From The Guardian's Richard Adams:

An off-hand and off-colour remark by Barack Obama may have signalled a decision by his campaign to go nuclear on Mitt Romney's shifting ideological track record.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, conducted by celebrated presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, Obama labelled Romney a "bullshitter" – and rather than backing away from the comment, a senior Obama campaign adviser said it raised "trust" issues with Romney's candidacy.

Brinkley's interview recorded a conversation between Obama and Eric Bates, the executive editor of Rolling Stone. Bates told Obama that his six-year-old daughter had a message for the president: "Tell him: you can do it." Obama replied with a grin:

You know, kids have good instincts. They look at the other guy and say, 'Well, that's a bullshitter, I can tell'.

Asked to explain Obama's remark, spokesman Dan Pfeiffer told reporters that he hadn't seen the article, but went on to say: "Trust is a very important part of the election. The president is someone who says what he means and does what he says, and Governor Romney's answers in the debates on domestic issues and foreign policy raise real questions about that."

Pfeiffer warned people not to be "distracted by the word" bullshitter but to focus on the issues.


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Since the debates, Obama has called Romney's shift towards the political centre "Romnesia" for overlooking his past positions.

In an interview with CBS this morning, Brinkley said the term is a translation of what Obama was already saying on the campaign trail: "It's another part of Romnesia, I suppose. The working man's Romnesia is BS-er."

The Romney campaign said Obama's language was a sign of desperation. "President Obama is rattled and on the defensive. He's running on empty and has nothing left but attacks and insults. It's unfortunate he has to close the final days of the campaign this way," Romney campaign adviser Kevin Madden told CNN.

Elsewhere in the interview, Obama says he will be "proud" if historians use the term Obamacare to describe his healthcare reforms. "People will say, this was the last piece of our basic social compact – providing people with some core security from the financial burdens of an illness or bad luck," Obama says.

On Romney's unguarded private remarks that 47% of Americans regard themselves as victims and entitled to welfare support, Obama said he was surprised. "That sense that folks who have contributed to this country but are at the lower ends of the income scale are somehow looking for government to do something for them, or feel some sense of entitlement, is just fundamentally wrong," he said.

The interview will appear in print in the forthcoming 8 November edition of Rolling Stone and is online now.

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