Stephanie Cutter, a top adviser to the Obama campaign, said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that the Des Moines Register's endorsement of Republican nominee Mitt Romney was not "based at all in reality."
The influential Iowa paper argued that Romney was more likely to be able to reach bipartisan consensus in Washington. "Which candidate could forge the compromises in Congress to achieve these goals? When the question is framed in those terms, Mitt Romney emerges the stronger candidate," the paper suggested.
There is a twisted logic to the Register's argument. Congressional Republicans famously met as President Barack Obama was being inaugurated and pledged to stick together in united, lockstep opposition to his agenda, whatever that agenda might prove to be. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said publicly that his top priority was making sure that Obama was a one-term president. With the Republicans firmly committed to opposing Obama at every turn, it does stand to reason that Obama could have a hard time working with them in Congress. The Register's answer to the problem, to put a Republican in the White House, is what Cutter means when she calls the editorial divorced from reality.
"It was a little surprising to read that editorial, because it didn't seem to be based at all in reality, not just in the president's record, but in Mitt Romney's record. It says that he'd reach across the aisle, which he'd do the exact opposite. It's the exact opposite of what he did in Massachusetts," she said.
"And, of course, over the course of running for president over this last six years, he's never once stood up to the far extreme right wing," Cutter continued. "Just this past week we saw it, when he wouldn't take down his ad for Richard Mourdock, who had -- you know, it's a now famous comment that it's God's will if a woman gets pregnant through rape. He's not willing to stand up when it matters."
When Romney served as governor of Massachusetts, he and the state legislature repeatedly clashed, with the lawmakers often overriding Romney's vetoes.
"So the fact that he's going to bring people together and work across the aisle is just nonsense," said Cutter. "And in terms of newspaper endorsements, you know, we feel pretty good about where we are. This morning brings the Miami Herald, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the New York Times, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Toledo Blade, the Youngstown Vindicator. I could go on. We feel good. There is momentum. There is movement out there with people wanting a second term of an Obama presidency. We feel good about where we are."
The Register editorial notes that the endorsement followed "vigorous debate" internally. It marks the first time the paper has endorsed a Republican in 40 years.