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Posted by on Aug 10, 2012 in Politics | 23 comments

Romney Now Apparently Wants His Business Record Off Limits

It’s getting so it’s hard to figure out what Mitt Romney will agree to discuss with President Barack Obama in the campaign, unless he only wants it to be about the economy or the latest episode of “Breaking Bad.”

Will Walter White kill Jesse in the end? Or Will Jesse find out Walter’s role in the death of his girlfriend and that poisoning of the kid? Will Skyler survive the final season?

It’s coming down to that: the economy, Obama and anything but Mitt Romney’s past is what Mitt Romney wants to talk about. To recap (in case you’ve been on Mars living with the birthers):

So far Mitt Romney doesn’t want to talk about:

  • His tax returns for the years he hasn’t released or releasing them. He has not released many of them.
  • His term as Governor. Romney and his associates skirt away from his days when he was a moderate Republican governor and admired by many moderates around the country, until he started to shift right as he geared up to run for President several years ago. Turns out a whole bunch of emails are missing.
  • The specifics of what he did at the Olympics. Turns out a whole bunch of records are missing.
  • So that leaves the issue Romney has been bragging about during the primaries, the issue his spokespeople have bragged about, the issue that Fox News, conservative talk show hosts and partisan bloggers often mention: his business experience. We need someone in office who was a businessman and knew how to make a payroll…We need a job creator.



    The Huffington Post:

    Mitt Romney appears to be seeking an agreement with the Obama campaign to remove his business record from the conversation, a sign that the repeated attacks on his tenure at private equity firm Bain Capital may be getting under the presumptive Republican presidential candidate’s skin.

    NBC’s First Read has the following excerpt from Romney’s interview with Chuck Todd, conducted Thursday as part of a forthcoming documentary on MSNBC, in which he said he would like a pledge with Obama barring “personal” attack ads:

    “[O]ur campaign would be– helped immensely if we had an agreement between both campaigns that we were only going to talk about issues and that attacks based upon– business or family or taxes or things of that nature.”

    “[W]e only talk about issues. And we can talk about the differences between our positions and our opponent’s position.” Romney said of his own campaign: “[O]ur ads haven’t gone after the president personally. … [W]e haven’t dredged up the old stuff that people talked about last time around. We haven’t gone after the personal things.”

    In response, First Read asked, “Is Romney really saying that scrutinizing his business record — which he has held up as one of his chief qualifications to be president — is personal?”

    It certainly sounds that way, although if pattern holds now that this story is making the rounds you can expect a)the Romney campaign to try and walk it back a bit b)conservative bloggers to say this a figment of the liberal news media’s imagination and then use as a talking point — you can see this coming a mile away — that Obama won’t talk about the economy and is trying to “change the subject” (a phrase as grating as “didn’t pass the smell test” and “false equivlancy”) but going after Romney’s business experience.

    That would all make sense except for this tiny fact:

    Romney’s whole candidacy has been based on how he was a great businessman and can do to the country what he did to businesses he was involved in.

    But this comment may make some voters fear he’ll do to the country what the porn star who endorsed him is famous for doing on screen.

    Here’s Talking Points Memo:

    Mitt Romney, battered by Democratic attacks over his Bain Capital record and taxes, is calling on President Obama to agree to a truce over his business career.

    “Our campaign would be — helped immensely if we had an agreement between both campaigns that we were only going to talk about issues and that attacks based upon — business or family or taxes or things of that nature,” Romney said, according to excerpts of an upcoming interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd released Friday.

    Romney said he would prefer the campaigns “only talk about issues,” and claimed that “our ads haven’t gone after the president personally. … We haven’t dredged up the old stuff that people talked about last time around. We haven’t gone after the personal things.”

    The only hitch: he only wants to talk about issues that had Obama at the center of them, none that had — or have — Romney at the center of them.

    Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul offered up a broader take on whether Romney was really suggesting that his career at Bain Capital — the crux of his argument that he is better equipped to handle the economy — should be considered off-limits.

    “The governor was expressing his view that he hopes we can have a campaign focused on the issues rather than one of desperation and lies as we’ve seen from the Obama campaign,” Saul said in an e-mail.

    In other words:

    If the media or pundits ask about his tax info, they’re participating in desperation and lies.

