A sign of how bitter and frantic this closely-contested Presidential campaign is going to be: we haven’t even had the two major political party conventions yet, and the raging war between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney over Reid’s unproven contention that Romney may not have paid taxes for 10 years has reached a new high — or low. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has now called Reid a “dirty liar” — the kind of language you don’t usually hear on the Presidential level, at least from key national players. They at least dance around the name calling a bit.
And this seems to be a coordinated narrative now: Senator Lindsay Graham has also now accused Reid of “lying.”
The likely impact of this?
It’ll keep the issue alive, give a sound byte that will be played on the news and over and over on Fox News and conservative talk shows.
But his language is so blunt that it will most assuredly keep the news media pressing the Romney campaign on the issue of Romney’s taxes. Also most assuredly: you can bet your Grandma Suzie’s casino gambling card that editors are going to have reporters continuing to find any kind of info related to Romney’s tax returns. And if a new piece of negative info comes out it will NOT be good news for Camp Romney.
By using the language he did, Reid will most likely continue to press the issue — which will remain alive, and suck up the political air Romney needs to focus on the real issue of Obama and the economy. Will Reid pull back if he is pressed to provide some evidence for his claim? Or will something occur to back up his charge?
Note these two stories and what it says about the political context of this issue and its impact
Mitt Romney needs to release more years of tax returns top GOP strategist Ed Rollins said on Fox News on Sunday morning.
“I think at this point of time it’s going to dog him all the way and he needs to get it behind him,” Rollins said. “I think he needs to release more taxes. Absolutely.”
Rollins, who managed the presidential campaigns of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and President Ronald Reagan, said he would have released records from “five or six years” much sooner.
“I would not put out 20 years and I obviously wouldn’t respond to anything Harry Reid states,” he said. “At the end of the day you come to the point where you basically give a little bit more and you move forward. And he’s going to do that. Two years is not enough, obviously.”
Rollins is just the latest Republican who says Romney is going to have to release more information or the issue will remain alive.
The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza notes that Barack Obama would have to make history again if he’s re-elected with such dismal job numbers:
The rate over the first seven months of 2012 has been remarkably consistent; it’s never been above 8.3 percent or below 8.1 percent. That steadiness speaks to the fact that it simply won’t drop in any precipitous way in the near or even medium term — a fact the Federal Reserve’s policy committee acknowledged in a statement earlier this week.
Just for kicks, we asked the folks at Hamilton Place Strategies, a Republican economic consulting firm, to project how many jobs the economy would need to add in each of the next three months for the unemployment rate to get underneath eight percent. The answer? 279,000 jobs a month, a total that even in the best month of 2012 — January when 275,000 jobs were created — the economy didn’t reach.
With even the most optimistic Democrats admitting that such sustained job growth is simply not going to happen, the question now is how/whether the country’s first black president can again make history by winning a second term amid record-high unemployment in the country.
The model for Obama in this quest is Republican Ronald Reagan who set the modern mark when he cruised to re-election in 1984 despite an unemployment rate of 7.2 percent.
But, that comparison is inexact due the difference in trend lines for Reagan and Obama on the unemployment rate.
So it’s clear that:
And it is worth noting again: by using the word “liar” if something negative does emerge, it’s safe to say that Mitt Romney is political toast.’