Barack Obama's reelection campaign and the allied Democratic National Committee swiftly responded to Mitt Romney's latest personal attack on the president with character-related attacks of their own.
In an interview with The Huffington Post's Jon Ward on Thursday, Romney charged the president with woeful insensitivity for suggesting that people were too pessimistic about current economic conditions, considering where they could have been. It was, he asserted, a line reminiscent of one of history's haughtiest figures.
"When the president's characterization of our economy was, 'It could be worse,' it reminded me of Marie Antoinette: 'Let them eat cake,'" said Romney.
Efforts to cast Barack Obama as an elitist are nothing new. But for Democrats, a particular aggravation arises when the charge comes from Romney's lips. The former Massachusetts governor, after all, is hardly a rags-to-riches figure. In pushing back against his Antoinette quip, the Obama team emptied out the proverbial closet of anecdotes that cast Romney as an elitist.
"It is actually laughable that the 'Quarter-Billion-Dollar Man' would call President Obama out of touch -- and use the example of a French monarch to make the point," DNC spokeswoman Melanie Roussell said in a statement to The Huffington Post on Thursday evening. "This is the same guy who joked that he was 'unemployed,' offered a $10,000 bet as casually as one might buy a cup of coffee, and said 'corporations are people.' He's also the same person who, as a former corporate buyout specialist for Bain Capital, made his fortune firing thousands of workers, cutting benefits, bankrupting American companies and outsourcing jobs overseas. He's the one who won't release his tax returns -- most likely because we would all learn that he pays a lower tax rate than middle class wage-earners. Laughable."
Tightening the screws a bit, Obama campaign Press Secretary Ben LaBolt quickly followed suit, tweeting out a link to a video of Mitt Romney speaking French for an introduction of the volunteers at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
It's worth noting that past efforts to go after the president for having an elitist worldview have had mixed success. In 2008, Sen. John McCain's campaign deemed Obama a "celebrity." This cycle, Romney spent some time accusing him of enjoying the faculty lounges of Harvard more than real Americana.
Neither of those charges stuck, largely because they didn't mesh well with the story of the president's upbringing, but also because McCain was the definition of a political celebrity and Romney holds degrees from two Harvard graduate schools.
What's been more effective has been to apply the charge of elitism to Obama's policies and, more specifically, his advisers, several of whom (especially on his economic team) came from the top perches of academia, politics and the financial sector.
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