Barack Obama's reelection campaign has seized on this blind quotation in today's edition of the British newspaper the Telegraph:
As the Republican presidential challenger accused Barack Obama of appeasing America's enemies in his first foreign policy speech of the US general election campaign, advisers told The Daily Telegraph that he would abandon Mr Obama’s “Left-wing” coolness towards London.
In remarks that may prompt accusations of racial insensitivity, one suggested that Mr Romney was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries than Mr Obama, whose father was from Africa.
“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have”.
The Obama campaign, at least subtly, is suggesting that the unnamed Romney adviser was using racial undertones when speaking about President Obama's relationship with Britain. (Obama cheerleaders, being ever less subtle, are coming out and calling it racism. "The Romney campaign has steadily given up on racist dog-whistles in its attacks on Barack Obama and gone for the megaphone instead," writes one left-wing organ.)
The Romney campaign, for their part, is saying that “It’s not true. ... If anyone said that, they weren’t reflecting the views of Governor Romney or anyone inside the campaign.”
To be clear: No one in Romney's campaign is taking responsibility for the words or views, and all signs indicate that Romney absolutely disagrees with the sentiment being interpreted from these remarks.
Nevertheless, the Obama campaign, in a clear attempt to get everyone to notice the report from the British press, sent out a statement from its attack dog, Vice President Joe Biden. "Despite his promises that politics stops at the water’s edge, Governor Romney’s wheels hadn’t even touched down in London before his advisors were reportedly playing politics with international diplomacy, attempting to create daylight between the United States and the United Kingdom where none exists," Biden said in a statement. He added: "The comments reported this morning are a disturbing start to a trip designed to demonstrate Governor Romney’s readiness to represent the United States on the world’s stage. Not surprisingly, this is just another feeble attempt by the Romney campaign to score political points at the expense of this critical partnership. This assertion is beneath a presidential campaign."
But since when did the Obama team rely so heavily on the British press? And since when did the Obama team even trust the British press?
"If I wanted to read a writeup today of how Manchester United fared last night in the Champion’s League cup, I might open up a British newspaper," then White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. "If I was looking for something that bordered on truthful news, I’m not entirely sure it’d be in the first pack of clips I’d pick up."
Yet when the Obama campaign wants to push a narrative that it finds helpful, all of a sudden a blind quote in a British newspaper is enough to warrant a heavy attack.