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Posted by on Jul 18, 2012 in Politics | 3 comments

Quote of the Day: Romney’s Taxes and the Still Uglier Campaign to Come

Our political Quote of the Day comes from two MSNBC First Read items that deal with the fact that now bipartisan calls for presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney to release more tax returns won’t go away — and that if you thought this campaign is ugly now, to paraphrase Al Jolson and Ronald Reagan “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

*** Romney’s tax-return dilemma: For Mitt Romney and his campaign, the tax return story isn’t going away. Just yesterday, the conservative National Review called on the presumptive GOP presidential nominee to release his returns prior to 2010. So did Ron Paul. And Rick Perry said yesterday that candidates for public office should be “as transparent as you can be with your tax returns,” though he wouldn’t directly answer if Romney himself should release more returns. Here’s the problem for Romney: Either today, tomorrow, or next week, another Republican will probably also call on him to release more returns. National Review summed up Romney’s dilemma this way: “[H]e’s a politician running for the highest office in the land, and his current posture is probably unsustainable. In all likelihood, he won’t be able to maintain a position that looks secretive and is a departure from campaign conventions. The only question is whether he releases more returns now, or later — after playing more defense on the issue and sustaining more hits. There will surely be a press feeding frenzy over new returns, but better to weather it in the middle of July.”

*** Trying to change the subject: While the Romney campaign finds itself on the defensive — on the tax returns, on Bain Capital — it moved aggressively yesterday to change the subject. Not only did a feisty Romney accuse President Obama of “crony capitalism” and misunderstanding business while stumping in Pennsylvania, but the campaign held a conference call with reporters in which surrogates talked about Tony Rezko and “socialism.” And topping it off on the conference call, former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu said: “I wish this president would learn how to be an American.” Sununu eventually walked back that comment, but he also said on FOX yesterday that Obama doesn’t understand “how the American system functions” because “he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something,” The Hill writes. Indeed, an unnamed Romney adviser tells Buzzfeed that little will be off-limits from now on. “‘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.’” And it’s just not the Romney campaign now slinging mud; the DNC is up with a web video featuring the Romneys’ dancing horse. Here we go…

I just don’t think the kind of rant that Buzzfeed quotes is going to score with many independent voters. It sounds — again — like someone has been taping and transcribing Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. The GOP is going to need a hard hitting attack on Obama’s record coupled with SPECIFIC alternatives. The kinds of charges mentioned in the Buzzfeed quote have been around for years and won’t change any votes. It’s like a medley of past charges that didn’t influence the 2008 election or opinion polls. Also, love Obama or not, voters have lived with him during his time in office and have a feel of him whether they like him or not. Romney still remains in many ways an undrawn Etch a Sketch picture.

Which could be good and bad for him. Who can draw the picture first? His campaign or Obama’s? The tax return controversy is drawing a poor picture of him — and so are operatives like John Sununu and the Buzzfeed source who seem like they’re reading scripts by right wing talk show hosts catering to members of the Republican choir.

They’ll need to offer swing voters more.

Because the vote is in November and in 2013 Romney can’t count on a being retroactively elected.