    If the media or pundits raise questions about things he was involved in when he ran businesses or was alleged to be involved in, it’ll be desperation and lies.

    While Romney has bristled at attacks on his time at Bain, especially a recent Democratic super PAC ad implying he bears responsibility for a woman’s death, he’s also made his business record a critical component of his campaign, arguably the critical component. From his campaign’s earliest days, Romney argued repeatedly that voters should elect him because of his private-sector experience, crediting his investments in Bain with creating 100,00 jobs (a claim that fact-checkers have heavily disputed).

    “Look, I would not be in this race had I spent my life in politics alone,” Romney said at an October primary debate. “Nothing wrong with that, of course, but right now, with the American people in the kind of financial crisis they are in, they need someone who knows how to create jobs, and I do.”

    That message was reinforced in ads. Most recently, this biographical spot last month that opens with Romney’s business experience…

    The bottom line: what we’re seeing here is one of the very worst Presidential candidates ever put up by any party. Even many third party candidates seem more politically professional — and open — than Romney.

    What can Romney and Company do to do better in the polls?

    Offer an affirmative reason (in specifics) to vote for Mitt Romney.

    Answer some questions, even if not completely. Be prepared — do the H-O-M-E-W-O-R-K most professional politicians do and that major political parties EXPECT when they put their money and candidates down on the ticket on the line when they annoint someone to be at the top of a Presidential ticket.

    Be prepared to answer the tough questions that you know that are coming or that arise — rather than try to get them taken off the table because they may lose you votes.

    Will Obama & Co agree not to talk about Romney’s taxes, not to raise issues about his business career if that’s what Romney is using to say he deserves to be in the Oval Office?

    Why should they?

    When Romney raises this issue he himself takes the focus off the economy.

    Is there a mole in the Romney camp working to elect Barack Obama?

    Is the mole’s name Mitt Romney?

    UPDATE: Commentary’s John Podhoretz has a column about why Romney’s strategy to only talk about the economy isn’t working. And this recent twist is even more of the same. Here’s part of what he writes about the strategy flaw:

    The polls suggesting he’s seven or nine points behind are surely wrong, but given that there is only one national poll that shows him ahead, we have to presume Romney is behind. He should presume he’s behind. And given that there’s no good reason whatever for Obama to be leading, one can only presume that Romney’s strategy in July and now in August is not working.

    Which is why the “we only talk about the economy” line, while superficially clever, was and is so foolish—stupid, even. Of course Romney wants to focus on that one issue. It’s the one that hurts Obama the most, and the one on which he seems to score the best. He and his team have an idea about the campaign. They need to win independents to win. Independents are less ideological. So don’t press the ideological buttons. Keep it simple. Keep it plain. Obama has hurt you. I’ll help you. Fine.

    But that’s not the only reason they’re doing it this way.

    Romney and his people prefer this strategy because it’s what is most comfortable to them. He is not, at root, an ideological person. Neither, at root, are they. And the data suggest this is not a time for a sharply ideological campaign. The data suggest Romney needs to run as Mr. Fix-It. That is how Romney prefers to view himself. So the two match perfectly.

    Alas for him, that’s not how it works. If conservative ideology is a problem with some independents, it also has the virtue of providing those who use it to discuss the nation’s problems with a pulse. Romney has just learned over the past few weeks that he cannot limit the discussion to the topics he wishes to talk about, especially when his rival is spending $100 million trying to destroy him in the swing states and when the media are largely serving his purposes by acting as though an increase in the unemployment rate and utterly unimpressive jobs-creation numbers are somehow good news.

    So here’s why he should be talking about other things, releasing plans, giving speeches on big topics—because it’s the only way he can control the discussion. If he says the same thing about the economy every single day, he bores. He provides nothing new for anyone to fix on. He has to feed the beast. And it can’t just be that he puts his toe gingerly in the welfare-reform pool one day and then defend himself for three days after. It all has to keep moving.

    In any case, if he doesn’t start putting things down on paper and develop the themes in speeches and get specific so that there is some meat on the bones of his policies, what on earth is he going to talk about for the next 88 days? Whether or not he killed a woman? This is a race he should be able to win, so if he loses, it won’t be because Obama won it. It will be because he lost it—and we’re seeing exactly how that might happen right now.

    It looks like Mitt Romney is working very hard so far.

    To lose.

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    • In addition to being a rediculous request it is really bad politics. It makes him look weak and voters don’t want a weak President and Comander In Chief.

    • ShannonLeee

      We cant completely blame Rep voters for selecting Mitt. They literally tried every other candidate under the sun, because they knew Mitt was terrible. In the end, they went with the establishment guy because he was the default choice.

      Reps had no one in the bullpen after W, except another Bush, and that wasnt going to happen after what W did to our country.

    • dduck

      What SL said.

    • slamfu

      Well considering he doesn’t really even want to talk about the issues either, at least not in terms of explaining clearly how he is going to get us out of this mess using means other than Obama has tried, I don’t think he has anywhere to go with just talking about “the issues” either. Romney has dutifully regurgitated the GOP mantra, lower taxes, less regulation, etc… but always the broad strokes. He clearly doesn’t have a plan except for what sounds like redoing what the GOP did during the Bush years. I’ve seen how that movie ends, and unless he comes up with something better I’ll stick with the devil I know.

    • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

      “In response, First Read asked, ‘Is Romney really saying that scrutinizing his business record — which he has held up as one of his chief qualifications to be president — is personal?’”

      Actually he almost said that, or some crazy similar thing:

      In a Bloomberg Business week interview, when asked why voters shouldn’t see more of his financial information as an investor would want to see before putting money into the company, Romney replied “I am not a business.”

      OK, so because he is not a business he doesn’t have to release his business financial information — even though he credits his investments in Bain with creating 100,00 jobs.

      But he also does not want to release his personal income taxes.

      Is that because he is not a person?

      And what happened to his claim that “corporations are people,”too?

      Just weird.

    • zephyr

      First off, I DO blame the republicans for this choice. They are reaping what they have sown, simple as that. They couldn’t go with any of their crazed reactionairies for obvious reasons, so process of elimination was all they had left. This is on them. As for Mitt whining no fair, does he think this is a touch football game? Good grief..

    • sparrow

      with all the twist and turns we may find out that Skyler is Mitt’s tax accountant and she is Harry’s source?

    • cjjack

      Mittens is, for all intents and purposes, applying for a job.

      He has presented his resume’ to his potential employers(us), and we’re just getting to the final couple of interviews.

      Now that we’ve got a tough decision to make, suddenly job applicant Romney is reluctant to discuss the most apparently impressive things on his resume’.

      We, his potential employers are asking him (through the press) to elaborate on those things he claims qualifies him for the job…

      His time as Governor.

      His handling of the Olympics.

      His business career.

      At this stage in the interview process, more detailed questions should be asked of the applicant with regards to those things he is apparently most proud of, but for some reason, the applicant has decided he doesn’t want to talk about ANY of them.

      If I were the hiring manager or HR person of a company faced with such recalcitrance on the part of an applicant for a very important job, this would send up a huge red flag, and would almost certainly disqualify that person from consideration.

    • Jim Satterfield

      His idea of the issues is to say that Obama is doing a terrible job while he refuses to provide an adequate combination of how he will do better and why the voters should believe that he can actually do it. So far the first part is full of contradictions and now he apparently doesn’t want to discuss the second part.

    • merkin

      It is potentially worse than this. Obama has another line of attack that they haven’t even used yet, George W. Bush. There isn’t one sliver of space between the policies of the Bush years and what Romney is proposing with the exception that Romney is for formally adopting the policy of ignoring any threat from global climate change and he wants no immigration reform. Neither can be called an improvement.

      He wants to continue the economic policies of the Bush years that brought on the largest depression since the Great Depression of the 1930’s. As I understand his position it is that the economic policies of the Bush years didn’t cause the financial crisis, basically that the economic policies didn’t effect the economy, but those exact same policies will suddenly start affecting the economy to improve it.

      He endorses the Bush years policy of starting wars rather than diplomacy. Iran seems to be his target of choice. Although he does seem to pine for those carefree years of conflict with Russia called the cold war when only the wimps worried about nuclear annihilation.

      He believes that rolling back fifty years of social progress is actually in the best interests of minorities and women, also paralleling the Bush position.

      I believe that Romney would be a more viable candidate for president if he could answer these two questions, name three things where Bush era policy was wrong and you promise not to do and what three things Obama has done right that you won’t change.

    • petew

      As an ad from the Romney camp recently claimed, The President did say during the Last campaign, that, If he didn’t lower the National debt and cause a significant recovery by the time his first term ended, then he is the person responsible, and there is good reason to consider a one term presidency for him. So, of course the President’s record on the economy, is fair game to talk about–even if much of it involved fighting a head wind of extreme GOP obstructionism that completely prevented the President from making any bankable progress or initiating a quick recovery.

      Romney’s record at Bain capital is also a logical and reasonable topic to be used as a centerpiece of campaign debate. How could it not be? The tax records and business track record of someone who wants to bring about a recovery for ALL, merely by virtue of having a good head for business, are of paramount concern to the American People.

      Of course, because so much talk has been done about Obama blaming others for our economic woes, The President has his hands tied when it comes to enumerating the offenses of Bush-era Republicans. Romney also, can hardly even think about blaming others at Bain, because if he is half the businessman he claims, and occupied a central executive position in the company, then his predecessors certainly should have been no impediment.

      I think it is easier to sympathize with the President’s hardships because of the economic burden that was immediately placed on his shoulders, and the fact that he was constantly prevented from bringing about a recovery in a smaller amount of time because of rabid Republican obstructionism. Certainly Obama more clearly deserves the benefit of the doubt. But, both his record on the economy AND the way Romney did his job at Bain Capital, ARE valid campaign issues! However, If Romney wants to keep most voters attracted to his record as someone who knows how to grow a business, and wants to gain their trust, then refusing to release more of his tax records and information about his business dealings, is going to be poison to his campaign and will truly become, the “Bain” of his existence. When he refuses to do so, he is signing his own political death certificate! All the rest is just political hot air.

    • rudi

      Word has it that Mitten’s is picking Ryan for VP. This team makes W’s look like Eisenhower.

      Most of this takes for granted that adding Ryan to the ticket would be politically helpful to Romney and that a Romney-Ryan ticket would win, which has never made any sense, either. Last year, the original Ryanmania started because Republicans were certain that Obama would lose, and they didn’t want to “waste” a victory by running a hum-drum, cautious campaign. That was when Ryan boosters wanted Ryan as the presidential nominee. The new Ryanmania is taking hold because there is now no longer much confidence that Romney can win without doing something “bold,” which puts the Romney campaign on track to make the McCain error that they had been pledging not to repeat (i.e., choosing an unqualified person as running mate because it will generate excitement).

    • dduck

      CJ said: “Mittens is, for all intents and purposes, applying for a job.”

      I agree. Look at the last guy who applied and got the job. No executive experience, just promises of hope and change. Enough of we employers said OK. What business or government job sets the bar that low. Not any, I would say.

      All of the things said by the commenters above about Romney are basically true, but if Obama could get elected, there is a shot for Romney on the “hope for change” ticket.

      Oh, and another president got elected despite some awful financial and personal baggage.

    • slamfu

      Dduck, there is a difference there. Obama has a light resume, but he didn’t shy away from it. And he did what anyone with a light resume does when applying for a job, prove your smart enough to pull it off. I first liked him in 2006 when I read an article about an Obama quote before we went into Iraq. He basically called EXACTLY what was going to happen and said its a bad idea. I thought, wow, this guy gets it. There are numerous other areas where he has showed good judgement since then.

      Romney doesn’t have a light resume. He has a very extensive one that he has said qualifies him for the job. But instead of shining light on the details, he is hiding them. That is completely different from the Obama situation in ’08. The few times Romney has committed to something he has been in the wrong. Incidentally, they were issues that came up under Obama’s administration, Obama took the other path and things worked out. I’m thinking namely the auto industry bailout and the hit on Bin Laden. Now I know the bailout was started under Bush, it was the right thing to do and Obama merely continued it. It was probably one of the few things Bush did that made sense and he deserves credit for his part in it. But under Obama’s admin they didn’t have to continue it or could have handled it very badly. Romney came out as clearly against it.

    • dduck

      You said light, I say no experience.
      Who among us with experience, hasn’t had some missteps. No one hires a blank resume for an executive job.
      I stand by my earlier post and I hope I don’t have to change it.

    • cjjack


      You seem to be missing the point.

      First off, let’s dispense with the mythical “Obama has no experience” talking point.

      Prior to being elected in 2008, Barack Obama had graduated with honors from Harvard, taught law at the University of Chicago, served in the Illinois legislature and the United States Senate. He’d also written two best selling books, was a civil rights attorney, and served on the boards of several foundations.

      By any objective standard he was a success. If he’d never run for President he’d still be a success beyond the dreams of most Americans.

      This notion that business experience trumps all else is absurd. A guy who runs a Subway franchise technically has more business experience than Obama had in 2008, but I don’t think you’d say that qualifies them for the White House.

      Second, you said:

      “No one hires a blank resume for an executive job.”

      Mittens does not have a blank resume, and holds it up as his qualification for the job, but when pressed on the details of his experience, he asserts a sort of “executive privilege” and refuses to elaborate.

      If he’s so proud of the company he built, why won’t he talk about it?

      If he’s so proud of his time as Governor, why won’t he talk about it?

      Now that people are really starting to press him on the details of his resume, he’s saying “look at this young strapping lad standing next to me! Isn’t he great?”

    • dduck

      CJ, I said executive experience. The president is our chief executive.

    • petew

      I’d like to add a bit to the discussion that dduck, cjjack, slamfu and other’s, are having about Obama’s qualifications.

      Of course, Obama didn’t have a history of executive experience in government. Not all candidates have it, nor is it a critical issue for deciding which one is more suited to be our POTUS.

      One point to remember is that, being an executive, by definition, merely refers to experience in how to direct and implement
      necessary actions in order to facilitate critical policies and/or manage the affairs of a collective group. Although much maligned for it, his experience as a community action coordinator, definitely applies. If you doubt that, then go try and do what Obama did in a bad-ass town like Chicago and see how long you last.

      Another important point is that the presidency is not a one man band. Obama had the opportunity to employ some of the best business minds in the country to advise him and help direct us to a productive and necessary course. Every president does that, and needs to do that! So, lets remember that people like Tim Geithner and the head of the Federal Reserve, are, among others, regularly consulted by the President, and whether one agrees with their council or not, they are far from being dunces about the economy.

      When it comes to bills like the ACA, it is also silly to claim, as Republicans have, that it is so lengthy that nobody has really read it. Every legislator or person in an important government office, undoubtedly has an army of secretarial and paralegal aids available upon their whim. The truth is, no one on Capital Hill is an Island, and,still has almost unlimited access to the adequate knowledge needed to intelligently run the Government and make policy decisions!

      Also consider the point that the Government does not operate like a business anyway, and is not intended to. For one thing the US government has the power to raise tax revenues, and so has the ability to procure extremely large sums of money. And does anyone believe that someone who graduates with honors from Harvard Law School, doesn’t have an excellent mind and the ability to comprehend and solve problems. cjjack also mentioned some of the many other accomplishments Obama has amassed, such as serving in the Illinois State Legislature, and the US legislature prior to being elected. Does anyone think accomplishments like these do not edify Presidential candidates–especially about the knowledge needed to be effective leaders?

      Believe it our not, making millions in business does not necessarily grant a person the ability to be a great Presidential leader, and when Romney and others insist mainly on laying the burden of the recession on the backs of middle class people, I can’t help but believe that he and his fellow GOP members are critically lacking in human compassion. He may not think of it this way, but refusing to take the steps necessary to provide adequate Medical Insurance for millions of people CAN and DOES result in thousands of unnecessary deaths a year. He thought this fact was important as a Governor, but has apparently seen the light, and believes that on a National level it is not really needed!

      As a rule I don’t go for catchy political slogans, but the description of our present Republican leaders as wanting to, and actually aiding the transformation of our county, into nothing but a nation “of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations,” is virtually true.

      Mitt and his so called superior executive experience don’t mean a hill of beans if he doesn’t “get” the fact that usually blameless middle class people are suffering because of the greedy excesses of Wall Street and big business.

      There really ARE two different visions involved in the upcoming November elections, and in my book, only one of them understands that freedom and patriotism should not be measured exclusively by the size of ones bank account!

