Feature

Campaign 2012: Playing the race card

Both the Romney and Obama camps are sending coded messages to their bases.

There’s no doubt about it—Mitt Romney “is playing the race card,” said Elspeth Reeve in TheAtlantic.com. The Republican nominee’s aides have reportedly decided they need to get more combative against President Obama to win over white, working-class voters, so the ugly race-baiting has begun. At a campaign stop last week, Romney made a startling birther joke—“No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate,” he said. Then, in a blatant attempt to stir up white resentment, his campaign released a barrage of five attack ads that falsely accuse the president of gutting the 1996 welfare reform act so that welfare recipients “wouldn’t have to work. They just send you a check.” Another Romney ad shows a white senior citizen as the narrator says, “You paid into Medicare for years,” and accuses Obama of raiding that program to pay for health coverage for the poor. What this ugly new line of attack proves, said Timothy Noah in The New Republic, is that Romney is “willing to say just about anything to get himself elected president.”

Here we go again—more claims of racism by liberals, said Deroy Murdock in NationalReview.com. The irony is that “hatred, invective, and racial pot-stirring are light-years more common and intense on the Left.” Take Vice President Joe Biden’s outrageous warning to a largely black audience two weeks ago that Mitt Romney is “going to put y’all back in chains.” This was nothing but a “bizarre and crude effort to scare black people into voting Democrat, again.” In 2008, liberals hoped that Obama “would transcend race,” said Jonah Goldberg in LATimes.com. But now they hurl “ridiculous charges of racism” at every criticism of their sainted president. How about we debate the issues instead?

Like it or not, race will clearly play a pivotal role in this election, said Ronald Brownstein in NationalJournal.com. Romney’s camp knows Obama will dominate the Hispanic and black votes, so it needs 61 percent of a declining white vote to win. Obama’s camp knows that if he gets about 80 percent of the total minority vote, on the other hand, he’ll be re-elected. These calculations underscore the “depth of racial polarization shadowing this election.” Are the campaigns sending coded messages to their bases? You bet.

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