Mitt Romney speaks at the Nationwide Insurance building in Des Moines. (Mark Kegans / Getty Images )
Reporting from Des Moines and Washington — Mitt Romney on Wednesday defended his new campaign ad that takes President Obama's words out of context, saying there was "no hidden effort" to mislead voters.
The Romney campaign ad, which began airing in New Hampshire on Tuesday, uses footage from an Obama campaign event in Londonderry, N.H., in the final weeks of the 2008 race, when the Illinois senator and Democratic nominee was making his case to voters on the economy.
At issue is this soundbite that the Romney campaign used from Obama: "If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose."
In fact, Obama that day was quoting an unnamed campaign advisor for Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee. The full quote: "Sen. McCain's campaign actually said, and I quote, if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose."
Romney's campaign did provide the full context of the quote in a release announcing the new ad Monday night, he pointed out Wednesday. But for the viewers watching, there is no such disclaimer.
Still, Romney defended the spot.
"It was instead to point out what's sauce for the goose is now sauce for the gander," Romney told reporters. "He spoke about the economy being a huge burden for John McCain. This ad points out, guess what, it’s now your turn. The same lines you used on John McCain are now going to be used on you, which is that this economy is going to be your albatross."
The Obama campaign called Romney's ad "deceitful and dishonest." Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse said: "Mitt Romney is a serial deceiver – and his deceptions know no bounds." The committee released this video rounding up some of the critical reaction to Romney's ad.
"There's no question, the president's campaign and the DNC, we obviously got under their skin because the last thing they want to be doing is talking about the economy and the president’s failure to get this economy turned around," Romney said.
Romney also took on Newt Gingrich for his comments on illegal immigration at Tuesday's debate. He said what Gingrich was describing amounted to "a new doorway for amnesty" and he noted that Gingrich voted for amnesty in the past.
"We make a mistake as a Republican Party to try and describe which people who come here illegally should be given amnesty to be able to jump ahead of line of the people who have been waiting in line," he said. "It’s the wrong course for a Republican debate. We should be talking about enforcing the laws and making sure those who come here legally and apply legally are at the front of the line."
Romney was joined at the event in Des Moines by the newest Republican to endorse his campaign, South Dakota Sen. John Thune.