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Friday, October 5, 2012

Did Mitt Romney Cheat During the Debate?

Posted by on Fri, Oct 5, 2012 at 6:14 AM

Let me state right up front that I don't think this news changes anything about the presidential debate we saw two days ago. President Obama did terribly at the debate because he did terribly at the debate. Romney did not outsmart, outwit, or out-debate President Obama. But it would say something about Mitt Romney if this little conspiracy theory were true. A poster named cleduc at Democratic Underground claims that Mitt Romney surreptitiously reached into his pocket and produced a cheat sheet at the beginning of the debate on Wednesday. Other DU users say they can clearly see Romney pick up the cheat sheet at the very end of the debate. Here's a series of photos of Romney producing the white square that some are calling a handkerchief but that many DU users swear is a cheat sheet.

Thing is, I can't seem to find anything saying Romney couldn't bring out notes at the debate. Folks have found a "memorandum of understanding" from the 2004 debates (PDF) announcing that "no props, notes, charts, diagrams, or other writings or other tangible things may be brought into the debates by any candidate." But a 2012 memorandum of understanding has yet to materialize.

And again, none of this really matters. People always seem to spend a lot of time trying to prove the other side cheated after these debates. (Remember W's weird bulge during that first debate with Kerry?) Even if Romney did have a cheat sheet, that certainly wouldn't account for President Obama's poor showing. We can't wish that first debate away, the way Republicans try to shake off the idea of bad polls by saying that the numbers are skewed. But it sure would be interesting to see Romney's response if a reporter managed to ask him a question about this whole cheat sheet thing.


Comments (38) RSS

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bleedingheartlibertarian 1
For fuck's sake, it is a presidential debate, not an oral exam.
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on October 5, 2012 at 6:24 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 2
How is this possibly worse than just lying the whole time, which everyone, even his own campaign knows/admits Romney did?

This is why these are not really even debates. They are just long introductions/ads. No one needs to tell the truth, produce any evidence, or even use specifics.

Especially when there is no moderator, just some old guy who apparently wandered onto the set and sat down in the wrong chair.

Posted by Theodore Gorath on October 5, 2012 at 6:28 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 3
When you're lying for The Lord (google it), it's all good.

Honestly, the idea that he won the debate - or that it was even a debate - just amazes me. That thing was a Wade Cook Seminar on Mushrooms. I've seen better presentations at time share workshops (and at least at those, they give you free liquor).

Plus, it was almost all lies. Romney is a worse sociopath than Bush. It's a testament to the intelligence of the American people that they think a guy who wouldn't last a week at a Ford dealership "won" whatever that thing on TV was.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on October 5, 2012 at 6:34 AM · Report this
Unless notes are against the rules (and they probably should be) then this is a non-issue. I like that it got out into the public sphere but I think we shouldn't bother with it. There are plenty of good reasons to vote against Romney without making non-issues a big deal.
Posted by Root on October 5, 2012 at 6:34 AM · Report this
Having notes could have contributed to Romney appearing more confident, but that doesn't erase the more passive perception of Pres. Obama in the debate. As Root said, it's good to have it out there so people are aware, but nothing comes of pushing it.
Posted by MemeGene on October 5, 2012 at 6:54 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 6
This won't amount to the box under Bush's jacket, which itself didn't amount to anything.
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 5, 2012 at 7:05 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 7
This is a pathetic reach. And it sounds like loser talk. Yeah I seen it but my question is why didn't Obama cheat. I mean he was going up against a living piece of shit who will do anything immoral to win.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on October 5, 2012 at 7:06 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 8
the toss onto the podium was so smooth it was practiced. could have been a handkerchief, could have been notes. more important is his debate tactic, the Gish Gallop:
Posted by Max Solomon on October 5, 2012 at 7:10 AM · Report this
So he needed cliff notes to remember his lies? Pathetic, regardless.
Posted by StuckInUtah on October 5, 2012 at 7:12 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 10
I liked when he blotted his brow with the hanky. Very dainty.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on October 5, 2012 at 7:14 AM · Report this
Skye Blu 11
It's not as bad as Dubya's box under the jacket so his hive-masters could pour instructions into his empty little head, but it is still bullshit. I have an idea- make the candidates debate in their underwear! No hiding anything! Show us what you really got!
Posted by Skye Blu on October 5, 2012 at 7:24 AM · Report this
ArtBasketSara 12
Wait...where's the regular guy? Rob? You here? Gosh, I wish I knew what he thought of all this...
Posted by ArtBasketSara on October 5, 2012 at 7:33 AM · Report this
close italics test
Posted by David from Chicago on October 5, 2012 at 7:40 AM · Report this
trying again. test
Posted by David from Chicago on October 5, 2012 at 7:41 AM · Report this
I suck at html.
Posted by David from Chicago on October 5, 2012 at 7:42 AM · Report this
venomlash 16
Posted by venomlash on October 5, 2012 at 7:47 AM · Report this
This is the best propaganda/libel the Stranger can come up with? Sad, even by their low standards.
Posted by Stranger'sWorstNightmare on October 5, 2012 at 7:49 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 18

