The President of the United States finally deigned to take a few questions from the White House press corps this afternoon, making a surprise appearance in the briefing room. His primary goal seemed to be to jump on the large and growing condemnation bandwagon of Rep. Todd Akin, following the Senate candidate's indefensible comments on rape. (He should get in line; prominent conservatives are beginning to ask Akin to leave the race, and the NRSC is reportedly applying similar pressure). My two biggest take-aways from the presser:
(1) This quote: "In terms of the economy...[pause, audible sigh]." He then launched into a rambling answer, littered with straw men. That groan and hesitation will likely make its way into a television ad or two.
(2) Barack Obama is 100 percent comfortable with the tone, tenor and focus of his campaign. Pressed on its incessant attacks, Obama denied that the smears have even occurred ("Nobody accused Mr. Romney of being a felon!" -- rebuttals here and here), instructed reporters that only his words matter on this subject (subtext: my surrogates, allies and running mate shouldn't really reflect on me), and whined about the Romney campaign's (!) nastiness. In defending his formally-endorsed SuperPAC, he conjured up Democrats' go-to false equivalency between the group's outrageous 'cancer' ad and the Romney campaign's slightly exaggerated but broadly accurate welfare attacks. In shamelessly complaining that Romney is really the one relying on negative and false attacks, the president made this statement:
"You can't just make stuff up."
He also breezily denied that his re-election effort has gone "out of bounds" in assailing Mitt Romney. This from a man whose campaign has invoked cancer and slavery to attack the GOP ticket, not to mention the aforementioned felony and tax cheat allegations (which Obama now claims never happened). Lesson: There are no political boundaries in Chicago-style politics. Obama reiterated his calls for Romney to release his tax returns, and suggested that the country should see his medical records, too. He argued that presidential candidates' lives should be, ahem, "an open book." Does that book include composite characters? I'll leave you with a humble suggestion: Watch that clip again, then read this.
UPDATE - Here's the Romney campaign's rapid response video to Obama's 'felony' dodge, starring...guess who?
UPDATE II - Here's another fun stroll down Obama's memory lane, this time on outside groups: