Good Morning and welcome to a new week. Over the weekend, in what has been touted as officially the beginning of his campaign, President Obama had rallies in Ohio and Virginia. Mitt Romeny surrogates and conservatives have made the claim that Obama is experiencing an enthusiasm gap with his supporters. The reason? He's not filling up arenas.
In this particular case, it all started with a tweet and photo:
RyanGOP View from floor during @BarackObama speech. Not the "overflow" crowd he promised http://tinyurl.com/7fcozsu #not2008anymore http://pic.twitter.com/ULNSIB4J
Conservative website Big Government website picked up on this one:
Barack Obama launched his campaign in unspectacular fashion today at Ohio State University, the largest college in the crucial swing state. A photo posted to twitter by Mitt Romney's campaign spokesman Ryan Williams reveals sparse attendance. The above image, according to Williams, was taken during the President's first official campaign speech.
On cue, conservative meme is re-born.
A Romney spokesperson said that this happened during the President's speech in Ohio.
It's not just pundits and conservatives, there was a question about it from Jake Tapper who was hosting "This Week
" on Sunday:
TAPPER: One of the issues that you guys are going to be facing, one of the headwinds is the lack of enthusiasm, or at least less enthusiasm. When I covered you guys, your campaign in 2007, 2008, you would — you and your staff members would excitedly regale us with the huge numbers of crowds, crowd estimates. At OSU, at Ohio State yesterday, in a stadium that seats about 18,000, there were roughly 14,000 people there. Now, granted, those 14,000 were very excited. They supported the president. But there were still more than 4,000 empty seats. Doesn’t that indicate that there is a problem you’re facing when it comes to fewer people who are excited about the president?
AXELROD: Jake, you should have gone along on the whole trip. In Virginia, there was an overflow crowd. And that’s the way it is. But the fact is that 14,000 is 11,000 more than the largest crowd that Mitt Romney has ever drawn.
One more thing -- This is a picture from Ohio DURING
In some circles this isn't only misinformation, but rather, a lie. It is a lie that was further perpetuated by people like Jake Tapper, who is legitimately part of the mainstream media. He is a reporter, and while he was asking his question as a host of a pundit show, it was strange that he was mirroring the message that Romney's camp had put out there and further catapulted by Andrew Brietbart's Big Government website. He may be gone, but his surrogates are willing to sling mud to the point when it becomes a mainstream media talking point, even when it is based on deceptive information. Telling people that there isn't enthusiasm is a perfect way to suppress enthusiasm. Consider a difference in the expectations of President Obama: oh, he ONLY got 14,000 people instead of 18,000. No one seems to be talking about the turnout at Romney campaign appearances. It's not about size or even sour grapes -- it is about telling truth and being intellectually honest. Voter enthusiasm is a legitimate debate topic. The way that it is being framed, and the circles from where it is originating is something else that should be discussed. This is where I have a problem.
Just to visualize what David Axelrod was speaking to, let's take a looks at what happened in Virginia this past week. This was taken in the Siegel Center in Richmond, Virginia during an Obama appearance.
Could be a serious enthusiasm gap, right? Compare to Mitt Romney's appearing in Portsmouth, Virginia last week:
Why isn't the Romney campaign being asked the kind of questions the Obama campaign is asked? Is it different expectations? Perhaps, but the reality is this: Fourteen thousand people is a lot of people no matter how you spin it.
Fired up? Ready to go? Let's go