After Mitt Romney returned from his truly horrid overseas trip this week, one of his campaign aides tried to put a positive spin on the candidate's inexplicable gaffes. The problem, the staffer said, is that Romney "has a tendency to speak his mind and to say what he believes."
The idea is, the Republican presidential hopeful is bound to get in trouble once in a while because he's just such an honest, candid guy. To borrow an '08 frame, Romney's a "straight talker."
The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus could hardly believe the argument, calling it "about as knee-slapping a spin effort as I've ever seen." She added, " Mitt Romney has many strengths and many flaws. Being an unvarnished truth-teller does not fall in either category."
To consider this problem in more detail, consider the 28th installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt's mendacity.
1. Romney told reporters this afternoon, "The president has also raised taxes on the middle class, so said the Supreme Court."
He's referring to an individual mandate that would apply to 1% of the population. And if President Obama's health care policy "raised taxes on the middle class," then Mitt Romney raised taxes on the middle class.
2. In a statement responding to the July jobs report, Romney argued, "President Obama doesn't have a plan" to create jobs.
Romney doesn't have to like the American Jobs Act, but he shouldn't get away with brazenly lying about its existence.
3. At a campaign event in Golden, Colorado, yesterday, Romney said "we have fewer jobs that have been created" under Obama.
He didn't specific -- "fewer" than what? - but by Romney's own stated standard, nearly 4.5 million private-sector jobs have been created under Obama.
4. In the same speech, Romney said in reference to the president, "He said he'd hold unemployment below 8 percent."
As Romney surely knows by now, that's simply not true.
5. Romney went on to complain, "[W]e've seen record numbers of foreclosures."
Putting aside how dishonest it is for Romney to blame the housing crash on the president, let's also not forget that Romney intends to deliberately avoid any efforts to curtail foreclosures.
6. Romney also argued, "We are at a 30 year low in the number of business start-ups that have occurred. A 30 year low."
He's still telling this whopper?
7. Reflecting on his one term as governor, Romney said, "I added jobs. We've added more jobs than the president has in the entire country."
Romney had one of the worst jobs records of any governor in the country, and so long as we're playing by Romney's rules, his job-creation totals don't come close to Obama's.
8. Complaining about Democrats, Romney said, "[O]ur friends across the aisle and the president, they have a different view. They think, well we should just raise taxes, that's the primary way they think we should cut the deficit."
Actually, in 2011, when Democrats offered Republicans a massive debt-reduction deal, the "primary way" they closed the budget gap was through spending cuts.
9. He also argued, "When you raise taxes, you lower growth."
That may be Romney's opinion, but there's overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Both Reagan and Clinton raised taxes, and economic growth soared soon after. (This is not to say there's a causal relationship, only that categorical statements like these about what happens when taxes go up aren't true.)
10. On health care, Romney said, "We also have to make sure that people with pre-existing conditions don't have to be denied care."
At a minimum, that's wildly misleading. Under Romney's approach, millions of people with pre-existing conditions would be denied coverage -- and occasionally his campaign even admits it.
11. Condemning the Affordable Care Act, Romney said, "Obamacare, we simply can't afford trillions of dollars in more federal spending. It gets more and more expensive as time goes on."
That's the exact opposite of reality. "Obamacare" cuts the deficit, and the saving increase as time goes on.
12. On the same point, Romney argued, "We simply can't afford to have federal bureaucrats telling us what kind of health care we can have."
There is nothing in the Affordable Care Act that empowers bureaucrats to tell Americans what kind of health care they can have.
13. Romney soon added, "And we sure as heck can't have Obamacare cut Medicare by over $500 billion."
Romney says this a lot. He's not telling the truth.
14. Pointing to his five-part agenda, Romney said, "We got our economists. We go through and say, OK how many jobs will be creating -- created just by doing those things? And I got more coming down the road, but just those things alone create 12 million new American jobs."
If we do nothing, we're on track to create 12 million new American jobs over the next four years anyway.
15. In an interview with Fox's Sean Hannity, Romney claimed, "That's one of the first principles of my plan, which is, high-income people will continue to pay the same share of taxes they pay today."
That's not true. The wealthy would receive a massive, disproportionate tax break under the Romney plan.
16. In the same interview, Romney said, "[I]f anyone's going to get a break, a tax break, it's going to be middle Americans. They're the people who deserve it."
The middle class may deserve it, but independent analysis shows that the middle class would see their federal tax burden go up, not down, under Romney's plan.
17. Romney unveiled a "report card" in Colorado this week that claims job creation has gone down during Obama's first term.
18. The same "report card" claims unemployment has gone up under Obama.
It's actually down from 10% in 2009, and is slightly lower than it was when Obama took office.
19. The "report card" says the budget deficit has gone up since Obama took office.
The deficit has gone down since Obama took office. It was $1.3 trillion on Inauguration Day 2009, and it's projected to be $1.1 trillion this year.
20. The "report card" also claims Massachusetts' budget deficit went down during Romney's only term in office.
Actually, it went up.
21. In a minute-long biographical ad unveiled this week, Romney claims he knows what it's like "to wonder whether you're going to be able to make ends meet."
That's plainly false.
22. In the same ad, Romney says he had the "best jobs record of any Massachusetts governor in the last decade," citing the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That's wildly misleading. He's comparing two records: his jobs record vs. his successor's, and Deval Patrick was governor when the economy crashed in 2008.
23. In the ad, he went on to boast that, after he oversaw the 2002 Olympics, he put $100 million "into an endowment there for the future of Olympic sport."
It wasn't $100 million and he's only really talking about part of the federal taxpayer bailout he didn't manage to spend.
24. Romney released a new ad this week, featuring an Obama quote: "We tried our plan -- and it worked."
The quote is wrenched from context in a rather ridiculous way.
25. In an interview with Fox News after his controversial remarks in Jerusalem, Romney said he "did not speak about the Palestinian culture or the decisions made in their economy."
26. On a related note, during the Jerusalem remarks, Romney said GDP per capita in Israel "is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita."
None of those figures are true.
27. Also in Israel, Romney claimed Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel "basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth."
None of this has any foundation in reality.
28. Romney told CBS this week that President Reagan, during his tenure, sent troops into harm's way "only in one circumstance, which was in Grenada.... We were in a peacekeeping setting in Lebanon."
Romney's version of history is sharply at odds with the actual version of history.