Romney Campaign Adopts Risky “Take Off The Gloves” Strategy

The Romney campaign has apparently decided to be more aggressive in its attacks on the President, which poses serious risks for the campaign.

McKay Coppins at Buzzfeed reports that the Romney campaign has made a conscious decision to shift to a more aggressive “take the gloves off” strategy that involves direct attacks on the President on not just policy, but also character issues:

In speeches from Des Moines to Dallas, Romney has always been careful to hedge his tough digs at Obama with a civil nod toward the president’s moral character: “He’s a nice guy,” the Republican has often said. “He just has no idea how the private economy works.” But Tuesday’s speech included no such hedge — and one campaign adviser said there’s a reason for that.

“[Romney] has said Obama’s a nice fellow, he’s just in over his head,” the adviser said. “But I think the governor himself believes this latest round of attacks that have impugned his integrity and accused him of being a felon go so far beyond that pale that he’s really disappointed. He believes it’s time to vet the president. He really hasn’t been vetted; McCain didn’t do it.”

Indeed, facing what the candidate and his aides believe to be a series of surprisingly ruthless, unfounded, and unfair attacks from the Obama campaign on Romney’s finances and business record, the Republican’s campaign is now prepared to go eye for an eye in an intense, no-holds-barred act of political reprisal, said two Romney advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity. In the next chapter of Boston’s pushback — which began last week when they began labeling Obama a “liar” — very little will be off-limits, from the president’s youthful drug habit, to his ties to disgraced Chicago politicians.

“I mean, this is a guy who admitted to cocaine use, had a sweetheart deal with his house in Chicago, and was associated and worked with Rod Blagojevich to get Valerie Jarrett appointed to the Senate,” the adviser said. “The bottom line is there’ll be counterattacks.”

The reference to Obama’s past drug use seems to suggest that former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu wasn’t going off-script after all when he dinged the president for spending “his early years in Hawaii smoking something” during a Tuesday morning Fox News appearance.

Returning fire with personal attacks on Obama offers both emotional satisfaction to Romney and many Republicans, and an answer of sorts to relentless Democratic attacks on Romney’s time as an executive. It has so far failed, however, to quiet the growing, bipartisan chorus of voices demanding Romney release more of his personal tax returns. Obama campaign officials privately admit that the Republican has, at times, been effective in beating down attacks on his business record — but they’ve yet to see a way out on the tax issue.

Perhaps as a solution to that problem, Romney surrogates will place increased emphasis in coming days on the “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, hoping to drag the story back into the headlines, and highlight questions about the the Obama campaign’s transparency, the Romney adviser said.

Essentially then, the Romney campaign has apparently decided to engage in the kind of campaign that conservative activists have been begging for since pretty much the day Barack Obama took the Oath Of Office. Things like John Sunnunu calling the President “un-American,” or mentioning his past drug use aren’t shocking to them at all, because those are things they’ve been talking about for years. Indeed, one of the common complaints you’ll hear from this branch of the GOP about Romney is the fact that he was being too respectful to the President when he said things like he believed the President as a “nice man” and otherwise refused to engage in the kind of character assassination they so obviously desire. They had the same problem with John McCain, of course, especially when he went out of his way late in the 2008 campaign tocorrect a woman at a campaign rally who said to him that Obama was a Muslim who hated America. Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether or not this is a viable campaign strategy, the Romney campaign is essentially giving the right exactly what it wants, and the reactions of various conservative bloggers demonstrates that clearly.

Michelle Malkin, for example, gave the news a quite literal “Hallelujah,” Bryan Preston is happy that the President is going to be vetted, something conservatives claim never happened in 2008, and Rush Limbaugh said that the Romney campaign was finally taking his advice on how to deal with Obama. Of all the conservative reactions to this that I’ve seen, only Ed Morrissey notes that there is no small degree of danger in a strategy like this:

That may or may not be a great idea for the campaign – -depending on execution.  Sticking to an economic argument would focus on what voters care most about rather than fight on less-clear grounds about which is the better man morally for the job.  However, it has become clear that Obama won’t talk about the economy and will launch a character fight as a distraction.  This means Romney needs to find a way to turn that fight into something relevant to the economy — which Romney has started to do with his sharp attacks on Obama’s crony capitalism within the stimulus program as a way to argue that Obama is hopelessly corrupt.

