The candidate: Barack Obama
The ad: The spot starts off by rehashing comments Obama's GOP rival made during a secretly recorded May speech, summarizing: "Mitt Romney attacked 47 percent of Americans who pay no income tax, including veterans, elderly, the disabled... Doesn't the president have to worry about everyone?" Then the narrator makes hay of Romney's 2011 tax return, which was released on Friday, saying that the GOP candidate paid "just 14.1 percent" in taxes last year, keeps millions in Caribbean tax shelters, and won't release any tax returns before 2010. "Maybe instead of attacking others on taxes, Romney should come clean on his," says the narrator. (Watch the ad below.)
The ad buy: The ad will air only in Ohio; the Obama campaign has not specified how much it's spending on air time.
The strategy: Ohio is "a crucial swing state where Romney was campaigning this week," says Julie Pace of The Associated Press, calling the spot a definite signal that the president will "keep making Romney's taxes a campaign issue." The theme is familiar, says Sarah Wheaton at The New York Times, but what distinguishes this latest spot is that it "weaves together" a critique of Romney's 47 percent comments with his ongoing tax narrative.
The reaction: Obama's smooth-talking ad "destroys" Romney, says Grace Wyler at Business Insider. It sure does, says Daily Kos — "with an elbow to Mitt's mouth." Let's not get too congratulatory, says Erika Johnsen at Hot Air: "What exactly is Team Obama accusing him of here?" By putting his cash in tax shelters, Romney is "merely doing what all law-abiding and rationally self-interested individuals do with their money." Until the tax code changes, Obama's insinuations of illegality are moot. As a matter of fact, "it stands to reason that Team Obama is attacking Mitt Romney for the audacity of, drumroll please... being rich. But, this isn't about class warfare." In reaction to the ad, the Romney campaign tried to change the subject from their candidate's personal finances, asserting more generally that "President Obama's tax increases on middle-class families will not make the next four years any better than the last four" and promising a Romney plan that would "lower taxes across the board."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- Why Israel can no longer let the Palestinian Authority be responsible for security in the West Bank
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- 10 things you need to know today: July 26, 2014
- Why you shouldn't eat dog. Not even once.
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How social conservatives became a minority in need of protection
- The week's best photojournalism
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- How to cook a perfect rib eye steak
Subscribe to the Week