Mitt Romney Has Decided That President Obama Made the Recession Worse After All

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Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

In his stump speech throughout the campaign, Mitt Romney has often insisted that while President Obama didn't cause the recession — gracious acknowledgment, that — he did make it worse and longer. Romney has never provided proof for such an assertion, and an AP fact check has debunked the claim. The economic recovery has been painfully slow, yes, but it has been a recovery. Last Thursday, pressed by a reporter on why he keeps saying something that appears to be untrue (answer: because it's a good line!), Romney unexpectedly flip-flopped, telling her, "I didn't say things are worse. What I said was that the economy hasn't turned around." Claiming he'd never said one of his go-to lines was an odd choice. And, it turns out, a temporary one. Yesterday in New Hampshire, Romney repeated the assertion that Obama "made the recession worse." Tomorrow he may flip back again; we'll just have to see.

While flip-flopping is never a good look, Romney's equivocating on this claim isn't actually a bad thing for him. The debate he's fueling is whether Obama made the recession worse, or merely oversaw a weak, unsatisfying recovery. Win-win. It reminds us of an incident in the 2010 Senate campaign in Pennsylvania, when the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce ran an ad claiming that Democratic congressman Joe Sestak, who was running for the Senate against Republican Pat Toomey, had voted with evil liberal freedom-snatcher Nancy Pelosi 100 percent of the time. The Sestak campaign protested that the ad was false and pressured local stations to pull it from the air. Sestak, they pointed out, had, in fact, "voted with Pelosi 96 percent of the time from 2007–2008, 100 percent of the time in 2009 and 94 percent of the time in 2010." So there.

Romney Says Obama Made the Recession Worse [Caucus/NYT]