Romney has given three speeches since his convention address, delivering remarks in Lakeland, Jacksonville, and Cincinnati. The combined total of references to welfare in those speeches? Zero.Why Romney has given up the welfare attack, and for how long, is the big question. Was the campaign finally overcome by a sense of decency? Seems highly unlikely. Did all the fact-checking organizations and traditional journalists who reported on the attacks and called them out as lies finally convince the campaign that the media wasn't going to let them get away with it? Again, hard to believe since, as of last Tuesday, the campaign said it was going to stick with the lie because it worked, and that "we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers."
Also, I spoke this morning with a Democratic source who confirmed that the Romney campaign's television ad featuring the welfare lie is not currently on the air.
So, over the course of about a week, this one transparent falsehood went from being the most potent attack in the Republican arsenal to a lie Romney and his team suddenly didn't want to repeat.
The most likely answer was noted by our own Greg Dworkin last Thursday: National Journal's Ron Fournier, a highly respected inside-the-beltway reporter and narrative setter laid it out: Romney is cynically playing the race card. When a charge like that comes from someone like Fournier, the rest of the establishment starts paying attention. That could have been damaging enough to Romney to have finally scared the campaign off.
Whatever the reason, the welfare attack has disappeared, for now. But don't be surprised if it comes back. Romney and Ryan have already proven that there's nothing they won't say, no level to which they will not sink, to win.