With only 20 days to go before Election Day, emotions inside the campaign pressure cooker are reaching atmospheric highs. Democrats were relieved that President Obama showed some fighting spirit during the second debate by calling Mitt Romney out on some of his obfuscations and policy flip-fops. But the GOP candidate hit back just as hard in a debate filled with bitter interruptions, heated barbs and finger pointing that encroached on each other’s personal space.
Enter Tagg Romney, the GOP candidate’s eldest son. Wednesday morning on the “Bill LuMaye Show,” a North Carolina radio program, Tagg said he wanted to “take a swing” at the president. Here’s the comment in context:
BILL LUMAYE: I’m going to ask something I think a lot of people want to know, or at least I do. What is it like for you to hear the president of the United States call your dad a liar. How do you react to that?
TAGG ROMNEY: Jump out of your seat and you want to rush down to the debate stage and take a swing at him. But you know you can’t do that because … well, first there is a lot of Secret Service between you and him, but also because this is the nature of the process.
You can listen to the entire interview here:
According to U.S. Code Title 18, Section 87, it’s a felony to threaten the president with bodily harm. No word on any pending investigations by the Secret Service.
Perhaps sensing he had overstepped the bounds of political decorum, Tagg quickly backpedaled on the “swing” comment. Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul reiterated Thursday morning that the eldest Romney was “joking” when he made the comments, noting that the Romney family’s emotions are running high in the campaign’s final days.
Holding the office of the president of the United States requires skin — and fleet feet! — to survive amid the barrage of tweets and arrows. Officeholders of all political stripes have weathered ad hominem tirades since politics became theater. But decorum among President Obama’s opposition has broken down before — remember Congressman Joe ‘you lie!’ Wilson? — and this latest breach of the physical attack redline should raise eyebrows when one considers modern politics’ passivity toward violence.
Mentioning gun control in the United States is becoming the political third rail Social Security once was. Faced with a direct gun control question in the second debate, neither Obama nor Romney managed more than vague platitudes toward community education and two-parent homes as solutions to spiraling gun violence in America. Politicians on both sides of the aisle, but particularly on the conservative side, stress their NRA bona fides and gun collections. Bandying about casual violence in politics recalls the “crosshairs” imagery Governor Sarah Palin’s SarahPAC used in 2010 until criticism mounted following the January 2011 Arizona shooting rampage that killed six and injured 13, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Jared Loughner was severely disturbed and Tagg Romney was just being flippant. But the embrace of violence in our political discourse coarsens the partisans and captivates the fanatics.
Tagg Romney said he was angry that President Obama insinuated his father was lying during some of the second presidential debate. But the Romney camp has lobbed many half-truths and distortions of their own, particularly when it comes to accusations of improperly mixing business and politics. Mitt Romney and the GOP love to say that President Obama’s energy policy amounts to crony capitalism, favoring those who helped him get into office.
But tonight on “The War Room,” we’ll delve into the Romney campaign’s ultimate hypocrisy, revealing how Romney helped his son and a former fundraiser establish a private equity firm, and much more, with The Nation’s investigative reporter, Lee Fang. Tune in at 10E/7P to get the full discussion with Fang and guest host Michael Shure.