My guess is that this will at least rally the base for Romney, where complaints over his lack of response to Obama’s attacks on his character have crescendoed recently.

Well, fine, it will certainly rally the base but I remain convinced that the base of the Republican Party is not going to have any trouble getting out and supporting Mitt Romney this fall. Not so much because they love Romney so much, but because they hate Barack Obama even more. As said more than once during the primary campaign when pundits were making claims that Romney was failing to excite conservatives, the idea that these people will pass up the opportunity to defeat Obama is simply laughable. I don’t care what the polls say right now, Romney has the base in his corner from now until Election Day, they aren’t the ones he needs to worry about.

The question for Romney and his advisers is how this new strategy is going to help them attract the votes of independent and swing voters, especially in the swing states. Are they really looking for a candidate whose surrogates are going to talk about Obama’s past, or Fast & Furious? Or, are they looking for a candidate who is going to talk about the state of the economy and what he thinks should be done to make things better? I don’t think you even need to take polls to answer those questions. The economy is the important issue here, not the absurd “vetting” of the President meme that has been floating around the conservative blogosphere ever since Andrew Breitbart died. The more the Romney campaign is talking about something other than the economy, the less they are speaking to the voters they actually need to persuade to come to their side between now and November 6th.

An additional factor that brings some danger to this new strategy is that negative attacks like this could very well backfire on the campaign. As I’ve mentioned before, despite the state of the economy and an approval number on the economy that remains pretty bad, the American public still tends to like Barack Obama as a person. What are the odds that taking this kind of hard turn toward the rhetoric of the hard right are actually going to change people’s minds on that issue? Fairly low, I would suggest, and for the same reason that those attacks didn’t work in 2008 either, because they are completely inconsistent with the type of person Obama appears to be on the campaign trail. Now that he has four years in office under his belt, the public knows, or at least thinks it knows, more about him as a person. Trying to tarnish that image is likely to be a well-nigh impossible task.

Additionally, the idea that Barack Obama wasn’t vetted in 2008 is, quite simply, an absurd idea that the right has been pushing for the last four years:

During the 2008 campaign, the complaints typically revolved around the claim that the media wasn’t covering things like then-Senator Obama’s ties to Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers (or, for some, that they weren’t demanding to see his birth certificate, college transcripts, or kindergarten graduation records). The most bizarre thing about these particular complaints four years ago is the fact that most of them were being made at the same time that the media was covering the things conservatives said they weren’t covering. Does nobody remember the month of April 2008 when Obama was forced to publicly address the Rev. Wright controversy twice during the course of  a hotly contested primary fight with Hillary Clinton, for example? First, Obama gave a major address in Philadelphia on race after several weeks of press coverage about Wright’s controversial statements. Then, when Rev. Wright decided to go on his own press tour during which he not only doubled down on the controversial statements that were getting coverage in the media nearly every day, but basically said that Obama had only spoken out against those statements for political reasons, Obama found it necessary to openly denounce and disassociate himself from Wright completely. Arguably, the fact that Rev. Wright was in the news for almost the entire month of April 2008 was one of the primary reasons that Obama ended up losing the Pennsylvania Primary. To argue, then, that the media wasn’t covering these issues about Obama’s past is simply absurd. By the time the General Election rolled around, the Rev. Wright issue had been covered to death by the media, and Obama survived it. Clearly, the only reason that it remained a source of complaint on the right was because it didn’t have the effect they had hoped it would.

