One thing I’ve found remarkable about Mitt Romney throughout the campaign is his habit of telling small, easily provable lies. Almost all politicians tell the big lies, the type of vague promises that they will probably not be able to deliver on, but Romney often tells the lies which can easily be proven false.
He has done this repeatedly when talking about subjects ranging from the individual mandate to gun laws, but last night it finally caught up to him in a big way. Romney accused Obama of not calling the attack on our consulate in Libya an “act of terror” when in fact Obama did use the exact phrase the day after the attack. In front of a massive TV audience the debate moderator Candy Crowley pointed out that the entire basis for Romney answer to the question was simply not true.
This was not some surprise question that Romney merely misspoke about because he didn’t have all the details. The Romney campaign had been pushing this subject and should have fully expected a question about it. Romney prepared an answer to this question that he should have know was a complete lie.
One single moment in a debate will not move a whole election, but it can help feed a narrative that has been building for awhile. Obama is already viewed as significantly more honest and trustworthy than Romney. A Washington Post/ABC News poll already found slightly more voters think Romney is not honest than those who think he is. Having the moderator of a national debate public point out that Romney’s attack line is provably false can play a big role in reinforce an image of dishonesty.
If people don’t think they can trust a candidate on the little stuff, they are going to have a hard time trusting them on the big stuff. From his tax plan to his job promises, Romney is asking for a lot of trust from the Americans people because he is providing almost no details.