Mitt Romney's campaign has a new ad in Ohio featuring a 2008 clip of Hillary Clinton saying "shame on you, Barack Obama," pitting the inter-party rivals against each other in a strategy that's seems like it'll be pretty easily diffused.
The ad, Politico's Alexander Burns reports, critiques President Obama for airing attack ads against Romney that "just aren't true," and notes that Clinton made the same complaint during her 2008 primary fight. "He also attacked Hillary Clinton with vicious lies," the narrator says. Footage then shows Clinton saying "He continues to spend millions of dollars perpetuating falsehoods," and later, "So shame on you, Barack Obama." (In a bit of irony, the lie Clinton accused Obama of was about her support of an individual mandate to purchase health insurance. The Obama campaign had sent out a campaign mailer that suggested her proposed health care reform "forced people to buy insurance even when they cannot afford it." There's obviously a reason Romney didn't air the full clip.) The ad strategy is clear: sow discord within a party by replaying the battles they fought during primary season. Obviously, it's one Obama's team has used on Romney after his protracted fight with Republicans. Last month, the campaign aired an ad featuring several of Newt Gingrich's attacks on Romney.
Romney's ad also probably capitalizes on Clinton's sympathetic stature with voters in her non-partisan role as Secretary of State. A May Gallup poll gave her 62 percent approval among independents and 40 percent among Republicans. Casting her as a victim in ads airing in a big swing state seems designed to capitalize on this.
The reason, of course, that these ads aren't incredibly effective for long, is that if you use a politician's allies against him, those allies can quickly defuse your point. Gingrich went on Piers Morgan and said, "We found out when we got in a fight with Mitt Romney over this that it didn't work," he said. "People understand free enterprise. People realize that sometimes you succeed, sometimes you fail, but they refuse to take a one-sided view of it." Translation: the attack you're seeing me make, thanks to Obama's ad, wasn't a good one.
Clinton's obviously not going to respond to every instance where the Romney campaign brings up her 2008 race, but if a critique she once made ever showed signs of taking hold, she'd have a pretty obvious weapon: her own words. She is pretty popular after all.
Here's the raw Clinton footage. It's actually pretty compelling TV. She's really rough on Obama.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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