Where Bain Ends And Romney Begins
Josh Marshall’s got a potentially big scoop for the 2012 campaign, one that could make Mitt Romney’s summer even hotter and longer than it’ll be for the rest of us.
Democrats have put forth a concerted effort to portray Romney as an out-of-touch and unfeeling member of the .01 percent. They’ve done so primarily by relying on the testimonials of those who worked for firms Bain Capital eventually bankrupted. But they’ve also used media reports concerning Romney’s offshore financial holdings as well as Bain’s embrace of outsourcing when running various American firms.
The Washington Post is responsible for the most high-profile and controversial piece on Bain’s practices during Romney’s tenure — a piece the Romney campaign first tried to ignore, then tried, unsuccessfully, to get the Post to retract. The Republican campaign’s defense of Romney on this score has been in two parts.
One part has been challenging the veracity of the Post‘s reporting itself by, primarily, citing a handful of glowing quotes given by the current or former CEOs of the outsourcing firms. This has not changed any minds. The second retort from the GOP has been to claim that since Romney left Bain to run the Olympics in 1999, he has had nothing to do with the firm and cannot be held responsible for its actions. While FactCheck.org has accepted Romney’s explanation, the Obama campaign and some center-left media figures have been more skeptical that Romney truly did wash his hands of the private equity juggernaut.
So let’s turn back to Josh Marshall. In a post on Talking Points Memo’s editors’ blog, TPM founder Marshall flags a couple of SEC filings from the early 2000s indicating Romney’s defense to be imperfect at best. If Marshall’s found what he thinks he’s found, this could be something of a smoking gun for an Obama campaign determined to cast him as a modern robber baron:
I’ve found yet more instances where Romney made declarations to the SEC that he was still involved in running Bain after February 1999. To the best of my knowledge, no one has yet noted these.
The documents go into different aspects of Romney’s ownership of various Bain and Bain related assets. But in both Romney had to say what he currently did for a living.
Romney’s argument is that it doesn’t matter what he said on these SEC filings. Even though he said he was running Bain, he really wasn’t. He was really running the Olympics and didn’t have any role at Bain. But absent of any evidence, how is it that anyone can be expected to disregard what Mitt actually told the SEC at the time?
The conventional wisdom is coalescing around the belief in the “Outsourcer-in-Chief” attack doing serious harm to Romney among the white working class voters most likely to abandon Obama. While their seeing Romney as a self-interest plutocrat may not compel them to re-embrace Obama, it may be enough to persuade them not to bother voting at all in November — and for the President, that’s enough.