Romney Campaign Sends in the Clowns…er…Attack Dogs

You have to hand it to Harry Reid. He has put Mitt Romney in a corner that he can’t get out of. As long as Reid doesn’t back down–and so far he hasn’t–Romney is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. If Mitt gives in and releases his tax returns for the past ten years, the media and the Obama campaign will tear them apart to find out what he’s hiding. If Mitt continues to stonewall the speculation will continue to grow and overwhelm his campaign and the upcoming Republican Convention.

Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake wrote about Romney’s “Harry Reid Problem” this morning.

At its root, the problem for Romney on this matter is that he and Reid are simply not playing by the same set of rules. Here’s why.

1. Reid isn’t up for re-election until 2016 (if he even decides to run again, since he will be 76 years old that year). 2. His allegation against Romney only strengthens his hand among his Democratic colleagues — in and out of the Senate. 3. He’s not running for president and, therefore, isn’t subject to the same sort of transparency demands that Romney is. 4. He’s far less well-known than Romney, meaning that by engaging Reid, the Republican presidential nominee is punching down in a big way.

“He’s fearless and shameless,” said Jon Ralston, the leading political journalist in the state of Nevada and a man who has watched Reid’s career closely. “The most dangerous man is one who does not care.”

The shaming of Reid, which is clearly what Republicans — Romney included — are now set on doing, then, likely won’t work. Several close Reid allies insist he simply will never reveal the alleged source of the Romney tax information and, they argue, politically speaking he won’t ever have to, since the allegation — as we noted above — does little harm to Reid’s political career.

In politics, a charge unanswered is a charge believed. It’s why Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry’s (D) slow response to charges regarding his service in Vietnam — allegations Kerry clearly believed were beneath contempt — wound up playing a major role in his defeat in the 2004 presidential election.

“I just believe that this hurts Romney more,” said one senior Republican strategist who follows Nevada politics closely. “If he doesn’t produce his tax returns, this will probably continue. If he finally relents, then Reid just says ‘thank you.’”

So far, the Romney campaign response to Reid’s accusations has not been impressive. Yesterday, Reid’s accusation was the talk of the Sunday shows. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus called Reid a “dirty liar,” and this morning he said he’s not a bit regretful.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said Monday he would “triple down” on his charge that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is a “dirty liar” and said the GOP won’t allow Democrats to “manufacture stories” and “steal an election.”

“There’s no triple down in blackjack, but I’ll triple down on my comments yesterday,” Priebus said on “Fox & Friends,” referring to the epithet he first leveled Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

“It’s amazing to me that there can be any honor in a position that he holds, that he’s degraded so far down the tubes, Priebus continued. “It is what it is. He’s a dirty liar, and we’re moving on.”

Reince might be moving on, but no one else is. Yesterday, Lindsey Graham said that Reid is “making things up.”

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham strongly took issue with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s accusations that Mitt Romney has not paid taxes in 10 years, saying Sunday that the Democratic leader was “lying.”

“What he did on the floor of the Senate is so out of bounds. I think he’s lying about his statement, of knowing something about Romney,” Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Oddly, the one person who knows for sure what is in Romney’s tax returns didn’t turn up on the Sunday Shows this week–how often does that happen? John McCain got 23 years of Romney’s tax returns during the VP vetting process in 2008. Either McCain or some of his advisers know what’s in there.

So why isn’t McCain standing up and saying, “I saw Romney tax returns and he paid substantial amounts of federal income taxes in every year we looked at”? McCain did join his colleagues on the fainting couch last week, but only to give a weak rejoinder, saying “Reid may have ‘gone over the line.'” Why isn’t he defending the man who will be the Republican Party’s nominee?

Could it be that McCain doesn’t want to get caught in a lie if Romney is eventually forced to the secrets of his tax returns?

This morning Romney released his nastiest attack dog. John Sununu told Politico:

“Look, Harry Reid is a bumbling Senate leader,” the former New Hampshire governor said Monday on Fox News. “He hasn’t been able to pass a budget, he hasn’t been able to do anything about entitlement reform, he’s done nothing worthwhile except the bidding of the Obama administration. They have pointed out that Harry is lying, and the public is beginning to understand that Harry is lying.”

Sorry John, what the public is beginning to understand is that Mitt Romney is a lying tax evader. More whining from Sununu:

“It’s not Harry Reid, it’s President Obama and the Obama campaign doing what they always do,” he said. “The Obama campaign and President Obama are the ones that are behind this dishonesty and misrepresentation because they are trying to hide the failure of this abysmal presidency that we have had in office the last four years.”

He added: “It is, in my opinion, eroding the only asset he ever had, and that was a general, likable feeling that the public had toward him.”

The interesting thing is that all of these Romney defenders are doing the same thing they’re accusing Harry Reid of doing. They have no idea what’s in Romney’s tax returns or who, if anyone, told Reid that Romney didn’t pay federal income taxes for a decade. Only one of these guys knows for sure what’s in those returns, and John McCain isn’t talking–unless he’s the one who whispered in Harry Reid’s ear.

27 Comments on “Romney Campaign Sends in the Clowns…er…Attack Dogs”

  1. Beata says:

    My tinfoil hat theory: Reid has a LDS source who knows about Mitt Shady’s tax returns.

