Dear President Obama,
I thank you for your service to our nation and applaud your passion on many issues including health care, gay marriage and a compassionate approach to immigration reform. You are an admirable politician and a level-headed president.
But I ask you to consider how your campaign strategists, in an understandable desire to win, diminish you in their efforts to demean your opponent, Mitt Romney.
Look at how your campaign, your surrogates and your advertisements define you.
Putting aside the unauthorized comments, like from Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen who said, "Anne Romney never worked a day in her life," consider these other malicious attacks:
The attacks on Bain. You and your allies have continued to spend millions on ads attacking Mitt Romney with half-truths and allegations about Bain, often for things that never occurred or did not occur while he was there. New Jersey Mayor Corey Booker, a Democrat, found the attack "nauseating." Steve Rattner, formerly President Obama's car czar, called it "unfair." Former President Bill Clinton agreed that Romney was a successful businessman and qualified to be president. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, also a Democrat, called the attack "disappointing." Mitt Romney created and ran a successful company. The Bain smear campaign is beneath you. And you should apologize and fire your campaign official who said Romney committed a "felony."
The attacks on Romney's wealth. Former President John Kennedy inherited wealth. In fact, his family was worth $1 billion. While Romney certainly benefitted from his family paying for his education, his earned wealth pales in comparison. Not to mention, he worked throughout school and created Bain with his own funds. Romney capitalized on the American Dream and the entrepreneurial philosophy to create value and jobs and make money. Romney was successful. Get over it. Your campaign efforts to demonize Romney for his wealth, and even your "tax the rich" mantra, are simply unsuccessful and divisive political ploys inappropriate for a leader seeking to unite the country.
The attacks on Romney for investing overseas. You mislead the country when you say that Romney outsourced jobs while working at Bain Capital and invested money in a Chinese manufacturing company. Recently the Romney campaign released a video that refutes your attacks. When did trade and investment become an evil and disqualifying condition of becoming president? We encourage foreign investment in the U.S. and want Americans to have the freedom to invest abroad. Romney has not violated any laws and his funds are in a blind trust, yet your administration attempts to paint this as an anti-American agenda. Yet many leading Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, and almost every pension fund, including union funds, invest abroad.
Romney as the "Other." Your campaign has capitalized on the "other guy" strategy, characterizing Romney as out of touch with the American spirit. He's too rich, he's too religious and he's too frugal. These attacks and many others are similar to Vice President Biden's concerted effort to paint Governor Romney as a foreigner, a rich Mormon and someone who is different than "normal" Americans. Politico writer Roger Simon called this the Democrat "Other" Strategy in order to portray your opponent as "the guy ... who does not act like a real American." What a sad political move -- perhaps too common in many political races.
You have substantive differences with Governor Romney on economics, tax policy, social issues and health care so there is plenty of substance to discuss. You can and should make your case to the American people that you are the better candidate on these issues.
You should hold yourself above the attacks from your campaign. They only serve to diminish you. As for Governor Romney, he too has accused you of European-style socialism -- but this is not a personal attack -- it is a judgment of your economic views. To his credit, Mr. Romney and his surrogates are not mentioning personal issues in your background.
Mr. President, if you believe in your issues, stick to them and stop the personal attacks. When you demean your opponent, you only demean yourself.
Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer electronics companies, and author of the New York Times bestselling book, "The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream." Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro
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