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Date published: 9/7/2012
WASHINGTON--It's a fact of life in Washington that what one party considers a principled stand, the opposition considers pigheadedness. And that one side's negative ads are branded a dastardly tactic by the other, even as both do it.
When former President Bill Clinton spoke at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night, he portrayed President Barack Obama as a pragmatic compromiser who has been stymied at every turn by Republicans. There was no mention of the role that the president and the Democrats have played in grinding compromise to a halt on some of the most important issues facing the country.
A look at some of the claims from Democrats and Obama in the closing chapter of the convention:
OBAMA: "This is still going to be a really close election, and the other side is preparing to unleash just a barrage of negative ads. They're getting massive checks from wealthy donors. The good thing is, I've got you. So I really need your help, guys. I need you to prove the cynics wrong one more time. I need you to remember that nothing is more powerful than the work that you guys do."
THE FACTS: Obama has much more on his side than flocks of volunteers and small donors, as important as they are. The two parties and allied outside groups have drenched the airwaves with $540 million in TV ads, many of them negative and deceptive, and that pace is only going to pick up. The barrage of negativity is coming from Obama's side, too.
Obama is lagging Republican rival Mitt Romney in raising money, a point of such concern that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is stepping down as co-chair of Obama's campaign to help raise cash for an independent super PAC supporting Obama's re-election.
Recent changes in campaign-finance regulations have enabled super PACs, outside political action committees bankrolled by wealthy Americans, to spend huge sums on aggressive ads that ostensibly are beyond the control of the candidates' own campaign. Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, who studies the issue, says these third-party ads have increased the "sheer amount of deception" in political communications.