Romney Returns But Can't Escape Controversy
In a Huffington Post interview, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed that a Bain Capital investor informed him that Romney had not paid federal income taxes for 10 years. The former Massachusetts governor's campaign fired back against Reid's accusation, but the Nevada Democrat repeated it on the Senate floor Thursday, saying "the burden should be on [Romney]" to disprove his allegation.
While the war of words went on in Washington, Romney was campaigning in Colorado, giving a speech focusing on economic policy. As Businessweek reports, Romney claimed that Obama has failed to deliver on promises he made while running four years ago, and that as the former CEO of Bain Capital, he "understand[s] what it takes to get America working again."
Romney certainly welcomed the opportunity to discuss matters of business and economic policy after clumsily wading into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by first implying that Israeli culture is superior to Palestinian culture, then denying the implication, and finally doubling down on his theory with a National Review op-ed. Embarrassingly for Romney, the author of one of the books he cited in his unsolicited culture argument rebuked the governor's interpretation and insiniuated that he did not really understand the point of the book.
President Obama spent the first part of Thursday in Florida, before heading to Northern Virginia for an evening event. At an appearance in suburban Orlando, the president repeated his latest campaign message that Romney is trying to give people like himself an unfair advantage. As the Businessweek article reports:
"'They have tried to sell us this trickle down fairy dust before,' Obama said at Rollins College in Winter Park. 'He’s asking you to pay more so that people like him can pay less. So that people like me pay less.'"
Florida has been a swing state in the past several presidential elections, but until Obama captured Virginia in 2008, the last Democrat to win the state was Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Both states appear to be almost toss-ups based on polling, and winning one or both early could put Romney at a tremendous electoral disadvantage while the West Coast is still voting.
By keeping the economic conversation focused on taxes and particularly tax fairness, Obama can maintain a certain level of pressure on Romney to disclose more, without making direct and unsupported accusations like Sen. Reid. In the absence of further foreign trips by Romney, a message that frames Romney as out of the mainstream and someone who can game the system looks to be the preferred strategy for the Obama campaign.
See more of Neon Tommy's coverage of Mitt Romney here.
Reach Executive Producer Matt Pressberg here.