As you might suspect, the left is largely rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of the Romney campaign parroting, say, The Rush Limbaugh Show or what appears daily at the Breitbart sites, largely because they are convinced it would be doomed to fail. As I noted above, I think it would be but it also depends on what exactly the campaign means to do with this “take off the gloves strategy.” I find it hard to believe that Romney himself will be the one directly going after the President on anything but the issues, that’s just not how Presidential campaigns are run. Instead, you’d see the attacks coming from surrogates, and eventually, the Vice-Presidential nominee. If Romney stays on a mostly economic message, then he can claim some degree of detachment from the whole thing. So, we’ll have to see exactly what the campaign does before evaluating its impact, but my first reaction is that this isn’t really the right way for them to go.

The thing the Romney campaign may not understand, though, is the signal they’ve sent to the activists, the bloggers, the tweeters, and the talk radio hosts. Not that they really needed it, but this kind of shift in tone will just encourage them to double down on their attacks on the President, thinking that they’re actually accomplishing something and helping the campaign. They’ve also opened the door to this kind of rhetoric at the Republican National Convention, when the American people will finally begin playing close attention to this race. Even if the Romney camp doesn’t go hard-core, its supporters will and the media and the Obama campaign will do everything they can to associate one with the other.

They won’t listen to my advice, but the Romney team needs to get on with talking about the economy, the deficit, and the impending fiscal cliff. Nonsense about the President’s past isn’t going to do much to help them win in November, and it poses the not insignificant risk of damaging their candidate severely.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. So after losing the Hispanic vote, they want to make sure Obama has the youth ..

  2. Ron Beasley says:

    This is what happens when you let the lunatics take control of the asylum and that’s what the Republicans did.

  3. J-Dub says:

    Shouldn’t he be taking off the Mittens?

  4. David M says:

    @J-Dub:

    Shouldn’t he be taking off the Mittens?

    Win. Pure, uncut Win.

  5. Blue Shark says:

    What the hell is R-money gonna bring?

    …The propaganda and outright lies about Obama have been ratcheted to the maximum setting on the dial for three and a half long years by the entire right wing universe, including all of those “pundits” who know better.

    …Once you have thrown Kenyan, Marxist, socialist, communist, Nazi, baby killer, gay-lover, Terrorist coddling, anti-American, national apologist, really really (half) BLACK, negro, African American, (did I mention BLACK yet?), poser, Black helicopter master, concentration camp building, Andrew Breitbarf murdering, corrupted Chicago mob-style ruthless (but spineless) politician at a person … I ask.

    …what the hell is left to bring?

  6. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Meh. It’s mid-July. The height of political silly season. We’ll know the end game after the conventions.

    Then there’s the other elephant in the room: negative campaining works. From “Daisy,” to Willie Horton, to Schumer-D’Amato, to South Carolina 2000, to the DUI, to Carnahan’s corpse-Ashcroft, to Landrieu-Terrell, to Davis-Simon, to the CA Recall, to Jack Ryan, to the Swift Boat thing, to Blanco-Jindal, to Webb-Allen, to Franken-Coleman, to the Ted Stevens fiasco, to Tester-Burns, to the attacks on Palin, etc., and a lot of places and faces before and after, candidates have been rewarded for taking off the gloves and for strapping on the brass knuckles.

    My own viewpoint, FWIW, is that Team Romney, while inept and largely clueless, is not so dumb as to stray all that far away from the obvious issue: It’s the idiocy, economy. Come September and October we’ll know for sure whether or not that’s the case.

  7. Lib Cap says:

    @Blue Shark:

    …what the hell is left to bring?

    Moderate conservative?

    RINO ?

    I think that they have run out of hypebole, and will have to start using criticisms that they reserve for themselves.

  8. C. Clavin says:

    So Jenos Indiana Jones and Tsar are now running Romney’s campaign? Brilliant. All Fast and Furious and Birtherism and Ayers and Jeremiah Wright all the time.

    Given Romney’s well-known temper…you have to wonder if the Obama Campaign hasn’t been waiting for the Romney Campaign to over-react in exactly this manner. I was really hoping to see Slick Willard lose it in a debate…but seeing it in large scale…across an entire campaign could be cool too. Also very Reagan-like…snark.