Can we ban everyone on here who says "loose" instead of "lose," and anyone who does not close their italics tags? Yo momma does not live here to clean up your sloppy tagging.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on October 5, 2012 at 7:54 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 19
But of course Venomlash is there to beat me to the italics exorcism.

Posted by Theodore Gorath on October 5, 2012 at 7:55 AM · Report this
I'm the one who put the stills together, as mentioned above.

Wow, lots of logical fail going on here.

First, one does not have to believe President Obama did well--and be in denial, because clearly he did terribly on Wednesday--in order to believe, based on rather clear evidence, that Mitt Romney cheated. The two are mutually exclusive.

Second, it's rather cowardly to say "I'm glad this is out there" and then say "nothing comes of pushing it". That's akin to saying, "Good thing someone other than me is willing to risk being called a silly conspiracy theorist by her intellectual betters, because the assh*le IS a cheat, and people need to know this, but God forbid our side look bad."

Finally, it's not "a pathetic reach" or "loser talk" to hold either candidate to basic debate rules--or, for that matter, to care that one the two men running for the country's highest office is possessed of such profoundly compromised ethics--if indeed he is not a full-on sociopath and thus bereft of all ethics in the first place--that he can't even hue to the standards imposed on freaking high school teams.

Either have basic rules, with allotted time and a moderator who actually moderates (and steps in when one of the candidates speaks out of turn, etc.), or don't bother calling it a debate at all--hard to see how they could do that anyway.
Posted by litbrit on October 5, 2012 at 7:57 AM · Report this
care bear 21
Maybe it was an embroidered handkerchief that said DAD.
Posted by care bear on October 5, 2012 at 7:57 AM · Report this
Posted by Tdd on October 5, 2012 at 7:58 AM · Report this
I think it was a handkerchief that had a cheat sheet inside it. He very clearly is fumbling with whatever he took out of his pocket and then is very clearly putting something back in his pocket. My guess is the handkerchief was a cover. He pulls that out, perfectly legitimate. Gets out what is inside it and then puts the handkerchief away, since it isn't on the podium later.
Posted by anonymous1234 on October 5, 2012 at 8:00 AM · Report this
Did Mr. Romney cheat? Hell, yeah he did. He cheated by making false statements. He cheated (as did the President from time to time) by violating the instructions of the moderator. Did he cheat by having a crib sheet? Maybe. But at this point, so what?

I think the attitude of the American People towards cheating in these rituals is a lot like their attitude about cheating in baseball. It ain't cheating if you don't get caught.
Posted by Charlie Mas on October 5, 2012 at 8:09 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 25
@ 21 FTW.
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 5, 2012 at 8:12 AM · Report this
Yurp. Who gives a shit if there were rules?

There are no rules.
Posted by fetish on October 5, 2012 at 8:14 AM · Report this
In addition to the scene at the beginning, there's evidence of the cheat-sheet(s) at the end of the debate. The families are on the stage, and Romney nips back to the podium to retrieve the notecards/cheat-sheet. He folds a larger piece of paper over it, then walks back to group (POTUS, Mrs. Obama, Mrs. Romney, various Romney sons). He then tries to stash it in a breast pocket--right, then left--but it won't fit, so he quickly hands the packet off to his son, who stuffs it in his jacket while staring straight ahead. Ann Romney says "We need to get off this stage".

If you want to see this C-Span segment (just the closing minute or two of the debate), I have it posted at my blog along with the other evidence comprising my "pathetic reach", ha! Can't put the live link here, but it's litbrit dot blogspot dot com should you care to stop by. Cheers, D.
Posted by litbrit on October 5, 2012 at 8:15 AM · Report this
I keep seeing references crop up to DU in the slog. Stop going there. Shit will rot your brain.
Posted by GermanSausage on October 5, 2012 at 8:17 AM · Report this
Sir Vic 29
I'm think along @21 lines. How much could he really have on there to be of use? He's a smart enough guy to remember key numbers, but he's also old enough to not be able to quickly read fine print after staring out at an audience. That's a younger man's con.

