Republicans Watch Their "Harry Reid is a Liar" Strategy Crash and Burn
Republicans Watch Their Harry Reid is a Liar Strategy Crash and Burn
By: Jason Easley
August 5th, 2012
Republicans are learning the hard way that calling Harry Reid a liar is a strategy that is blowing up in their faces.
Our adventure begins with Sen. Lindsey Graham repeating the GOP talking point that Harry Reid is a liar.
Transcript from CNN:
CROWLEY: I need a two-word answer from you, and that is what vice presidential pick would best help Mitt Romney?
GRAHAM: You know, I think Pawlenty and Portman are in the hunt. One last thing. You didn’t ask me about Harry Reid. I’ve been around this town for a while. I actually like Harry. But what he did on the floor of the Senate is so out of bounds. I think he’s lying about his statement of knowing something about Romney. So this is what’s wrong with America–
CROWLEY: That’s pretty stiff. You think–
CROWLEY: — the leader of the Senate is lying?
GRAHAM: Yes, I do. I really do. I think he has created an issue here. I think he’s making things up
Sen. Graham and the rest of the Republican Party didn’t know it, but their strategy was about to backfire. After Graham’s segment, the Obama campaign’s Robert Gibbs hit CNN and made the Republicans pay.
Transcript from CNN:
CROWLEY: Let us start out with Harry Reid. You heard Senator Lindsey Graham saying he thinks Reid is lying, that he is making this up, when he gets on the Senate floor and Senator Reid says, I’ve been told that Mitt Romney has not paid taxes for 10 years.
I spoke to a Democrat yesterday who said — who’s in touch with the Obama re-elect in Chicago, who said, if Chicago wanted Reid to stop, he would stop, but Chicago doesn’t want him to. Are you just as happy to have him out here saying these things?
GIBBS: Look, I think it’s important that we know the financial backgrounds of candidates. You saw Lindsey Graham, I think appropriately, talk about the role that tax loopholes play in our tax code and how much it costs average taxpayers. We’re going to have a pretty big debate about tax reform in the next coming months. And we have to know what’s in people’s tax returns and what they are getting the benefit for.
. . . . .
CROWLEY: But you know where I’m going with this, because you all want to couch it as he’s hiding something really terrible; he probably cheated on his taxes; he didn’t pay taxes; you pay too many taxes. But you have the leader of the Democratic Party in the Senate saying that Mitt Romney didn’t pay any taxes, while you have Mitt Romney saying, “Yes, I did.”
GIBBS: It’s a time-honored tradition that presidential candidates release their tax returns, right? And the standard was set by Mitt Romney’s own father, who said don’t put out one or two years because those could end up being an anomaly, and he put out, I think, somewhere around 12 years. Barack Obama has put out something…
Lindsey Graham spent 60 seconds calling Harry Reid a liar. Robert Gibbs spent 4:20 answering Candy Crowley’s questions about Harry Reid by talking about Mitt Romney’s foreign bank accounts and his tax returns.
Every time that Republicans call Harry Reid a liar, they are keeping Mitt Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns in the news. The size of the transcripts for Graham and Gibbs tell the story.
Republicans are actually making things worse for Mitt Romney by calling Harry Reid a liar. When Republicans talk about Harry Reid, they are also talking about Romney’s tax returns, and Mitt Romney has put his party in a no win position.
There are a dozen different ways that Republicans could address Reid’s accusations, and they have chosen the worst option. The liar, liar pants on fire strategy is only effective if it can be proven that Reid is lying. Since Romney won’t provide the proof, Republicans have given the Democrats the gift of an endless loop of conversation about Romney’s tax returns.
After Lindsey Graham’s attack backfired so badly, you would think maybe the Republican Party would learn that calling Harry Reid a liar is a really, really bad idea.
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