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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Washington Post blogger Jen Rubin on the latest hit job by Obama, and how fast Team Romney countered

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HH: Right now, though, I’m joined from Washington, D.C. by Washington Post blogger, Jen Rubin. Jen, welcome back, good to talk to you.

JR: It’s always good to be here.

HH: There’s so much to cover. I had Dan Balz and Nina Easton in the first hour, and I want to go over some of the same stories with you, and I want to start with the attack on Mitt Romney in his Bain days. I’m personally astonishes at the Obama team bringing up the creation or non-creation of jobs, when this is the president’s Achilles heel, Jen. What say you?

JR: Well, I think this one didn’t go off as well as they had planned for a variety of reasons. First of all, you’re right. As soon as you get back to talking about jobs, job creation, you’re playing on Mitt Romney’s side of the field. So that’s for starters. Secondly, unlike the primary, the Romney campaign was really ready to fight this one out and they pulled an ad of their own that they had obviously prepared in advance right off the shelf, this one about a steel company much larger than the one that eventually closed, created many more jobs than the one that had lost jobs, and oh, by the way, the plant that they picked, that the Obama campaign picked to depict in their ad, lost those jobs not under Mitt Romney, but it turns out, under a guy who is a bundler for Obama. So this whole thing, I think, has turned into a little calamity. Moreover, in a conference call with conservative bloggers, smart move, by the way, with the Romney people, trying to get in better communication with the conservative media, Ed Gillespie made the good point that listen, you know, for all of the talk that the Obama campaign wants to have about losing jobs, making jobs, these are the people who brought you crony capitalism. Is that how they think capitalism should work, that only your friends get jobs, only your friends get loans? So I think they had a pretty effective multi-front response today. It’s going to be interesting to see whether the Obama campaign keeps up with this, or whether they switch to something else. It’s an issue a day, it seems with them.

HH: Yeah, Jen, let’s pause there for a moment. When I was talking to Dan Balz last hour, I said to him, you know, I’m amazed that they would make this rollout on gay marriage, and all of a sudden, five days later, what was supposed to be the biggest thing ever, and the first gay president is on the cover of Newsweek, and Hollywood is toasting him, and they want to move to Bain? That tells me that their weekend polling showed that’s not an issue they want to spend a lot of time on.

JR: Yeah, I think that was at most an even break for them, and maybe a little bit of a net negative, just because I think social conservatives are now much more enthusiastic about Mitt Romney than ever before. It tells me that they’re kind of spinning their wheels. They’re throwing a lot of plates up in the air, trying to distract people. Ed Gillespie called it using the shiny object to distract the press and the voters. And I think after a while, number one, you run out, and number two, there’s a sameness to all of them, so I think the voters at some point kind of roll their eyes. He’s got a problem, though. He can’t really run on his record. So what’s he going to do? He’s going to try to come up with all these other side issues, and attacking Romney, and I think he’s got a fundamental problem that he’s probably not going to solve doing all of this.

HH: Now what’s interesting is that Gillespie would do a conference call. Did he allow the bloggers to interact with him? Or was it sort of spoken word performance?

JR: He did an introduction that lasted maybe, oh, ten minutes or so, and then he did entertain questions. So Bob Costa asked him a question, I asked him a question, there was a Red State blogger that asked him a question. So they were fully ready to engage, and at the end of the call, I think it was a little bit more than simple politeness. He said you know, we should do this again, meaning that I think they’re going to use these sorts of forums to get their message out. And it’s remarkably successful, because what they can do in ten minutes of Ed Gillespie’s time, and I assume he was in Boston or wherever he had to be, that he can send out a news story that’s going to get coverage in the conservative community, and as you know, that then gets picked up by the so-called mainstream media and other outlets. So they get a lot of bang for their buck doing it this way. And I think by sending Ed Gillespie out, they said to the bloggers, number one, they take them seriously, and number two, they take the issue seriously. So I think it was a smart move all around. Moreover, Romney never had to say a word about this all day long. And that’s important, too. I don’t think you want the candidate responding to each and every barb. He can keep on message. He’s talking this week about the debt, deficit, spending excess, and he can keep on the high ground and keep going, while Ed Gillespie and the ads, and the blogs, and everybody else point out all the things we’ve just been talking about.

HH: Jennifer Rubin is my guest. She is a Washington Post blogger, and I start my day, I always read Jen’s posts throughout the day. You ought to as well. Now Jen, the question I have is really inside baseball, and I hope the audience bears with me, but this is very important. So Ed Gillespie and the campaign sets up a conference call with you and Robert Costa. Right there, you’ve got two of the top five to ten bloggers on the center-right.

JR: Right.

HH: Did they include, for example, Michael Shear of the New York Times or Nate Silver of the New York Times, because I think it would be good politics to mix the right and the left, and thus set a standard for which President Obama might be held accountable, because he never ever engages with anyone who’s not solidly, 100% Obama. What do you think about that? And were there any center-lefties on the call?

JR: Not that I’m aware of, and the way it was presented is this was a conservative blogger call. But I think you raise a very good point, and that is that…and not only Ed Gillespie, but other people on the campaign have nothing to lose by interacting with some of these people. And frankly, some of the people you just named are a lot more reasonable than some of the folks you’re going to see out there in the mainstream media.

HH: Yup.

JR: And you know, Nate Silver’s a pretty smart guy.

HH: Yup.

JR: And Shear’s a smart guy as well. So I think that would be a smart thing to do, no matter what the Romney campaign does. I don’t think the Obama campaign is going to change. They don’t have a candidate, and they don’t have a message that can withstand, I think, an assault by informed conservative journalists. So I don’t think they’re going to do it. But as the campaign goes on, particularly if Romney is beginning to make headway into independent voters and even Democrats, he is certainly going to want to make his message known through every outlet he can get a hold of, and that would be one say to do it.

HH: Yeah, here’s the danger, and it is buying into the paradigm that there is a conservative blogosphere and a liberal blogosphere, and a fair media in the middle. Everyone’s got a point of view, Jen Rubin.

JR: Right.

HH: Every single person who writes, it’s all text, by the way. I quote Lileks here. It’s all text, and so everyone’s got a point of view. And if they set up calls, it’s okay to do that once or twice, but if they begin to segregate the media, they will be buying into the idea that there is a fabled promised land of objectivity, and that just ain’t so.

JR: That’s very true. I did a post over the weekend which got some attraction that I think you may have even retweeted it for me, so thank you for that, Hugh, basically, ten tests for telling whether an outlet is in the tank for Obama.

HH: Great post.

JR: And I didn’t think of the halo. I have to add that as number 11 on an update this morning. But really, sort of ten tests. What I did is take normal, everyday stories, language that you hear that’s applied to Romney that is never applied to Obama – the whole bullying narrative, it’s gotten exactly one incident in Romney’s high school time. Do they talk about Obama’s current bullying of donors to Republicans and Republican causes? Do they talk about the bullying of the EPA to business? The narrative only runs one way, as you know, in many of these so-called mainstream media outlets, and that’s why I think it’s helpful every once in a while for us to give readers and viewers and listeners a roadmap to go in, being able to spot what they’re listening to, and being able to detect when the bias is there.

HH: Reaching the high water mark. Jen Rubin of the Washington Post, great post there, great post always. Thanks for joining me.

End of interview.

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