Bain Barrage Worries Republicans

On the facts, nothing terribly new was added to the Bain equation by the Boston Globe story charging that Mitt Romney controlled the company for three years longer than he previously claimed. Several fact-checking organizations said the charges aren’t exactly breaking news and Romney’s denials have some validity.

The problem for the Romney campaign, when it comes to the Bain issue, is that things are reaching the point where the facts don’t really matter. The bigger problem is that the Bain cloud now hanging over the former Massachusetts governor is growing daily, and the Romney campaign still hasn’t found a compelling way to respond to what’s becoming the driving narrative, fairly or unfairly, of the 2012 campaign.

President Barack Obama and Democrats say Bain’s companies, and by extension Romney, laid off workers and outsourced jobs, shipping them overseas. But many of those acts happened after 1999, when Romney says he wasn’t responsible because he was no longer truly running Bain. But the Globe report showing Romney linked to the private equity firm as late as 2002 could contradict those claims, at least in the eyes of voters.

Romney’s business experience is his strongest selling point as he frequently argues his time in the private sector makes him more qualified than Obama to fix the economy. The Democratic attacks are starting to get labeled as the equivalent of the “Swift Boat” offensive that sunk John Kerry’s presidential campaign over his Vietnam war record.

Romney is violating a basic rule of politics, GOP strategist Ford O’Connell warns: Define yourself before your opponent does it for you.

“He needs to get out ahead of this and put this issue to rest before it becomes a major distraction,” O’Connell said. “He has yet to do it and if he doesn’t do it, Obama is going to do it for him.”

Not answering has the potential to eat away at Romney’s support in swing states.

“We’re starting to see evidence in some of the battleground states that this is working in the favor of the president,” O’Connell said. “There are only so many more of these chinks in the armor Romney can take.”

Banking on voters casting their ballots against Obama without Romney providing his own vision or plan is a “fool’s errand,” O’Connell said. “The key for Romney is to define himself and provide a bold, clear vision for the future,” he said.

Read more from Ginger Gibson at Politico

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published this page in In The News 2012-07-12 22:30:00 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy