transformed himself, the Romney campaign is quietly going back on all of his “moderation.” You may recall that Romney claimed that his healthcare plan would cover people with pre-existing conditions. Obama countered that this wasn’t part of his plan—all he was doing was keeping the pre-ACA law that said as long as you keep continuous coverage, insurance companies cannot drop you. Romney claimed this wasn’t the truth and that his plan did cover the 89 million people with pre-existing conditions who couldn’t get coverage. This was part of Romney’s Santa Claus act where anything popular: it’s in there!
And then the debate ended and Romney’s people had to “clarify.” That’s Republican for “correct a lie.” Talking Points Memo reports that Romney’s top adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said:
This is exactly what Obama said. Romney has no plan.
Will this matter? Probably not. Content doesn’t matter. Romney was aggressive and he “moderated” his position (In public anyway!) so he won. But despite all the claims to the contrary, Romney is the same as he ever was. And Obama lost the debate by allowing him to spout his endless parade of lies without counter.
Update (4 October 2012 9:13 am)
Josh Barro—who I’ve had no lack of bad things to say about—has an excellent discussion of the debate. He notes the main problem:
In other words, Romney was shaking the etch-a-sketch. He was vulnerable to the critique that he is changing his views to match audience desires and therefore can’t be trusted. But Obama mostly failed to make that point.
There is one big silver lining for Obama: The debates usually don’t do a lot to change how people vote. When they do matter, as with Gerald Ford in 1976, it’s usually because of a major blunder, not a broadly weak performance. Obama did himself no favors tonight, but his weakness probably had little impact on the number of votes he will receive.
Update (4 October 2012 9:32 am)
Jonathan Chait discusses another of Romney’s lies: he won’t lower taxes on the rich.
I haven’t see an explicit walk back from his campaign, but his plan has not changed. Chait goes on to make a very keen observation of why Obama did so poorly:
Update (4 October 2012 10:54 am)
Think Progress has even more walks back from the Romney campaign:
Grunwald estimates that less than 1 percent of green firms have gone bad in terms of dollar value.
Romney also singled out Tesla Motors, which designs and manufactures electric vehicles, and received a $465 million loan from the Department of Energy. Last night, he quipped, “I had a friend who said you don’t just pick the winners and losers, you pick the losers, all right?” But the company is not a loser. “Founder Elon Musk says it will accelerate its payment of the principal in the spring—and the Department of Energy isn’t complaining it’s not getting its money back.” Romney, unfortunately, has turned to rooting against an American company in his effort to unseat Obama.
Republicans hate America.
Update (4 October 2012 11:03 am)
More from Kevin Drum.