Mitt Romney prepares for negative attacks

How should the candidate respond to personal attacks? Krauthammer weighs in.


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 17, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: "Back of the Book" segment tonight, there is no question the presidential campaign will be largely negative, and Mitt Romney will be attacked pretty much 24/7.


KAREN FINNEY, FORMER DNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: The picture that he was painting of an America, you know, restoring an America. I kept thinking it sounds like you want to go back to a time when women couldn't vote, blacks couldn't vote. We didn't have -- I mean, it just didn't sound like this was the America that we all know.


O'REILLY: Yes, of course. Governor Romney doesn't want blacks and women to vote. Of course, that's part of his platform.

Joining us now from Washington, FOX News political analyst Charles Krauthammer.

So, has it reached critical mass in April? I mean, are we there already where this is so insane that people are just going to laugh about it?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, who knows if they'll laugh about it? Negative campaigns can work. And we're getting a taste of it right now.

I think Romney's strategy should be to embrace that negativity. Just go for it and point out -- go back to it and point out how it's a sign of scurrilousness and hypocrisy. Look at the mean that Democrats have put out from top to bottom.

Republicans, Romney, the war on women, the concocted idea. War on immigrants. We heard from that. War on blacks. And it's also class warfare. The war on the middle class, you know, comforting the rich and making sure they don't pay their fair share.

The hypocrisy here, of course, is that Barack Obama shot to the international consciousness by giving a speech in which he said he would unite red America and blue America. We're not black America, white America, we're the United States of America.

He's running -- the Democrats are running the most divisive campaign on race, on ethnicity, on class and on gender. I mean, it's going to be the dirtiest campaign you've ever seen.

O'REILLY: I think so.

KRAUTHAMMER: I would say -- I would say hide the children and check the plumbing, because you're going to have to shower several times a day.

O'REILLY: All right. But if you're Mitt Romney, how do you do that? Now, there's a few ways. You can do it the Factor way. And, you know, we did it last night with Bernie Goldberg.

You take the absurdity of what that woman said, and you say, "Look, that's right, I want to take votes away from women and blacks. How insane is this? And here's why they're saying it." You can do it directly, straight up. But that empowers the people who are making the scurrilous charges. And so you've got to watch it there.

Or you can have your surrogates do it. I mean, how do you think Romney should handle it?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, look, you could have surrogates or Romney do it. Surrogates, of course, are preferable if you were going negative. But if you're defending yourself, I think Romney can stand up and say, "Look at what they're throwing at me. Do you really think I don't want women to vote? I don't want African-Americans to vote?"

And what you then -- you segue immediately to why would a president, running after a term, say all these things? Why would a party say all these things, imply all these things? Because they have nothing to run on.

O'REILLY: That's a good point.

KRAUTHAMMER: Obama care he won't even mention. Stimulus, the word doesn't exist.

O'REILLY: "Can't afford -- can't defend their record, so they have to make up stuff about me." And I think that's probably the way the Romney campaign will go.

But they open themselves up for hypocrisy charges, too. The Romney people do. Because of the way they went negative against Santorum and Gingrich in the primary, which they did. They went -- particularly in Florida, they just, you know, boom, boom, boom, boom. So Romney is going to be a little hard to take the high ground, is it not?

KRAUTHAMMER: No, I don't think so. I think there are two kinds of negative campaigning. There's ad hominem, where you accuse of somebody hating women, warring on Americans. Not wanting African-Americans to show up at the polls. You know, favoring being against the middle class which are absurdities.

And then there's campaigning on facts and on the record. A lot of the negative campaigning against Gingrich was based on things he actually said and did.

And I think there is enough on Obama. The things he promised and the things he hasn't done. The things he said that aren't true. The pie in the sky, the dreams about cars running on algae. His claims that, you know, oil drilling has increased. His distortions of the facts, I think other things you can go after. You can point out, then, the facts. Unemployment. The worst of the longest height over 8 percent unemployment since the Second World War. Slowest recovery since the Second World War. You've got all of these facts you can pile on.

If you can do that and stay with that, I think you've got a winning formula, even if Romney is the one who says it rather than a surrogate.

O'REILLY: Right. I think that the governor is going to have to define the tone of his campaign. He's going to have to do it fairly quickly. And it will be interesting to see. Because he's not a confrontational guy. Romney is not confrontational, and neither is Obama. Both of them are not confrontational. So they'd rather have their PACs do it, and that's what's happening now. The surrogates.

Charles, I've got to run. Thanks as always. We appreciate it.

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