Its hard to believe this nasty and brutish presidential campaign is coming to an end. Through most of the race President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney were neck and neck when it came to misleading statements.
But then in the final months of the campaign, Romney pulled ahead (so to speak) with a series of statements and commercials that stretched the limits. Obamas bending of the facts also got worse and was nothing to be proud of.
Here are some of the lowlights of the 2012 campaign:
Most Absurd Fact
Republicans: Here Former House speaker Newt Gingrichs claim that Ronald Reagan never got a break from the elite media as an actor. As an example, Gingrich said only one of Reagans movies Kings Row got a good review from The New York Times. First, Reagan was a Democrat when he was in show business, so Gingrichs point was nonsensical. Second, four of Reagans top 10 movies got raves from The New York Times and Kings Row was panned.
Democrats: Making a pitch for the presidents jobs bill, Vice President Joe Biden repeatedly claimed that incidents of rape in Flint, Mich., had tripled after the police force was cut, as part of a dubious argument that there was a connection between the crime rate and the number of police. He even asserted that rapes and other crime would increase if Republicans did not vote for the jobs bill. But you need to have your facts straight if you are going to make incendiary charges. The Washington Post investigated, and it turned out that incidents of rape in Flint actually fell after the number of police was cut.
Worst Super PAC Ad
Republicans: A pro-Gingrich super PAC released a 29-minute video titled King of Bain, which portrayed Romney as a greedy job killer ruining the lives of Americans. It foreshadowed the Obama campaigns attacks on Romneys record as chief of Bain Capital, but it was so over the top that it made many of those later ads seem tame. One case study featured selectively edited footage of interviews of workers, who later said they were misled about the purpose of the film. They actually had no complaints about Romney or Bain at all.
Democrats: Priorities USA Action, a pro-Obama group, aired a provocative ad that suggested Romney was responsible for the cancer death of the wife of a former steelworker who had lost his health insurance. But it turned out she died from cancer five years after the closure of the plant and had her own health insurance for a period after the steelworker, Joe Soptic, lost his job. As The Post put it, On just every level, this ad stretches the bounds of common sense and decency.
Republicans: Until The Post highlighted this claim, Romney had made this line a regular staple of his campaign stump speech: We are the only people on the Earth that put our hand over our heart during the playing of the national anthem. The Post disproved this by randomly searching YouTube and finding numerous examples of sports figures and schoolchildren from around the world placing their hands on their hearts during the playing of their national anthems. Apparently, Romney was trying to ding Obama for once failing to do so during the 2008 campaign, but his belief in American exceptionalism was misplaced.
Democrats: Obamas claim that President Rutherford B. Hayes was so adverse to new ideas that he had asked of the telephone: Who would ever use one? It turns out that the 19th president was such an advocate of new technology that he not only thought the telephone was wonderful but also installed the first one in Washington, in the White House, just four months after it was introduced. His telephone number was 1.
Most Baseless Claim
Republicans: The repeated claim that Obama said that government, not people, built successful businesses. The truncated quote you didnt build that, drawn from a late-night rally with ungrammatical phrasing by Obama, became the basis of repeated attack ads and even the first night of the GOP convention. But any fair reading of Obamas comments showed he was making a standard Democratic argument about community success and that that referred to roads and bridges.
Democrats: Sen. Harry Reids repeated claim, made with zero evidence, that Romney hadnt paid any taxes for 10 years. The Nevada Democrat said he knew this was true because a person who had invested with Bain Capital had called his office and told him this fact. The Post couldnt find a single expert who thought there was any credibility to the Senate majority leaders reckless claim. Romney eventually released a summary prepared by his accountants showing he had paid federal and state taxes in each of the past 20 years.
Claim That Would Not Die
Republicans: Nearly two years ago, The Post looked at Romneys claim that Obama had gone on an apology tour as a new president and The Post found no evidence to back up the assertion. Yet a version of that claim appeared in almost every speech by the Republican nominee, and Romney defended it in the final presidential debate.
Democrats: The Obama campaign repeatedly asserted that Romney, while at Bain Capital, had outsourced jobs to foreign countries such as China and had sent jobs to India as governor of Massachusetts. The evidence was slim, at best, and often turned on obscure issues as whether Romney still ran Bain Capital while taking a leave to manage the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.