The Real Romney/Bain Trap
Brad DeLong FTW:
In 2002 Mitt Romney decided that he had retired from Bain in 1999.
Yes, you read that correctly. When Mitt Romney took over the Salt Lake City Olympics in February 1999, he intended to come back and run Bain Capital full-time afterwards–and he wanted to make sure that everybody at Bain Capital knew that he was still the boss, that he would be coming back full-time, that nobody should try to take his seat while he was in Salt Lake City, and that everybody should be careful to make sure that their actions were things Romney approved of.
Come 2002, Mitt Romney decided that he was going to run for Governor of Massachusetts. So come 2002 Romney decides that he had retired from Bain Capital back in 1999. Yes. As Glenn Kessler says: “when Romney decided to run for governor in 2002, he received a retirement package that was dated Feb., 1999”.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the Obama campaign’s plan all along. It was always a crapshoot whether voters were going to buy Obama’s argument that “Romney=capitalist=bad” over Romney’s argument that “Obama=economy=bad.” But polls consistently show that whatever voters feel about Romney’s economic credentials, they just flat out don’t trust the guy. That goes double for every conservative who voted for Santorum, or, god help them, Gingrich in the GOP primaries because they thought Romney was a say-anything-to-get-elected-type who would sell them out in the general.
And here we have Romney trying to claim in 2012 that in 2002 he really retired in 1999. It doesn’t matter at this point what he was retiring from or what he’s avoiding responsibility of: the fact that he’s so blatantly trying to wiggle out of documented reality tells undecided voters everything they need to know. Screw Bain Capital: this is why Romney’s favorable ratings refuse to crest the mid-30s: because in 2005 he claimed that in 1994 he was pro-life when he was really pro-choice, and in June he says he’s for immigration policies he was against in January, and so on. This “I really retired in 1999” line confirms everything everybody’s feared about Romney since day one.
Remember my (actually Weigel’s) theory that, for all the awful things Citizens United is doing to our elections, compelling narratives don’t need much money. The gentlemen of the Swift Boat effort required little monetary backing to sink John Kerry’s campaign. So the fact that Obama’s Priorities USA is being out-fundraised a dillion to one doesn’t matter much at this point: for a pittance, Priorities USA can use one ad and a couple of fact checkers to make Romney squirm on command. He’s become the electoral equivalent of a cheap date.