    • dduck

      P, I appreciate your thoughtful and wide ranging comment, sorry I can’t be as diligent.

      I will concede Obama had a little executive experience as an organizer, but what president had that little? There have been many governors and guys that held executive (which is not the same, but does include military, corporate and organizations) experience.

      You yourself describe executive responsibilities. Well the president is described widely as the chief executive of the executive branch. True the corporate world and the business world are different, but hiring and firing and setting things up and administering with the help of good people is common to any organization.

      Most of the rest of what you said is a generic description of what an incoming president must do, that is execute and organize a team to run the presidential department (executives have experience at doing that).

      That’s not to say you can’t be a lousy executive and make poor decisions, but having been there, done that’ helps.

      You certainly wouldn’t want someone without managerial experience running any of your city’s departments or the mayor or the church, etc.

      You mentioned the ACA, perhaps discussion in another thread would be better.

      BTW: Romney got two degrees from Harvard: Law and business. That’s nice, but I rate the governorship of Mass., as much more important.

      Sorry for rambling on and any redundancies.

    • petew


      No doubt managerial experience is extremely valuable, but as you alluded to in many of your points, that alone does not guarantee that a person with such experience will be an effective leader.

      Your apparent belief that relying on excellent cabinet members and picking a cracker Jack Administrative team is only a mundane and relatively unimportant activity, fails to take into account that all of these things can GREATLY enhance the effectiveness of an executive–especially one like Obama who puts much thought into who he needs to listen to. It may be a commonplace aspect of the Presidency, but please, don’t underestimate the importance of the men surrounding the President.

      Whether or not I would want someone without managerial skills running my Church, or any of my cities departments, depends on other factors as well i.e. does this person have a history of involvement in civic organizations, has he played an active role as an involved citizen concerning the various issues in my community, does he display personal intelligence, or even, is he a good person who really understands the problems faced by ordinary citizens? Logically speaking, everyone must start somewhere, and if one does not have extensive managerial skills, those skills can begin at many other levels. In the meantime, There are many other important qualities in candidates that indicate if they can handle such a position.

      Like you, I think Romney’s position as Governor of Massachusetts is a much better aspect of his resume than his time at Bain Capital, but considering how he did his job as an executive at Bain, is a very valid way to judge his perceptions about how to do business, and, accordingly, what his views on our National economy might be. It just so happens that as a Governor he designed the template for the present health care reforms that he is now so determined to end completely as his first executive act–how does,a been there done that experience, indicate such an extreme condemnation of the ACA. Doesn’t he want the same success for a national health care bill–especially one that is based on the successes of his own designs?

      The discussions on this forum concerning Obama’s qualifications include some of his hindrances, but, in my book, many positive factors as well. In my opinion, anyone who has the heart and conviction to chew out members of the Supreme Court in front of a full gathering of Congress, has the guts and heart of a leader! The fact that he condemned our involvement in Iraq from the beginning, when few politicians were bold enough to do so, also speaks volumes about his character. You have every right to disagree, but his experience as a community organizer reveals much more promise as a compassionate and gutsy leader–certainly more than the experience of a franchise manager for the local McDonald’s, and certainly reveals much more about his integrity than the financial dealings of a Bain Hedge Fund manager, Who helped run a Company that’s only goal is the creation of more and more money–employees be damned!

      There are many earmarks of a great leader, and any discussion about qualifications to lead, should include all of them. Similarly the shady aspect of Romney’s refusal to reveal many more years of his tax records, indicates to me, that he is hiding something the American people might not like. He can point fingers back at Harry Reid as much as he likes, but he possesses the power to put the entire matter to rest by simply complying with such a request–ending all of the speculation. Do you suppose he really does have something to hide?

    • dduck

      P, I get it, you like Obama, think he was qualified experience wise to be president, had the acumen to select superior subordinates and managers and can do an effective job. And you think Romney’s background, experience and attitudes would not make him a good experience.
      Well, you are welcome to your opinion, and I wish you well.

      We are on two different wave lengths, so I’m out of here.

    • petew

      That’s basically it! But from what I’ve heard and seen from Romney, he IS a bad experience that would make an even more worse BAD President!

    • petew

      More worse bad?

      My English teachers would turn over in their graves!

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