For the local DC commuters, The Washington Post's free Express tabloid was loaded and aimed at Mitt Romney today. Over a huge "47%" above Romney in a picture, the cover read "Crushing Blow? Romney's remark dismissing the Americans who don't pay income taxes is just the latest misstep in his campaign." Which part of that doesn't sound scripted by the White House?
Inside, the headline was "A '47 Percent' Setback." Below that was an AP story by Ken Thomas and Jim Kuhnhenn with a loaded introduction: "His campaign at a crossroads, Mitt Romney said Tuesday the federal government should not 'take from some to give to the others' as he sought to deflect a wave of criticism over recent remarks dismissive of nearly half of all Americans."
Thomas and Kuhnhenn painted a picture of Romney's campaign being a parade of gaffes and poor campaigning, as "President Barack Obama's White House piled on" and Republicans backed away in disgust:
Privately, some Republicans were harshly critical of Romney's most recent comments and his overall campaign to date, saying he had frittered away opportunities. They also noted that with early voting already under way in some states, the time to recover was smaller than might appear...
Top Republicans in Congress volunteered no reaction to Romney's remarks — just as they generally refrained from commenting a week ago when he issued a statement that inaccurately accused the Obama administration of giving comfort to demonstrators after they breached the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
In the days since, Republicans have grumbled that Romney needed to sharpen his appeal to struggling middle class Americans by stating more clearly what he would do as president to help them.
As Tom Blumer has pointed out here, when President Obama uncorked remarks dismissive of most Americans, suggesting "You didn't build that" when they have success, AP's Steve Peoples was aggressively spinning on Obama's behalf:
Obama's intended point -- one he made again in Texas on Tuesday -- was that government plays a role in helping people and businesses succeed by building roads, hiring teachers and firefighters, and looking out for the public good. A consistent part of Obama's economic message is that individual initiative and hard work should be rewarded.... Romney is trying shift attention away from his business record and his tax returns.
The Thomas and Kuhnhenn report concluded in Express that claimed Romney "offered an unvarnished assessment of the chances for peace in the Middle East." It was one of the reports that relied on a Mother Jones clip that was not complete, as Politico's Dylan Byers explained.