Romney's horrible, no-good, very bad week

Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2012 in Politics

Romney's horrible, no-good, very bad week

by Gina Hamilton

Well, there's always Australia.

The first batch of presidential polling numbers are out after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act, and the numbers don't look too good for former Gov. Mitt Romney, who has been off-message since last Wednesday, when the NAACP booed him when he said he would rescind it.

Nationally, President Obama is running ahead of Romney in almost all national polls except Rasmussen, which tends to skew to the right, and known partisan polls like the Washington Times poll. 

But his numbers are even stronger in the states where he must win.

Obama is ahead in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Nevada and Colorado. He is also ahead in Wisconsin, and most polls have him ahead in Florida, although the margin is razor-thin in that pivotal state. 

Nothing dramatically great has happened to the economy; indeed, the employment numbers have been disappointing and consumer spending is down. So why is Romney struggling so to get his message out?

Perhaps it's because he isn't sure exactly which version of his message to offer.

In Romney's single term as Massachusetts governor (2003-2007), he enacted what would become the boilerplate for the Affordable Care Act, forcing people to purchase health insurance if they fell within certain income guidelines. Since he began his run for president, he's been backing away from that plan in a major way.

Romney probably thought that he could use the bad reception he got at the NAACP meeting to highlight the differences between people who want to work for a living and those who "want to get free stuff," as he put it. If that was the Republicans' rather nefarious plan, however, it backfired utterly.

On the same day, the Boston Globe released some records that seemed to suggest (well, actually proved) that what Romney was telling voters ... that he left Bain Capital in February 1999 and never returned in any way ... was untrue. As late as December of 2002, he was turning paperwork in that stated clearly he was the managing director of the firm. 

The Obama campaign pounced quickly. Bain Capital, which was supposed to be Romney's proof that he could be a "job creator," outsourced thousands of American jobs between 1999 and 2002, and while Romney was off at the Olympics, the company he owned, as sole shareholder, and served as president and CEO, was quietly adding to the unemployment crisis. 

On Sunday, Romney's team, in the person of Ed Gillespie, who usually is a little smarter than this, claimed that actually Romney had a "retroactive retirement" dating from 1999. The blogosphere and pundits at home howled with laughter, while those who had to keep a straight face were, to say the least, bewildered. 

Romney also has a tax problem. He has firmly refused to release tax data from the years in question or any year before 2010, despite his own father's precedent of providing 12 years of tax returns. During those years, Romney is known to have sheltered income overseas, held it in Swiss and Caribbean bank accounts and shell companies, and more. It is difficult to understand what new and damaging information Romney believes is there, but even Republicans are encouraging him to take the hit and get it over with.

Whatever the truth is that ultimately will be found behind Romney's tax-liability problem, the seemingly opaque nature of his campaign is clearly having an effect on his candidacy. The next polling cycle is due out in a day or two, and will cover Sunday's events. Will the polls move in Romney's favor or cause him greater discomfort?

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