  9. Rob in CT says:

    So, wait, the gloves have been on so far?

    Bwahahahahahahaha!

    Shouldn’t he be taking off the Mittens?

    Oh, well done. Well done indeed.

  10. C. Clavin says:

    Does Romney taking off his mittens silence the growing chorus of Republicans telling him to release his tax returns?

  11. Moosebreath says:

    The key phrase in the article quoted is “Indeed, facing what the candidate and his aides believe to be a series of surprisingly ruthless, unfounded, and unfair attacks from the Obama campaign on Romney’s finances and business record”

    Let’s unpack this a bit:

    1. “surprising ruthless” — as the old saying goes, politics ain’t beanbag. If Mitt can’t stand the heat…

    2. “unfounded” — this would mean more if it were more specific. The charge so far is that Mitt has claimed he had no involvement with Bain from 1999 through 2002, but was signing forms with the SEC saying he was sole shareholder, CEO and President. To my knowledge, no one has disputed this is true. However, one of these statements must be wrong, and if it is the first, he is lying to the American people now, and if it is the second, he committed a felony.

    3. “unfair” — if having something unfair happen causes Mitt to change course so drastically, it suggests he doesn’t have the temperment to be President, as dealing calmly with unexpected results is a major part of the job. If you lose focus and lash out, you aren’t promoting your long-term interests.

    In the words of Canadian PM Diefenbacker, “I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and it sounds like hell to them.”

  12. Jr says:

    And they can kiss the election good bye……..

  13. Herb says:

    We’re all shaking in our boots……

    I mean, after the flag pins and the birth certificates and the terrorist fist bumps and the tea parties and the death panels and the socialism, maybe the bright minds in the GOP have finally figured out a way to go after Obama without making themselves look like idiots.

    But probably not.

  14. DRS says:

    Setting aside for a moment the image of Mitt “Rabid Doberman” Romney on the campaign trail, let’s look at the Republican base for a moment. These people are collectively the most expensive date it electoral history. They are never satisfied, always looking for validation by forcing a candidate to mouth their platitudes, ignoring the fact that it’s because of their need to hear that kind of thing that Romney’s tossed over the side every position he used to hold. They’re never going to look in the mirror and ask “Maybe it’s me that’s the problem?”

    Also: J-Dub, if you rocked any harder, you’d be a mountain range.

  15. mattb says:

    Doug, I have to disagree with you on this:

    Well, fine, it will certainly rally the base but I remain convinced that the base of the Republican Party is not going to have any trouble getting out and supporting Mitt Romney this fall. Not so much because they love Romney so much, but because they hate Barack Obama even more.

    I don’t think the base is at all sewn up for Romney. Remember that in 2008 the base had a pretty strong hatred of Obama, but that wasn’t enough to get them to turn out enmass for McCain. And a lot of them are not particularly hot on Romney either.

    What makes matters worse is that the conservative talking class are *not* in love with Romney either. And while a lot of their shows can be dedicated to Obama-hating, if they can’t say al ot of good things about Romney, then that’s not going to keep the base going. Especially if the base worries (as folks like Eric F. do) that Romney is essentially conservative lite at best and a closet dem at worst.

    So I don’t think this has much to do with independents. This is more about throwing some red meat to the base (and the talkers) and demonstrating again that Romney does not have a glass jaw.

  16. Drew says:

    “Romney] has said Obama’s a nice fellow, he’s just in over his head,” the adviser said.”

    The truth sometimes hurts.

    Meanwhile, the Dems will continue to insist Republicans want to poison children and throw grandma out in the snow. Clever repartee.

  17. EddieInCA says:

    @J-Dub:

    J-Dub says:
    Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 15:44

    Shouldn’t he be taking off the Mittens?

    So much awesome.

    There should be mechanism wherein one comment, so good, just ends a thread.

