The Democratic National Committee hit Mitt Romney pretty hard yesterday, launching the “Mitt v. Mitt” campaign and airing a new ad highlighting the Republican candidate’s shameless flip-flopping. Romney’s team offered a furious response, issuing a seemingly-endless stream of press releases, and hosting literally a dozen conference calls with reporters.

Most of the pushback avoided the substance of the DNC’s allegations. In fact, the Romney campaign spent most of the day accusing Democrats of trying to “tear down” the former governor, which I suppose is sort of true, but not exactly a compelling explanation for Romney’s allergy to principles.

Eventually, though, Romney’s team said the candidate’s positions were more nuanced than the DNC ad leads voters to believe.

“That was a blatant misuse of quote,” Romney Communications Director Gail Gitcho said in a conference call featuring New Hampshire supporters of Romney. “Democrats were blatantly taking that quote out of context.”

Oh, really. Is that so. The Romney campaign has discovered that it’s worried about proper use of context in a campaign ad.

It’s as dramatic a failure of self-awareness as anything we’ve seen in a long while. After all, the Romney campaign, in the most shamelessly dishonest ad of the year to date, aired a spot last week that deliberately wrenched an Obama quote from context — and then didn’t care after the campaign got caught deceiving the public.

And now Romney’s team wants to complain about context? Seriously?

Not only is the response breathtaking on its face, but the pushback isn’t even persuasive. Romney may have tried to fudge some of his earlier positions and leave himself some wiggle room, but there’s nothing dishonest about the DNC’s spot — Romney really has taken both sides of the abortion and health care debates, among many other issues.

In the meantime, the DNC released another video overnight, noting the reactions from the media and from New Hampshire voters to Romney’s attempts to deceive the public in his first ad of the campaign.

YouTube video

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.