    I’m getting a big kick out of this.

    • northwestrain says:

      I wonder if he paid the LDS the proper tithe ?

      • dakinikat says:

        Did you see my link to empty wheel and her discussion about how a lot of Mormon’s discuss if the tithe should be before or after taxes and gossip about that?

      • bostonboomer says:

        I saw it. I’ll bet Harry Reid’s dislike of Romney has something to do with Mormonism.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I read somewhere, it could have been Cannon, that it might have come from Jon Huntsman.

        I think Reid has an authentic source from inside the Mormon inner circle that has longstanding business ties to Bain. Without a doubt someone, other than Mitt, knows the truth of Romney’s taxes and his investments and if that cat gets out of the bag it could get ugly.

      • peggysue22 says:

        Mouse is correct. Joe Cannon had an interesting argument that the ‘source’ could, in fact, be Jon Huntsman [someone I might have considered voting for had he nabbed the GOP nomination]. But Romney? Not in a million years with all the pandering to the worst elements in the Republican party.

        As for Reid? I have to give him credit. He is truly sticking his thumb in the Mittster’s eye. And the fact that McCain has not come out to fully defend Romney is beyond curious and highly suspicious. McCain and his people have actually seen these returns. So, where is the full-throated defense?? Saying “Reid may have gone over the line” is weak at best.

        The circus is just getting started!

        Good roundup, BB.

      • Peggy it is so f*cking good to see you!

      • ANonOMouse says:

        PeggySue……it’s so good to read your words again. Also glad you confirmed that it was Joe Cannon who was speculating that Huntsman might be the source of Reid’s info. If I remember correctly Joe offered some info to support that there is no love between Hunstman and Romney. That would sure explain why Huntsman lashed out at him during the debates. I too like Jon Huntsman, but he had no chance of winning the nomination of the GOP/TP, he’s too sane. Which explains why we like him. 🙂

      • bostonboomer says:

        It’s so great to see you Peggy Sue! Joe Cannon’s piece was great.

      • northwestrain says:

        Dak — yes I did see your note about Emptywheel & her first hand experience from working in Utah. they gossip — one topic would be Romney’s checks to the church.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Me too, Beata. I’m loving it!

    • Beata says:

      I’m just trying to connect the dots here. Outside Romney’s inner circle, who would know about his tax returns? The McCain campaign and probably the LDS church. Reid has access to McCain through the Senate and Reid is also an important member of the LDS church. So both are possibilities. We know McCain can’t stand Mitt, and I bet Romney, with his knack for making friends wherever he goes, has lots of secret enemies within the church.

      • bostonboomer says:

        McCain is also friends with John Kerry, who was a Bain investor and probably can’t stand Romney.

    • peggysue22 says:

      Hey, JJ. I came out of the shadows tonight :0).

      And you must have been reading my mind–I was just checking for any news on Curiosity. I love this stuff. It is beyond cool and the technology required is mind-boggling. Just to land that sucker was a major, major feat. These are the victories that make me proud to be an American. It’s like JFK all over again. I tip my hat to NASA! What an extraordinary, unbelievable success. Makes my heart go pitter-patter. When I was a kid I thought we’d have people on Mars by this time. Still, this is no small thing! Way to go.

      Take care.

  2. ricky says:

    What is he hiding ? Show the returns ! Who is the LIAR ?

    • bostonboomer says:

      Whatever he’s hiding, it has to be pretty bad for him to risk this stonewall strategy. He must think if he released the returns, his candidacy would be over.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Chris Matthews says the word is Obama is fed up with Romney–that he really hates the guy. That could be bad for Romney, because Obama can be really ruthless, as we learned in 2008.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    From Bloomberg – Romney Persona Non Grata in Italy For Bain’s Deal Skirting Taxes

    That’s because Bain Capital, under Romney as chief executive officer, made about $1 billion in a leveraged buyout 12 years ago that remains controversial in Italy to this day. Bain was part of a group that bought a telephone-directory company from the Italian government and then sold it about two years later, at the peak of the technology bubble, for about 25 times what it paid.

    Bain funneled profits through subsidiaries in Luxembourg, a common corporate strategy for avoiding income taxes in other European countries, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg News. The buyer, Italy’s biggest telephone company, now has a total market value less than what it paid Bain and other investors for the directory business.

    In Italy, the deals have spurred at least three books, separate legal and regulatory probes and newspaper columns alleging investors made a fortune at the expense of Italian taxpayers. Boston-based Bain wasn’t a subject of the inquiries, which didn’t result in any charges.

    The sale of the government’s directory business is “a dark chapter in the country’s privatization history, one that has hurt Italians deeply,” said Bernardo Bortolotti, an economics professor at Turin University who advised the Italian Treasury on asset sales from 2002 through 2005. “It was a mistake from the start, damaged by a lack of transparency and the use of offshore funds.”

  5. Okay, this is OT, big time OT but I just saw it in a link I put up on the other post. Now…knowing what we know about the dude who pees in the pool…this just makes me cringe:

  6. List of X says:

    I think both Romney and Reid are stuck in a corner now. Except Reid can afford stay in his corner for years, while Romney has to get out. Unfortunately, Reid’s behavior reminds me of Trump’s 2011 demands for Obama to release his birth certificate, so let’s just hope Reid is right.