Romney Campaign: Part of Hidden Camera Video is "Debunked and Selectively Edited"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 19 2012 4:40 PM

Romney Campaign: Part of Hidden Camera Video is "Debunked and Selectively Edited"

Every day, the presidential campaigns blast out multiple messaging e-mails to reporters, to make sure that we know what they're spinning. It's very kind, and we appreciate it.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

This afternoon's Romney campaign email goes a little further. I'll excerpt the relevant bit.

Today, The Obama Campaign Leveled False Attacks Against Mitt Romney Based On A Debunked And Selectively Edited Video:
Today, Obama Campaign Spokesperson Ben LaBolt Attacked Mitt Romney Based On A DebunkedMother Jones Tape. OBAMA CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN BEN LABOLT: “You heard on the tapes released this week that it's Mitt Romney who would walk away from the peace process.” (MSNBC, 9/19/12)
But This Morning, Politico Reported That The Mother Jones Video Was Selectively Edited To Give A False Impression About Mitt Romney’s Views On The Middle East Peace Process. “But the clip initially provided by Mother Jones does not include that part of his remarks, and therefore was not reported by the aforementioned news outlets. Romney's complete remarks about the Mideast peace process were included in the complete video Mother Jones published Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after it released clips from the fundraiser. But the clip posted to the Mother Jones website, which was cited by the national media, cuts out the excerpt in which Romney says that ‘American strength, American resolve’ will cause the Palestinians to ‘some day reach the point where they want peace more than we’re trying to force peace on them.’”  (Dylan Byers, “Technically, Romney Said Peace Was Possible,”Politico, 9/19/12)
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Having seen the whole excerpt, you know what the Romney campaign is calling "selectively edited." Not the "47 percent stuff." The campaign is criticizing the clip -- part of the original Mother Jones package -- in which Romney mused about Israel.

What you do is you say, "You move things along the best way you can." You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem. We live with that in China and Taiwan. All right, we have a potentially volatile situation but we sort of live with it, and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it. We don't go to war to try and resolve it imminently.

You see the Romney campaign's point. Later in the dinner, he suggests that maybe there's some way America can resolve the crisis. But by calling the tape "debunked" and "selectively edited," the campaign's hewing closer to the Breitbart.com argument -- the real story is liberal media-Obama collusion. And the result is a sort of paradox, in which Romney stands by what he said in a video that you can't trust.

UPDATE: I didn't note this clearly in my first take: The Romney campaign is only contesting the portion of the video that deals with Israel, which Mother Jones spun off into its own story. The added video content changes the meaning slightly. I said "whole tape" initially, and that's been deleted.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.