It's more likely some temple garment hanky thingy, or a pic of the family.
Posted by Sir Vic on October 5, 2012 at 8:33 AM · Report this
He lied like a hooker at confession and we're going after him on this?
Posted by longball on October 5, 2012 at 8:37 AM · Report this
Sir Vic 31
@29 Retracted. Just watched the relevant clips and stills, and that's a small notepad that he tossed onto the podium, had there during the debate, and then retrieved at the end. He needed to practice his legerdemain skills, not zingers.
Posted by Sir Vic on October 5, 2012 at 8:47 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 32
yep. in slow mo you can see it was paper not cloth. it bounced.

as a punishment, he must do the next debate facing a corner.
Posted by Max Solomon on October 5, 2012 at 8:50 AM · Report this
reverend dr dj riz 33
my momma says if you'll lie , you'll eventually steal and if you'll steal, then you'll eventually kill.
that's what my momma says..
Posted by reverend dr dj riz on October 5, 2012 at 8:58 AM · Report this
@27 The same son he accused of being a habitual liar? I wonder where the kids learned that.
"Look, I’ve got five boys. I’m used to people saying something that’s not always true, but just keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping I’ll believe it."
Posted by LftL on October 5, 2012 at 9:15 AM · Report this
Listen, you f'n moron (Paulie the Inconstant), it wasn't a debate: a scripted show, where both parties accept the questions and vet them beforehand, and select their moderator -- not an independent moderatory -- ain't no frigging debate, sonny douchetard!

Can you speak English, dood?
Posted by sgt_doom on October 5, 2012 at 10:40 AM · Report this
Did every one forget that the day before the debate Ann Romney mentioned Mitt keeping a card with "Dad" written on it on the podium as a sort of good luck charm?
Posted by Ryuthrowsstuff on October 5, 2012 at 11:41 AM · Report this
ArtBasketSara 37
@18 Ohhhhh! So that's what happened...I've spent the morning concerned about this. How? Why did my words appear in italics?! Did I cause this? Do I have strange new powers that I can't control? Will I suddenly cause an outbreak of "bold" and "underlined"...will everything appear as a link?

Posted by ArtBasketSara on October 5, 2012 at 11:51 AM · Report this
@litbrit - you say "cowardly," I say "picking my battles." Better? (See how I mentioned your name too since I'm responding to what you said?)

1) Lack of Evidence: unless we can get better video proof of what this was, all we have is speculation. And I'd rather that Obama supporters not jump onto our own flavor of "birtherism."

2) Lack of Enforcement: was there actually a rules violation? It doesn't seem that there was a rule against bringing notes in. Unless there was, then even if we proved that the fuzzy white thing was notes and not a good luck charm or snotrag, it doesn't matter since we can't leverage any penalty on him. Look at all the other crazy shit the Romney campaign volunteers (see: Safeway & crazy FL caller) and affiliates (see: registration firm in FL) are doing and not being prosecuted for. If those don't get enforced, how would this produce anything even if there were a rule against it? (link turn)

3) Most people don't care. As a former debate coach, I know that my debaters would care since we have event rules where notes are and aren't allowed. And some policy/political wonks will care because it possibly inflated his performance (by letting him have a security blanket and focus on style rather than substance). But that had nothing to do with how Obama performed. And given that we have epidemics of students cheating at top-tier universities, most aren't going to even blink at hearing that a politician snuck in notes. Add to this the general cynicism (rightly so) about the non-debateishness of these debates, and that's a whole lot of apathy. (impact turn)

4) They didn't make THE difference. If a glass of water had spilled all over his (hypothetical) notes, making them illegible, it wouldn't have changed the outcome of the debate. The notes had nothing to do with the perception of Obama as passive. I happen to have read Obama and Romney differently from the dominant narrative - Romney looked creepy and Mad-Men-ish while Obama seemed to be doing his best to avoid "Angry Black Man" projections (and he was still called "angry" looking). Considering that Romney's half-smile/smirk was delivered while he was looking up (and not down at the notes), that was independent of whether notes were there or not. (link turn)

Thus, my brevity, which you mistook for "cowardice," was actually laziness. I didn't want to have to type all this out, but with Besmirched Honour, it seemed necessary to clarify. Have a nice day.
Posted by MemeGene on October 5, 2012 at 12:53 PM · Report this

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