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Cornyn’s ‘False’ Rhetoric

Sen. John Cornyn alleged President Obama has told the families of Newtown shooting victims that the Republican party “doesn’t really care about their loss.” But Obama never actually said that.

Cornyn’s misrepresentation of Obama’s comments came during a speech on the Senate floor on April 11, just before the Texas Republican voted against allowing debate to begin on the Democrats’ gun legislation sponsored by Sen. Harry Reid. (You can watch a video of Cornyn’s speech here.)

Cornyn, April 11: The President has told some of these victims’ families that this side of the aisle doesn’t really care about their loss. That’s not true. That’s false. The President is wrong.

All of us care about these families, and all of us should care about violence in our communities, and we should try to work together to find ways to address this – not in a symbolic sort of way, but in a real way that offers a solution.

Cornyn’s accusations about allegedly over-the-top rhetoric from Obama — and tough denunciation of it — were highlighted during several cable TV news programs, including MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show (starting at the 4:38 mark) and CNN.

We asked Cornyn’s press office when Obama made these comments, and we were referred to this section of a speech by the president in Hartford, Conn.:

Obama, April 8: And yet, some folks back in Washington are already floating the idea that they may use political stunts to prevent votes on any of these reforms. Think about that. They’re not just saying they’ll vote “no” on ideas that almost all Americans support. They’re saying they’ll do everything they can to even prevent any votes on these provisions. They’re saying your opinion doesn’t matter. And that’s not right.

Obama was referring to Senate Republican threats of a filibuster on gun control measures being proposed by some Democrats. Obama’s criticism of those filibuster threats, however, is well short of telling the families of Newtown shooting victims that Republicans don’t “really care about their loss.”

This reminds us of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s frequent claims that Obama went on an “apology tour” — which we found to be bogus based on transcripts of Obama’s foreign speeches. Misconstruing opponents’ words is a bipartisan political pastime. For example, a liberal super PAC ran a radio ad with Romney saying, over and over, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” But Romney actually said, “I’m not concerned about the very poor; we have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it.”

Here, Cornyn is putting words in Obama’s mouth that he never said, and then calling them false.

— Robert Farley