Obama `Muted:’ Romney Asks How `Speakerphone’ President Can Lead

The subtext of this ad is all about changing Washington.

President Barack Obama says it can only be changed from the outside, with the support of the people. Republican Mitt Romney says he will change it from within. House Speaker John Boehner has said, of course it can be changed on the inside — “it’s called leadership.”

And that’s what Romney is challenging in a black-and-white, 30-second spot contending that Obama cannot change things even within his own party. It draws a tale from Bob Woodward’s new book, The Price of Politics.

“”Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reporter who broke Watergate, recently wrote that during stimulus negotiations, President Obama called his Democratic leadership team — Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi,” the narrator says. “And as President Obama spoke, Nancy Pelosi hit the mute button. Went on with their meeting, ignoring the president. Not even listening to what he had to say. If he cannot lead his own party, how can he lead America?”

Pelosi, appearing at a Playbook Breakfast during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, said the reported muting of the president in her office “didn’t happen.” In response, Woodward told Politico “the Speakerphone episode,” as it was called inside the White House, was witnessed by an Obama administration in Pelosi’s office at the time.

Obama, appearing at a Univision-sponsored forum last week, was asked about his greatest failure in office — he said it had been the inability to win comprehensive immigration reform.

He also said:

“The fact that we haven’t been able to change the tone in Washington is disappointing.I think that I’ve learned some lessons over the last four years, and the most important lesson I’ve learned is, you can’t change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside.”

Romney’s response, at a rally last week:  “I can change Washington. I will change Washington. We’ll get the job done from the inside. Republicans and Democrats will come together.”

Boehner, at his weekly news conference added this footnote to the debate:

“President Obama’s excuse is, well, you can’t change Washington from the inside. Well, you actually can change Washington from the inside — it takes courage, it takes determination and it takes sincerity… And it’s called leadership.”

In a year of largely negative, attack ads from both sides, credit this ad for talking about something that actually matters, a question that many voters will be asking themselves on Nov. 6: Whether Obama or Romney possesses the better ability to lead a nation.

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