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Digital age catches out presidential campaign porkies

Nov 3rd, 2012 | By | Category: Editor's Picks, Featured Article, News


IN THE digital age no election campaign words go undocumented, even those thought to be private.

The slightest change of campaign message is noticed then commentary spreads like a virus.

While Republican Party media strategists appear to have missed the message, the Democrats may be ensuring there are no embarrassing moments – by saying nothing.

In the 2012 election Obama hasn’t come under much fire for misleading voters on the Democrat’s stances.

That could be because he hasn’t said very much at all, according to Politico news website guest columnist Republican Senator Orrin Hatch.

“Obama hasn’t said what he would do.  In all my time in the United States Senate, I’ve never seen a president like the one we have now, who flatly refuses to say what he would do in a second term,” he says.

Recent statements by Mitt Romney have earned the Republican Party a world full of viral criticism.

“Mitt Romney said Tuesday he has no plans to push for legislation limiting abortion, a softer stance from a candidate who has said he would “get rid of” funding for Planned Parenthood and appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade,” the Huffington Post reports.

“Romney told The Des Moines Register on Tuesday that restricting abortion access is not part of his agenda.

“In the same Des Moines Register interview, Romney also glossed over his position on contraception coverage.”

MSNBC say that Romney is softening his stance on abortion in order to court women voters.

A new Ronmey campaign advert features a woman saying Romney doesn’t oppose contraception or abortion.

Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel, an American women-centric magazine-style website, accuses Mitt Romney of “straight up lying about his position on abortion.”

They say “Mitt Romney is not a moderate — he’s just playing on television.”

The San Francisco Chronicle asks Sandra Fluke, a feminist activist, about the Republican new posturing on women’s issues.

As governor of Massachusetts, Fluke says, Romney “vetoed a bill guaranteeing emergency contraception to survivors of sexual assault,” while pledging to “appoint justices who would overturn Roe vs. Wade.”

“During the 112th Congress, the House Republican majority passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which originally distinguished rape from “forcible rape” as though there is any other type”,  reports Politico.

The Republican party are campaigning strongly to get women to vote for them in this election.

Unfortunately Republican vice-presidential candidate Ryan Paul’s voting record has also been circulating on the internet.

According to The Huffington Post, Ryan has cast 60 votes on abortion and reproductive rights issues during his time in the House of Representatives.

“All of them were deemed “anti-choice” by women’s health advocates.”

Gaffes quickly make it to YouTube

But the most damaging issue the The Republican Party has to deal with is repeated gaffes by candidates, which no sooner said than are piling up hits on YouTube.

John Koster, a Republican House of Representatives candidate, was caught on tape on Sunday saying “’the rape thing’ does not excuse abortions.”

Nicholas Kristoff has been tracking the Republican miss-steps at The New York Times.

“Todd Akin claimed during his Senate campaign in Missouri that in the case of “legitimate rape,” women “shut that whole thing down” to prevent pregnancy.

“Richard Mourdock of Indiana seemed to blame God for such pregnancies, saying this was “something God intended to happen.” I think God should sue him for defamation,” he says.

“Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) buried his head in the sand, claiming he had never heard of an instance in which pregnancy occurred through statutory rape or incest,” reports Nita Lowey for Politico.

“Wisconsin State Rep. Roger Rivard employs the classic “blame the victim” strategy, recounting how he learned that “some girls rape so easy” and may agree to sex but later claim to have been raped if they become pregnant.”

These many and repeated catch-outs have played into the Democrats message about the Republican “War on Women.”

Unfortunately – and something his campaign managers should have warned him against – Paul Ryan was caught on camera flippantly dismissing women’s concerns.

“At a private fundraiser in Naples, Florida, on Thursday, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan mocked the so-called ‘war on women,’” reports Laura Basset at the Huffington Post.

“Now it’s a war on women; tomorrow it’s going to be a war on left-handed Irishmen or something like that,” Ryan told the crowd of donors.

The Democrats are referencing these examples to court the women’s vote.

“A vote for Barak Obama is a vote for women’s health and women’s rights” is central to their campaign message.

But while they criticise the Republicans, the Democrats are being questioned on motive.

“I’m glad that Democrats are jumping on Republican candidates’ words about rape, but I’d also like to see those Democrats contribute something more than sound bites,” says Nicholas Kristof at the NY Times.

While Obama is generally accepted as having a good voting record around women’s issues, this pursuit of female voters may have a lot to do with his 2008 election demographics.

As Harold Evans, writing for The Telegraph Group says, Obama won a mere 18% of the white vote in six of the Southern States of America.

“To be re-elected, Obama needs what he had last time – which was 80% of the minority vote and 40% of the white vote.”

In this case, exploiting the Republican’s missteps with women may be necessary to cement Obama’s win.

As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, “women ‘Obama defectors’ could swing the race,” and he needs the numbers.

If Obama does win the women’s vote, the internet will be watching to see he follows through on his position.



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