With a primary strategy focused on winning New Hampshire, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is set to pick up the endorsement of GOP Rep. Charlie Bass on Monday, but an internal campaign memo points up the potential downside of associating closely with the veteran congressman — his lack of purity on tax increases.
“Note that as we’re touting Charlie’s fiscal bona fides, he was one of 40 House Republicans to sign off on the letter to the super committee a few weeks ago saying they are open to revenue increases,” says the e-mail from Jim Merrill, Romney’s top New Hampshire strategist. “He says he means through eliminating loopholes or simplifying the tax code, but conservatives don’t trust Charlie and are guessing this means he’ll vote to raise taxes. No way to avoid it — it’s part of the Charlie package. I'm sure it’ll come up.”
Merrill’s e-mail was distributed late on Saturday to senior staff; a copy was obtained by a National Journal/CBS News reporter.
The former Massachusetts governor has reason to be concerned. Romney's own conservative credentials are suspect among right wing voters, and he has struggled to break the 25-percent mark in most recent national polls as a consequence. But Romney has said on the stump that he opposes raising taxes to achieve the savings needed to avoid automatic spending cuts set to go into effect if a congressional super committee fails to come up with a plan.
Romney’s campaign sent out a statement early on Monday naming Bass as cochairman of its New Hampshire Steering Committee and lauding him as a House member who “has stood up for the traditional New Hampshire principles of limited taxation and smaller government.”
The statement says that “Congressman Bass understands that the current over-taxation and over-spending in Washington will only continue to hurt job creators. With his support, I hope to reverse the failed Obama fiscal policies that have hampered job creation and put a halt to economic growth.”
Bass was elected to his seat in New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District in 2010, after previously having represented the district from 1995 to 2007. He has also served in both the New Hampshire House and Senate, and is the son of a former New Hampshire congressman.
Romney on Sunday picked up the endorsement of Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. Other notable New Hampshire politicians who are backing his campaign include two former governors, John Sununu and Judd Gregg.