Declaring that she was not a "witch" did not work for failed Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, but a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday advised presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that his new slogan should be "I am not a bully."
Former Cheney counselor Mary Matalin told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that an incident where Romney was accused of assaulting a gay man in high school "didn't happen" -- even though the candidate does not dispute events depicted in a Washington Post report last week.
Matalin recommend that Romney defend himself with the following campaign ad: "I'm Mitt Romney. I'm running for president of these United States. I am not a bully. That's a politically motivated tactic to distract you and dismiss me. I'm not going to let that happen. I'm going to cross this country talking about my economic plan to get you working again and get the government working for you. I'm Mitt Romney and I approve this message."
The message is similar to an ad that tea party favorite Republican Christine O'Donnell created during her 2010 bid to become a senator from Deleware.
After HBO comedian Bill Maher released a 1990s video clip of O'Donnell admitting she "dabbled into witchcraft," her campaign responded with a high-mocked commercial where she declared, "I am not a witch."
On Sunday, former Christian Coalition Chairman Ralph Reed insisted that The Washington Post's story on Romney's prep school years proved how "desperate they are to tear this guy down."
"What ever you think of him politically, turning around Bain consulting, building Bain Capital -- one of the most respected private equity organizations in the nation -- turning around the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, outstanding job as governor of Massachusetts -- this is the kind of man that you want your daughter to marry, this is the kind of guy that you would want to be a business partner with."
"Here's my concern," Reed continued. "If this is what we're going to do to candidates, George, who's going to want to serve? Who's going to want to put their name on the ballot if they know people are going to be dumpster diving in your high school or prep school."
"I don't think that there's anything new with looking at candidates," Politico's Maggie Haberman pointed out. "I think there has been a complaint among Republicans privately -- Democrats talk about it more openly -- that Mitt Romney has not done much in terms of his own biography and defining himself. He's done it in bits and pieces. He does have a story to tell and if you're not telling it, someone else fills it in."
Current TV host Elliot Spitzer argued that the story of Romney bullying a gay classmate was not relevant because "no one thinks he's mean spirited or a bully."
"I don't think he's a nasty guy," Spitzer opined. "I like him. I don't mind saying that. I think he's a good, decent person with whom I disagree. He's not a bully, therefore this story is out of context."