    Ends it.

    “Comments closed due to subject of thread being PwNd”

  18. C. Clavin says:

    “…Dems will continue to insist Republicans want to poison children and throw grandma out in the snow…”

    Um…isn’t that the end result of dismantling the EPA and eliminating Medicare? What do you think is going to happen? The Koch Brothers are going to stop polluting on their own? They pollute now WITH regulations…what will they do absent regulations?
    The reason we have Medicare is because in the 60’s no insurance companies wanted to insure Grandma. What happens when we give Grandma a voucher that is not enough to keep pace with increasing Health Care costs…which is exactly what the Ryan plan calls for? Are insurance companies going to suddenly insure Grandma out of the goodness of their heart?
    If you insist on repeating the Fox News talking points you only make explicit your lack of understanding of the issues.

  19. KariQ says:

    @C. Clavin:

    In fairness, TN is nothing like Jenos. He makes coherent points that are logically connected and not merely rehashes of the latest talking points mingled with silly insults. I disagree with him, but he’s clearly capable of independent thought.

    To the main topic: I have a hard time seeing swing voters deciding to vote for Romney because Obama isn’t a “real American.” Equally with all the other issues that Obama was never “vetted” on. Even if the right was correct (And as Doug says, they aren’t) at this point it would all be meaningless. He’s president; you need a new line of attack.

  20. rudderpedals says:

    Yes, this smells of convention-planning panic.

    And Coppins should try to get at least one source to go on the record next time.

  21. michael reynolds says:

    @Drew:

    Meanwhile, the Dems will continue to insist Republicans want to poison children and throw grandma out in the snow. Clever repartee.

    Yes, not nearly as clever as repeating this tired wheeze.

    Guess what? If you cut the social safety net and regulation enough you do in fact poison children and throw grandma out in the snow.

  22. David M says:

    @Drew:

    Meanwhile…[the] Republicans want to poison children and throw grandma out in the snow.

    So you’ve met Paul Ryan then?

    (The truth sometimes hurts.)

  23. Herb says:

    @Drew:

    “Meanwhile, the Dems will continue to insist Republicans want to poison children and throw grandma out in the snow. Clever repartee.”

    I think you steered your spaceship into an alternate universe or something because in this universe….usually you have to “start” something before you can “continue” it.

  24. al-Ameda says:

    “[Romney] has said Obama’s a nice fellow, he’s just in over his head,” the adviser said. “But I think the governor himself believes this latest round of attacks that have impugned his integrity and accused him of being a felon go so far beyond that pale that he’s really disappointed. He believes it’s time to vet the president. He really hasn’t been vetted; McCain didn’t do it.”

    This president hasn’t been vetted yet? Preposterous.

    Romney is already perceived as a cold plutocrat, and sending out his own Swift Boat Team to attack Obama will serve to (1) reveal more of Romney’s corporate cutthroat side, and (2) motivate and energize Obama’s base. It will not do any more to help Romney base which is already fully ginned up on the anybody-but-Obama stuff.

  25. al-Ameda says:

    @Blue Shark:

    …what the hell is left to bring?

    Accuse him of being ‘Black while president’?

  26. C. Clavin says:

    So….I’m a bit confused.
    Romney is campaigning on the idea that his Bain experience makes him uniquely qualified to be President.
    The President questions that position and argues against it. And he suggests maybe it would be good to see some tax returns to better judge the outcome of Romney’s business practices and the result of Republican policies.
    Romney has no coherent answer to the Presidents argument…and so he is going to go full Breitbart instead.
    And this petulant spokied frat boy is the best that Republicans have to offer us after a raft of losers?
    Let’s put this in perspective:
    Bush 43 and Cheney and McCain and Palin and Romney.
    That’s a pretty weak bullpen.

  27. michael reynolds says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Accuse him of being ‘Black while president’?

    That would be refreshing honesty for once.

