Cooper's Lede on Obama's Anti-Romney Attacks: 'So Long, Flip-Flopper. Hello, Right-Wing Extremist'

Right from the lede, New York Times reporter Helene Cooper seemed comfortable broadcasting broad anti-Romney insults in her Saturday "Campaign Memo," "In Strategy Shift, Obama Team Attacks Romney From the Left."

So long, flip-flopper. Hello, right-wing extremist.

Mitt Romney may be inclined to start moving to the political center now that he’s practically got the Republican nomination won and done, but the Obama campaign would much rather keep him right where he’s been for the past few months: in the conservative territory he staked out while battling for Republican primary voters.

After months of depicting Mr. Romney as the ultimate squishy, double-talking, no-core soul, Team Obama is shifting gears. Senior administration officials, along with Democratic and campaign officials, all say their strategy now will be to tell the world that Mr. Romney has a core after all -- and it’s deep red.

Mr. Romney’s overheard remarks at a fund-raiser in Florida on Sunday night that, if elected, he planned to slash government programs (though he has not spelled that out for the voters) gave Obama backers the perfect opening, and they jumped on it. “Mitt Romney Tells Rich Voters His Secret Plan to Cut Housing Assistance,” said a headline from ThinkProgress, a blog put out by the left-leaning Center for American Progress. Democratic officials followed that up with a call to reporters on Thursday charging that Mr. Romney’s proposal would “cut critical funds for homeless veterans.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Obama’s advisers saw another chance, and they were all over that, too. Hours after Mr. Romney accepted the endorsement of Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, the Democratic National Committee was out with an ad “Mitt Romney and Tom Corbett: Too Extreme for Women.” The traditional spooky music accompanies video of Mr. Corbett defending his advocacy of a proposal that could make women undergo ultrasounds before receiving abortions, and saying women could “close their eyes” if they didn’t want to see what was on the screen.


For Mr. Obama, the decision to start going after Mr. Romney from the left is as much a logical evolution as is any attempt by Mr. Romney to move to the center, in particular Mr. Romney’s effort now to try to woo Hispanic and female voters who may have been alienated by some of the talk coming out of the Republican primary.

Cooper helped the Obama campaign keep Romney on the right:

That viewpoint made Mr. Romney vulnerable during the Republican primaries and at least partly explains his fierce embrace of conservation positions to offset Republican doubts. But it may make him tougher to beat in November. Mr. Romney himself seemed to acknowledge his need to move to the center during his overheard remarks on Sunday, when he told supporters that “we have to get Hispanic voters to vote for our party,” and warned that big Latino support for Mr. Obama “spells doom for us.” While he did not explicitly endorse a Republican proposal to chart a path to legality for the offspring of illegal residents, he didn’t dismiss the idea either.

Meanwhile, Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters caught Cooper and Times columnist David Brooks lamenting the number of "boring white guys" in the Republican vice presidential picture on Sunday's Meet the Press on NBC:

DAVID GREGORY, HOST: What does Mitt Romney need and what's he likely to do?

DAVID BROOKS, NEW YORK TIMES: Yeah, first I would say the conventional wisdom among Republican donors and Washington officialdom is that Marco Rubio isn't ready to be vice president...


BROOKS: ...emotionally. And so I think Rob Portman, senator from Ohio, he's--Ohio sort of matters, he might help. But basically the, the goal for a challenger in an, in an incumbent election is, are those guys decent enough?


BROOKS: Now a Romney/Portman race would be like a bunch of boring white guys. So it wouldn't be like scintillating, but it would be, oh, they're decent enough.

GREGORY: Helene, if you look--let's put up the screen where we have some of the potential contenders here to be running mates, Paul Ryan; Bob McDonnell, Virginia governor; Marco Rubio, we mentioned; and Senator Portman, we mentioned. Pick somebody else there, Helene, and just a pro and a con on, on Romney picking them.

HELENE COOPER, NEW YORK TIMES: Paul Ryan, not so much. I think he's--the view is that he's not quite ready for prime time yet. And his budget is too polarizing. I don't think--who are the other who were...

GREGORY: Bob McDonnell. Yeah, we talked about Rubio and Portman.

COOPER: Rubio not so much either because what--the biggest thing he could bring to the ticket is he could help Mitt Romney with Hispanics. But wasn't there a poll that came out last week that said he actually hurts in Florida? And then Bob--I'd, I'd say either Portman or McDonnell. McDonnell brings to the table the same sort of things that Portman does. You know, he would be seen as, seen as a little bit boring, but you know, Virginia putting--Virginia's another swing state and...


COOPER: ...there again you'd have these two white guys who look like, eh, not so bad.

GREGORY: Yeah, that's, that's an important point.