Much as I love the thought of SEC cops hustling Mitt Romney away for lying on his SEC disclosures from 1999-2002 (or, perhaps, the FBI for Mitt lying on his 2011 financial disclosures), I fear I will not see that day.
But Mitt Romney’s real problem – and believe me, it’s a real problem – is not just that he has sworn separately that he was and was not the CEO of Bain Capital from 1999 to 2002, during which time he received a handsome salary to manage/not manage the business he was/was not running. Although that’s bad enough.
It’s not just that the $100,000 a year he was getting from Bain during the period in question is a lot of scratch for someone who wasn’t actually working for the company (even though, as salaries for CEO jobs go, it’s a pittance), although that doesn’t help him much.
It’s not even that this fits so well with the narrative of Mitt Romney wanting to have it both ways when it’s just too gosh-darn hard to make a choice. Mitt Romney, quantum candidate: both and neither active and inactive, for and against health care reform, pro choice and pro-life…he is both and neither of those things until he is asked.
It’s that, as a presidential candidate, you want a simple story to tell.
Romney’s is supposed to be that, as a massively successful businessman, he knows how to get America moving again. He’s a little hampered beyond that because his signature achievement of governance is what, on a national level, he now condemns with every fiber of his invertebrate body. Which is why he talked a lot about Bain during the primaries. (And why it’s more than silly for his campaign to suggest that Bain is off-limits. Not to mention that is sounds, well, weak.)
Now he’s being thrown off course by questions about whether he was running Bain when it was investing in outsourcing pioneers, or investing in a company that disposed of aborted fetuses. He desperately want to have been not running Bain when the worst of all this was happening, but he did actually testify that he had an active role in Bain during the period in question, when he needed to convince Massachusetts election officials to qualify him for the gubernatorial ballot in 2002.
Here’s how bad this is for Mitt: he’s talking to a whole bunch of reporters tonight. And you know how much he hates that.
I don’t think this is a fatal blow to Mitt – there’s a whole world out there that can cause Barack Obama pain between now and November – but this is when he should be pummeling his opponent, not stammering over his own record.
UPDATE: Mitt, this will not help. Especially when you said the opposite thing back in 2002.