Debate Debrief: Romney vs. The Truth

Debate Debrief: Romney vs. The Truth October 4, 2012

Wondering how to talk about last night’s debate?  We’ve already had some great discussion about it over on FD’s facebook wall.  Message Matters has also now put out these great talking point.  FD’s own Eric Sapp (@SappEric) is one of the lead editors on this daily messaging memo.

Debate Debrief: Romney vs. The Truth

We watched the debate, heard the pundits react, and read the fact-checkers. Here’s what’s next.

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  • We have these tasks at hand:
    • Answer the question of who performed well on the national stage.
    • Make values ascendant and call out Romney for lying. A winning strategy does all.
  • On values: we heard many policy details and numbers last night, but underlying these layers is a difference of values and vision for America. We must raise values back up to the top.
  • On facts: we must not let the lies go unaddressed, but not let values go either. Romney is misrepresenting his own plans because he knows the vision and values they represent are unpopular. Expose the truth in a way that makes the choice between the two visions in this election clear.
  • On framing: this is about Romney vs. The Truth. This allows us to move past the debate performances and towards the broader themes characterizing this election.

What happened last night? Just what we expected:

  • The incumbent president, who’s been busy governing the country, faced a challenger who has nothing else to do other than try to unseat his opponent.
  • Romney practiced for this particular debate all summer, after years of running for president and squaring off against his primary opponents in 23 debates this year alone.
  • True to his campaign’s declaration that they do not care what the fact checkers say, Romney kept repeating the same falsehoods he has used throughout his campaign.
  • If a politician is willing to say anything, it’s not hard to win. If Romney won last night, then the truth lost.


Romney’s tax plan really does raise taxes on the middle class to cut them for millionaires.

  • Do we want a country where everybody pays their fair share — or a country where working families pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires?
  • Do we want a country where “we’re all in it together,” with citizens lifting up and taking responsibility for one another and for themselves — or “I’ve got mine, you’re on your own”?
  • Let’s remember what Romney said behind closed doors about half of America, including working families, students, and retired seniors: they’re irresponsible dependents who aren’t paying taxes.
  • No wonder his tax plan would make you pay more so the richest few can pay less. It’s as if Romney thinks that struggling people aren’t struggling enough and our middle class isn’t already bearing enough of the burden.

FACT: Romney’s $5 trillion tax plan would cut taxes for a wealthy and raise them for working families — making a middle class family pay $2,000 more so a multimillionaire can pay $250,000 less.

FACT: Independent think tanks and fact checkers have clearly established that what Romney is claiming about his tax plan — cut middle class taxes, keep them the same for the wealthy, and not add to the deficit — is mathematically impossible.

FACT: The five studies that Romney cited to back up his claims, as well as criticisms of the Tax Policy Center’s findings, don’t exist or contradict Romney’s claims.


Romney’s plan really is to replace guaranteed Medicare with little vouchers and make seniors go fight the insurance companies.

  • Americans pay into Medicare with each paycheck, expecting that Medicare will be there for them so they can retire in dignity.
  • After a lifetime of working hard and playing by the rules, our seniors deserve to expect that Medicare will continue to guarantee their health coverage for life.
  • True to the idea that we’re in this together and we’re stronger for it, Medicare uses the massive negotiating clout of the nearly 50 million Americans with Medicare now to keep costs down for all.
  • But Romney would end Medicare as we know it. He wants to give seniors a little coupon and make them go fight with the big insurance companies to get coverage.

FACT: Obamacare preserves every dime of Medicare benefits and guarantees your Medicare coverage for life. Romney-Ryan does not.

FACT: Romney is attacking Obamacare for the same $700 billion savings from cutting waste out of Medicare — which he supported. Except now he’d put that waste back into Medicare, shortening the life of its trust fund.


The best way to deal with the deficit is to put Americans back to work — not fire Big Bird.

  • The best way to deal with the deficit is to put Americans back to work.
  • Romney’s plan to deal with the deficit? Fire Big Bird.
  • When your family needs money to repair the roof, you stop handing out gifts to your millionaire uncle instead of raiding your child’s college savings.

FACT: Under President Obama, the private sector has created five million jobs over the past 30 months. Romney’s “jobs plan” would mean massive layoffs — two million jobs lost in the next two years alone.

FACT: Actually, contrary to Romney’s lie about doubling the deficit, President Obama cut the deficit. Whether you’re comparing the deficit now to its size when Obama took office or as a share of the economy, the deficit is lower.

FACT: Romney’s own party pushed for the Bush policies behind today’s deficits — including the wasteful Bush tax cuts for the richest 2% and the recession that threw taxpayers off their jobs.

We develop messaging by aggregating, analyzing and distilling polling, tested messaging, and expert recommendations, and monitoring the media to identify what is and isn’t working. See here for some of the experts and organizations we draw on.

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