comScore Joe Klein On Morning Joe: Obama Bain Attacks Echo Lee Atwater’s Willie Horton Smear Campaign | Mediaite
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Joe Klein On Morning Joe: Obama Bain Attacks Echo Lee Atwater’s Willie Horton Smear Campaign

The Morning Joe panel had a (series of) spirited debates Monday morning over a couple of new terms we might be seeing more of as the election continues: Political “paint jobs” and “SwiftBaining.” Two new squares to add to your bingo cards, right beside “War on…” and “DogGate.”

Is any of this focus on Bain, host Joe Scarborough wondered, having an actual impact on voters? Time political columnist Joe Klein explained that all this talk about Bain is actually part of a larger “paint job” on Romney, which has a historical precedent in, say, George H.W. Bush‘s campaign against Michael Dukakis and George W. Bush‘s campaign against John Kerry. He recalled GOP adviser Lee Atwater gleefully sharing that Republicans “got” Dukakis on not enforcing the Pledge of Allegiance in classrooms — on it’s own, not the most important issue to keep in mind when voting, but it was part of a larger narrative and something that was likely to stick in voters’ heads, along with the now-infamous attack ad featuring convicted felon Willie Horton, which was instrumental in painting Democrats as being soft on crime. In this case, he continued, the Obama campaign is using Bain as the tip of an iceberg labeled something like “detrimental form of capitalism.”

“Mika, before you do that…” Scarborough then said as his co-host attempted to segue to a related issue. “Let us just record, though — and I know Dan Senor has recorded this as a good Republican — that Joe Klein has just compared the Obama campaign to Lee Atwater’s Willie Horton smear campaign.”

“And he’s used to term ‘swiftboating,'” Senor added.

“This is ‘swiftBaining,” Klein replied.

Later, panelist Sam Stein weighed in, noting that, while the Willie Horton incident included racial components, the crux of the attack is the same as that on Bain: taking a candidate’s perceived strength and turning it into a weakness.

CNBC’s Brian Sullivan opined that the “dirty word” in all this talk is “rich.” Klein took exception, explaining that Romney isn’t just a rich guy, he’s a “rich guy who doesn’t pay taxes.” Sullivan disagreed, asking Klein whether he’d pay more taxes than he’s asked to.

Have a look, courtesy of MSNBC:

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