Once again, to borrow an expression, Democrats are asking a Republican to differentiate himself from something he didn’t say:
President Obama’s campaign is looking to seize on a pair of controversial comments by supporters at Mitt Romney’s town-hall meeting in Cleveland Monday, calling on the presumptive Republican nominee to “stand up to the extreme voices in his party.”
“Today we saw Mitt Romney’s version of leadership: standing by silently as his chief surrogate attacked the President’s family at the event and another supporter alleged that the President should be tried for treason,” said Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith in a statement. “Time after time in this campaign, Mitt Romney has had the opportunity to show that he has the fortitude to stand up to hateful and over-the-line rhetoric and time after time, he has failed to do so. If this is the ‘leadership’ he has shown on the campaign trail, what can the American people expect of him as commander-in-chief?”
(Via Washington Examiner.) You see, Romney had ignored a supporter’s aside saying that she believed Obama “should be tried for treason” when she asked the candidate about “about the separation of power in the United States’.”
Well, let’s hold President Obama to the Lis Smith standard. The Democrat invited Dan Savage to the White House for a “Pride Reception.” A number of White House officials have cut videos on behalf of Mr. Savage’s It Gets Better Project. Several administration departments and programs have backed the project. And while the project certainly has a noble goal, its creator is anything but a noble individual, regularly making hateful comments about conservatives and Christians. He even tried to infect campaign workers for one Republican candidate with the flu.
Now, to be sure, the White House can back a project without supporting every word its creator said, but given the Obama spokesperson’s comments, shouldn’t we then expect Mr. Obama to stand up to the hateful rhetoric and mean-spirited actions of the creator of a project it has backed? I mean, they’re holding Mitt Romney responsible for not faulting a woman who just asked a question for her aside. And Mr. Savage’s comments are more than asides.
Time after time since he took office, Barack Obama has had the opportunity to show that he has the fortitude to stand up to hateful and over-the-line rhetoric and time after time, he has failed to do so. If this is the ‘leadership’ he has shown in his first term, what can the American people expect of him in his second?
Romney answered the question he was asked. No one pushed him around. He chose not to dignify the woman’s aside about treason with a response.
Romney could have chosen to deny that Obama has committed, or should be tried for, treason. That might have been the better, more nimble response. But the way he handled the questioner was fine too, and certainly doesn’t amount to a failure to stand up to the woman.
If the MSM is interested in Romney’s view on whether Obama is a traitor, it can ask him, something the woman didn’t do.
UP-UPDATE: Ann Althouse (via Ann Althouse @ Instapundit) doesn’t think Romney needed rebuke the audience member:
Romney doesn’t need to go all beta when an audience member states her antagonism to Obama in a strong way. He doesn’t need to scold and discipline Obama’s antagonists. Romney’s approach to answering the question asked was just fine, though it is perfectly understandable why the Obama campaign would like Romney to get sidetracked into defending Obama.
UP-UPDATE: Did Mr. Obama differentiate himself from these folks accusing the then-president of treason?