  28. C. Clavin says:

    By the way…
    I don’t generally trust Huffpost…but they are out with a report tha says Romney did not fully disclose his 2010 taxes…which he claims is enough.
    There’s another report that he would not have run if he knew Bain and his taxes were going to be such an issue…but that makes no sense because they’ve been an issue everytime he’s run.

  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    And yet…. Romney just might win. Ever get the feeling your message is not even heard, much less listened to?

    Yeah…. he just might win,

  30. Jib says:

    How can Romney be stunned that Obama attacked him on Bain? Kennedy killed him on Bain in the 90’s, he was hurt bad by Bain in the gov race even though he won and Bain was even used against him to some effect in the primaries. So in 2012, with all the post-great recession free floating rage out there against Wall Street, he had to know this was coming and he had to know he would need to get on top of it quickly before it took hold.

    The repubs can not be that out of touch, can they?

    I think this was a bat signal sent to the Super Pacs, it is time to release the hounds. Romney can stay clean and let the big money do his dirty work. It is the Wall Street way.

    At least this will make for an entertaining convention. I expect the whole batshit crazy glory that is the GOP will now be front and center at the convention. No use in holding back, the candidate is all for it. Add a few thousand Occupy protesters to really get the juices of the delegates flowing, could be the best show we had since ’68.

  31. @Drew:

    In a recent survey by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a Democratic polling firm, likely voters gave Obama a 49 to 46 percent lead over Romney. When respondents learned about the cuts the Ryan budget would mean for entitlements and other domestic programs, Obama’s lead grew slightly. When the effect on the working poor was highlighted, Obama ended up with a 51-43 margin.

    Note Drew, that they didn’t have to make anything up, they just needed to explain the actual plan.

  32. This Why won’t Romney release more tax returns? story has been updated.

    It is kind of striking. People are asking what Romney was doing with Swiss accounts in 2008, 2009, and Romney is talking about Obama smoking dope as a kid. If they actually see parity, they are psycho.

  33. Jay says:

    Or, are they looking for a candidate who is going to talk about the state of the economy and what he thinks should be done to make things better?

    Interesting. I thought they were looking for a candidate who would release his tax returns. Now we’re back to the economy again?

  34. Jay says:

    @Jib:

    Actually, they fought off the initial Bain attacks very well. When the Chicago punks running Obama’s campaign saw typical class warfare rhetoric wasn’t doing the trick, they turned to calling him a felon (Yeah, I know….nobody actually called him a felon *wink* *wink*) or claiming he was “hiding” something by not releasing every tax return he has ever filed.

    And I say every tax return because that is basically what will happen. If he releases 5 more years, the Democrats will say, “Why not ten?” He releases ten and they’ll say, “Why not fifteen?!? What are you hiding?!?” It won’t stop. So good on him for flipping everybody the bird on this pointless tax return issue.

  35. An Interested Party says:

    When the Chicago punks running Obama’s campaign…

    “Punks” compared to whom? Karl Rove? Lee Atwater? Roger Ailes? That you would call them “punks” means that what they are doing is effective…

    So good on him for flipping everybody the bird on this pointless tax return issue.

    The issue certainly isn’t pointless if it damages Romney, and he can keep flipping everybody the bird all the way to a loss for him on November 6th…

  36. michael reynolds says:

    @Jay:
    Jay:

    Oh bullsh!t. He can release 12 years like his father did. If he’s got nothing to hide, what’s the problem?

    The problem is: he’s got something to hide. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. Either he paid 0% taxes some years, or he donated to liberal groups (back when he was a liberal-for-votes) or my pet crazy conspiracy theory: he’s concealed income from the LDS.

    If he had nothing to hide he would have released the forms, period, no weasel room, that’s just the fact.

  37. Drew says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Balls, and you know it.

    This is just dishonest talk. “if you cut it enough.”. Pure crap, Michael. A total straw man argument. Just kindergarten stuff.

