New York Times Buries Two Controversial Obama Statements, Plays Up Romney Campaign Woes on Front Page

Friday's New York Times front page featured Jeff Zeleny (pictured) and Jim Rutenberg's "Political Memo" on the "daunting" struggles of the Mitt Romney campaign: "Daunting Path Greets Romney Before Debates – He's Hoping to Change Campaign Dynamic."

Again the Times focused on the political damage fostered by Mitt Romney's (accurate) statement at a fundraiser that 47 percent of Americans do not pay income taxes. Meanwhile, the Times buried two controversial Obama comments. One is an old audio tape of Obama saying "I actually believe in redistribution," a remark reporter Richard Oppel Jr. actually defended in Thursday's edition.

The other is from a rare tough interview by the Spanish-language station Univision Thursday in which Obama claimed "I think that I've learned some lessons over the last four years and the most important lesson I've learned is that you can't change Washington from the inside."

That remark both contradicts the promises Obama made during his 2008 campaign and called into question the point of electing him in the first place. (The phrase made it into a Michael Shear blog post Friday morning, but not the print edition.)

There are seven days until early voting begins in Iowa, less than two weeks until the first debate and 46 days left in the race for Mitt Romney to change the dynamic of a campaign that by many indicators is tilting against him.

That, advisers to President Obama acknowledge, is plenty of time.

But the burden rests to a remarkable degree directly on Mr. Romney and his ability to restore confidence to his campaign, become a more nimble candidate and clearly explain to voters why he would be the better choice to repair the economy and lead the nation in addressing its challenges at home and abroad.

The state-by-state landscape facing Mr. Romney is more daunting than he expected by this stage in the contest. He anticipated, aides said, to be in a position of strength in at least some of the states that turned Democratic in 2008 for the first time in a generation, but few of them show signs of breaking decisively his way, and Mr. Obama still has more and clearer paths to 270 electoral votes.

And as Mr. Romney works to move beyond one of the most turbulent periods of his candidacy, in a week dominated by the disclosure of remarks in which he said that 47 percent of Americans do not pay taxes and see themselves as victims, he is starting to confront criticism from some in his party who worry that his troubles will affect their own races.

“The presidential thing is bound to have an impact on every election,” Tommy G. Thompson, the former Wisconsin governor who is the Republican candidate for the Senate there, said in an interview on Wednesday with a Madison television station. “If your standard-bearer for the presidency is not doing well, it’s going to reflect on the down ballot.”

Not until the jump page did readers see this counterpoint:

While Mr. Romney remains deadlocked with Mr. Obama in most national polls, anxiety among Republicans about the presidential race, the seeming lurching nature of Mr. Romney’s campaign and his own miscues have spread far beyond Washington. Republican strategists across the country said in interviews that their candidates were being asked about Mr. Romney’s remarks, creating an unwelcome potential trap for those in tough races.


The president and his aides are aware that everything could change in an instant, particularly with three presidential debates looming, and said Democrats could not be complacent.

But for the first time in many months, Mr. Obama’s job approval rating has reached 50 percent in several recent polls. He has taken the edge away from Mr. Romney on questions of who voters believe will be a better steward of the economy, which coincides with the release of modestly positive economic signals.

The Times summed up Obama's damaging statement in a single word:

Yet the president must still contend with his campaign promises made four years ago, including his pledge to change Washington. When asked about that Thursday during the Univision forum, he said change must come from the “outside.”

Speaking to supporters in Sarasota, Fla., Mr. Romney seized on the remark as an admission of failure, saying: “The president today threw in the white flag of surrender. He went from the president of change to the president who can’t get change.”