By Matthew Hoh |
Third-party presidential candidate Ross Perot once said, "War has rules, mud wrestling has rules—politics has no rules." That was in 1996, but some worry that the players in the 2012 presidential race have already sunk to new lows in terms of dirty campaign tactics. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the political organizations that support him have made habit of taking statements made by President Obama out of context (such as the "you didn't build that" dig) and grossly mischaracterizing the actions taken by his administration. A recent campaign ad accused Obama of gutting welfare reform, prompting fact-checkers to point out that the new White House policy does nothing of the sort, but rather gives state governments a chance to implement their own programs, a move many Republican governors have long begged for.
But that doesn't mean the hands of Obama's supporters are clean. The Priorities USA super PAC released an ad alleging that a factory shutdown implemented by a Bain Capital, which Romney founded and ran, cost a steelworker and his family their health insurance, leading to his wife dying of cancer. The accusation—in essence that Mitt Romney was responsible for her death—has been debunked, as the steelworker's wife was on her own employer's health insurance at the time of the factory shutdown, and wasn't diagnosed with cancer until years later (though she had since lost her job and thus was without insurance).
Campaigns are rarely, if ever, without some mudslinging and exaggeration; but some think Obama-Romney race may outdo them all in deception, especially considering it is only August, and the campaign has three more months to escalate. Has the dishonesty in the 2012 campaign reached unprecedented lows?
Jamie Chandler Political Scientist at Hunter College
Lara Brown Author of 'Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants'
Brad Bannon President of Bannon Communications Research