  38. jan says:

    @Jay:

    “If he releases 5 more years, the Democrats will say, “Why not ten?” He releases ten and they’ll say, “Why not fifteen?!? What are you hiding?!?” It won’t stop. So good on him for flipping everybody the bird on this pointless tax return issue.”

    Yep. Then they’ll parrot, “Why doesn’t he release 12 years like his father did.” The game is to keep the game going, by accusing him of hiding something if he doesn’t cave to their demands.

  39. anjin-san says:

    So good on him for flipping everybody the bird on this pointless tax return issue.”

    Flipping voters the bird… good strategy.

  40. anjin-san says:

    Now we’re back to the economy again?

    Just what is Romney’s plan for the economy? We used to hear a lot about how we should trust the economy to him because of his record at Bain. Suddenly he does not want to talk about Bain.

  41. @Jay:

    Your story kind of leaves out key Republicans:

    The Top 10 GOP Attacks on Bain Capital

    Actually, that’s just a Perry-Gingrich tag team, but there it is.

    On taxes we have …

    The list of prominent Republicans advising Romney to give up earlier tax returns includes Texas Representative Ron Paul , Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour, Iowa Senator Charles Grassley and Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson.

  42. @jan:

    “Why doesn’t he release 12 years like his father did?”

    That’s actually a pretty good question. Here is another:

    “Why would anyone defend the 2 years?”

    (The answer is probably “I don’t care, my party right or wrong” in both cases.)

  43. anjin-san says:

    The National Review is telling Romney to release more tax returns. Partisan bastards…

  44. michael reynolds says:

    @Drew:
    Can you actually explain that rather than retreating quickly behind a smoke screen?

    Do federal funds NOT protect children from poisoning? At all?

    Do they NOT keep grandma from being thrown out in the snow. At all?

    Would cutting ALL funding for regulation and elder care etc… not result in ANY poisoning of children or tossing of grannies? Explain.

  45. michael reynolds says:

    @jan:

    So, why doesn’t he release 12 years like his father did?

    Problem solved. Issue all done with.

    If it was good enough for his father, what’s Mitt’s problem?

  46. David M says:

    @jan: Two years is certainly hiding something, especially when one of the years may be incomplete.

  47. jukeboxgrad says:

    moose:

    The charge so far is that Mitt has claimed he had no involvement with Bain from 1999 through 2002, but was signing forms with the SEC saying he was sole shareholder, CEO and President. To my knowledge, no one has disputed this is true. However, one of these statements must be wrong, and if it is the first, he is lying to the American people now, and if it is the second, he committed a felony.

    This is what Cutter said, and it’s true, but I think it’s important to realize that Cutter (and you) have understated the problem.

    The first statement (“Mitt has claimed he had no involvement with Bain from 1999 through 2002”) is not just something he said to us. It’s something he said in a formal filing with FEC. Therefore he hasn’t just been caught “lying to the American people.” He’s been caught lying to the government, which is a felony.

    Here’s a different way to say it. There is no doubt that Romney committed a felony, because what he said to SEC (that he remained CEO etc) is brazenly contradicted by what he later said to FEC (that he “retired” on 2/11/99). The only way to reconcile that contradiction is to introduce the concept of retroactive retirement, which is a statement about time travel and therefore an unintentional joke.

    So Cutter’s comment could have been stronger (although I think there are some subtle reasons why it was good politics for her to say it the way she said it).

  48. DRS says:

    Tell you what – Romney can release 5 years worth of tax returns. After all, we know by now that he’s not even half the man his father was.

  49. DRS says:

    I think Ezra Klein comes closest to this entire issue today:

  50. DRS says:

    Oh bleeping hell – how does this damn link thing work?!?!?

    Anyway, here’s the url: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/07/17/romneys-risk-free-deal-with-bain/

  51. Fiona says:

    Yep. Then they’ll parrot, “Why doesn’t he release 12 years like his father did.” The game is to keep the game going, by accusing him of hiding something if he doesn’t cave to their demands.

