Mitt Romney’s assertion about lobbyists and his presidential campaign was challenged by an Associated Press reporter Thursday. The blogosphere immediately lit up over the exchange.
Speaking at a business supply store in Columbia, S.C., Romney was telling reporters, “I don’t have lobbyists running my campaign. I don’t have lobbyists that are tied to my — ” when AP writer Glen Johnson interrupted.
“That’s not true,” Johnson said. “Ron Kaufman’s a lobbyist.” Kaufman, chairman of communications firm Dutko Worldwide, is a frequent presence in the Romney campaign.
“Did you hear what I said? Did you hear what I said, Glen?” Romney asked. “I said I don’t have lobbyists running my campaign, and he’s not running my campaign.”
“He’s one of your senior advisers,” Johnson said.
“He’s an adviser,” Romney replied, “and the person who runs my campaign is Beth Myers, and I have a whole staff of deputy campaign managers, and –”
Johnson interrupted again. “Ron Kaufman is just there as window dressing? He’s a potted plant on your plane?”
Romney called Kaufman a friend and unpaid adviser and repeated, “I do not have lobbyists running my campaign.”