Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may have no proof to support his allegation that Mitt Romney hasn't paid any taxes in the past 10 years -- but he's pressing the attack anyway, using one of the oldest political tactics around to tar the Republican candidate.
And much to Romney's chagrin, the trick seems to be working. Reid's focus on Romney's taxes dominated the day, even as the candidate frantically attempts to refocus the election on the economy. He announced a nebulous "Plan for a Stronger Middle Class," with planks like "give every family access to a great school and quality teachers” and "reduce taxes on job creation through individual and corporate tax reform." And at a campaign stop, he released a Presidential Accountability Scorecard, which he'll be using to attack President Obama.
Despite the effort, this marks the third week in a row that control over his messaging slipped from Romney’s grip. First, his retirement date from Bain Capital led the news. Then, it was the multiple gaffes that Romney made while abroad. Now, it’s his taxes.
Of course, the announcement of his running mate, likely to come in the next two weeks, will change the conversation. But with less than 100 days to go before the election, and many undecided voters still undecided, Romney can no longer afford to lose control of microphone and message for such extended blocks of time.
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
For Undecided Voters, It’s the Devil-You-Know Election
[National Journal, 8/2/12] During two focus groups conducted this week, undecided voters wrestled with the choice ahead of them: the devil they know versus the devil they don’t.
Mitt Romney's Comeback Plan
[Buzzfeed, 8/2/12] The summer's been rough for the Romney campaign, but they're hoping the buzz around his VP pick and the convention bounce will erase any damage done by talk of Bain Capital, tax returns, and missteps abroad. The campaign also plans to change the narrative with an economic message more focused on specifics.
'Make the S.O.B. Deny It'
[National Journal, 8/2/12] Late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson wrote that when Lyndon Johnson once needed to slow down a foe's momentum, LBJ ordered an aide to spread the rumor that the opponent was "enjoying carnal knowledge of his own barnyard sows." Now Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has joined the list of those trying that tactic on the subject of Romney's tax returns. If rumors that Romney has something to hide aren't true, asks the Nevada Democrat, then why won't Romney make them public?
Lost on the Campaign Trail: A Real Jobs Debate
[National Journal, 8/2/12] Looking to Friday’s jobs report, what's missing in the presidential "jobs" debate is any real discussion of why the last 12 years have been such a disaster for the U.S. job market. What America should be hearing from the campaign trail, and particularly every Jobs Day, is a diagnosis of what changed in the last 12 years- Obama and Romney should be telling us what they’ve learned.
Harry Reid Doubles Down on Romney Taxes; Romney Campaign Responds
[Washington Post, 8/2/12] Reid is not backing down on his insistence that that Romney paid no income taxes for several years, saying he has heard that from multiple anonymous sources. The Romney campaign has unequivocally denied the charges and compared Reid to Joseph McCarthy.
Rove, Gillespie Hosting Joint Political Briefing in Aspen
[CNN, 8/2/12] Karl Rove, the head of the American Crossroads super PAC, and Romney adviser Ed Gillespie are holding a joint closed-door political briefing with leading GOP donors on Thursday — despite federal election laws prohibiting coordination between campaigns and outside groups.
Romney Spokesman Suggests Obama Campaign Manager Broke the Law
[BuzzFeed, 8/2/12] In a conference call with reporters, Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom stopped just short of calling Obama campaign manager Jim Messina a criminal. Discussing the latest controversy surrounding the use of personal e-mail accounts to conduct White House business, Fehrnstrom said in part, “On its face, this appears to be a violation of the law.”
On the Heels of Rocky Foreign Tour, Romney Looks Forward
[CBS, 8/2/12] Back in the U.S. after last week’s rocky foreign tour, Romney is heading to Colorado on Thursday to kick off an apparent battleground-state offensive. Both candidates are doubling efforts to raise money and woo voters, particularly in a handful of crucial swing states.
Romney’s CEO Style Rankled Mass. Lawmakers
[Associated Press, 8/2/12] Romney’s top-down corporate management style during his tenure as Massachusetts governor rankled Democrats who overwhelmingly controlled the state House and Senate. Unlike his three GOP predecessors, the politically inexperienced Romney was never at ease in the world of trading favors for votes. How will that translate if he wins the presidency?
Obama Brings 'Middle Class' Tour to Nation’s Richest County
[National Journal, 8/2/12] Obama is bringing his “middle-class tax relief” tour on Thursday to Leesburg, Va., which, National Journal’s Beth Reinhard points out, sits in the richest county in the U.S. It’s a safe bet that Obama’s plan would actually hike taxes for many households there.
Adviser Draws Attention to Romney’s Mideast Policy
[New York Times, 8/1/12] Dan Senor’s presence in the tight orbit of advisers around the candidate foreshadows a Romney foreign policy that could take a harder line against Iran, embrace Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and move away from being the honest broker in the conflict with the Palestinians.
Veepstakes: What If Romney Rolled the Dice?
[Politico, 8/2/12] A wild-card choice is a sign that the campaign is worried about its chances in November. But coming off the bad press from his gaffe-marked foreign trip, Romney needs a VP selection that not only goes smoothly but dominates the narrative — and one way to ensure that is to pick a running mate who’s off the beaten path. Politico explores his options.
Auto Bailout Helps Obama Hold Consistent Lead in Ohio
[The Hill, 8/2/12] In one of the most critical battleground states, Obama holds a small but significant lead that experts credit to his support for the auto bailout and strategy of appealing to blue-collar workers.