    This must be the Romney party line. It’s essentially what Ann Romney said in her interview on GMA this morning. Too bad not even a lot of Republicans are buying it. His opponents in the Republican primary certainly did not. I guess it’s only the Jans of the world that find this line of argument compelling.

    Romney’s refusal to release his taxes only feeds into the image of arrogance and disdain that already haunts Romney for good reason. He comes off as a prick in debates and interviews and, once people besides political junkies start paying attention to the election again, that unlikeability factor is going to come into play. Taking of the mittens, so to speak, may only remind the public how much they don’t like him.

  52. C. Clavin says:

    So half-a-dozen commentoers have pointed out the real ramifications of Republican policies in repsonse to Drew’s comment…and his response?

    “…A total straw man argument. Just kindergarten stuff…”

    And thus the reason you cannot have a discussion on the issues with people like Jan and Drew and Jenos Indiana Jones and Tsar.

  53. C. Clavin says:

    @ Jan…

    “…Yep. Then they’ll parrot, “Why doesn’t he release 12 years like his father did.” The game is to keep the game going, by accusing him of hiding something if he doesn’t cave to their demands…”

    Actually…the game is to keep hiding something instead of following established protocol. And in order to justify their game they lie about Kerry. If you have to lie to make your argument…then you are a liar.

  54. Well, if taking off the mittens was supposed to have a short term effect, it failed. The news cycle this morning is filled with even more gossip and speculation about Romney’s … secrets.

  55. jukeboxgrad says:

    And in order to justify their game they lie about Kerry.

    They also said something dishonest and misleading about McCain. It’s true that McCain released only two years of tax returns, but he had been filing annual financial disclosure reports (link), as required by Senate rules. So it’s wrong for them to imply that Romney is telling us as much as McCain did.

    The articles discussing this subject should mention this, but mostly do not.

  56. Barry says:

    “To argue, then, that the media wasn’t covering these issues about Obama’s past is simply absurd.”

    Correction – it’s a flat-out lie.

  57. Barry says:

    Doug, note that that article has (unnamed) Romney guys talking about how tough they’re gonna get. When people have to talk about being tough,…

  58. Barry says:

    @Drew: “The truth sometimes hurts.”

    How would Romney know that?

  59. anjin-san says:

    Olympics Documents Described Romney as Bain CEO

    BuzzFeed: “Mitt Romney has spent much of the last week arguing that, despite some public records, he was effectively gone from Bain Capital in February 1999. But in February 2000, Romney was introduced as the ‘founder and CEO of Capital’ at the National Press Club during an appearance about the Olympics, and Romney’s biography on the Olympic’s website listed him as Bain Capital ‘founder and CEO.'”

  60. anjin-san says:

    Romney Wouldn’t Have Run If He Had to Release Taxes

    Mitt Romney “has been determined to resist releasing his tax returns at least since his bid for Massachusetts governor in 2002 and has been confident that he will never be forced to do so,” several current and former Bain executives tell the Huffington Post.

    “Had he thought otherwise, say the sources based on their longtime understanding of Romney, he never would have gone forward with his run for president.”

  61. paladin says:

    Why Doug considers BuzzFeed a legitimate news source; the top 5 articles:

    1. GIF’s of Olympic Hurdler Michelle Jenneke Dancing before a Race

    2. Will Farrell and Zach Galifianianakes (?) Read the Starting Line-Up at a Cubs Game

    3. 10 Things We Wish Took Less Than 10 Seconds

    4. 19 Reasons Why Prince Charles Is The Quirkiest Member Of The Royal Family

    5. Zipper, The Motorcycle Riding Pet Squirrel.

    If it ain’t on Buzzfeed, it ain’t happenin’

    Unless the fair and balanced Ezra Klein says it is!

    Jeez.

  62. al-Ameda says:

    @Jay:

    Actually, they fought off the initial Bain attacks very well.

    L O L !

  63. mattb says:

    @paladin:
    I have trouble seeing how that is all that different than all of the “non-news” stuff heavily promoted on homepage of the NY Post or Daily News…