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Posted at 09:42 AM ET, 07/16/2012

Romney's Bain strategy

There is a term political media consultants use to shorthand the strategy to respond to negative attacks. It's called "KKK" and stands for "characterize, counter, kill." You might notice that all campaign responses to an attack follow this rule. First, you might claim the attack is dirty, desperate politics, hopefully quoting some "independent" third party for verification. Then you counter the attack with your own set of facts, and then, this is most important, you launch some new charge of your own.

This is what Mitt Romney is trying to do with the charge that he favored foreign workers over Americans while head of Bain Capital. In a network roadblock of interviews, he characterized the Obama campaign charge as beneath the dignity of the presidency; then he countered by explaining the apparent discrepancy about when he stepped down as Bain CEO by saying that he became an owner, not an operator, of Bain after 1999.  Finally, his "kill" was the claim that Obama is making these outrageous claims to distract from his poor record on the economy.

Romney's KKK is really lame. The most definitive part of his response is the least important: his characterization of the attack. His counter is almost unintelligible. Here's what he said, according to the New York Times, to explain how his role at Bain changed in 1999 and why he no longer had responsibility for shipping jobs overseas: "I was the owner of an entity which was a management entity. That entity was one which I had ownership of until the time of the retirement program was put in place. But I had no responsibility whatever for the management or ownership — management, rather, of Bain Capital." If Romney can't keep straight in his own mind the difference between ownership and management, how can the rest of us?

Finally, Romney's counter-charge that Obama is trying to distract voters from focusing on the economy, while true, is hardly powerful enough to redirect the political posse that is now chasing him. The economy, to use the phrase of the second decade of the 21st century, "is what it is." It may well decide the election, but opinions about it are locked in. In a sense, it is old news, but the Bain plot is fresh and keeps thickening.

By  |  09:42 AM ET, 07/16/2012

 
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