For months and months, the media have been chanting about the lack of specifics in the policy prescriptions of the Mitt Romney campaign. The detail deficit has even been cited as a reason why the 2012 presidential campaign has a small-time feel.
In his “60 Minutes” interview with Romney, CBS’s Scott Pelley demonstrates how to lay the accountability on a candidate. Doggedly, that is.
In the segment, Pelley allows Romney to outline the broad strokes of his tax policy — cutting rates while killing exemptions and deductions. Then Pelley narrates, “We asked him exactly which tax deductions and exemptions he intended to eliminate.” That’s when the chase begins:
Romney: Well, that’s something Congress and I will have to work out together. My experience as governor —
Pelley: You’re asking the American people to hire you as president of the United States. They’d like to hear some specifics.
Romney: Well, I can tell them specifically what my policy looks like. I will not raise taxes on middle income folks. I will not lower the share of taxes paid by high-income individuals. And I will make sure that we bring down rates, we limit deductions and exemptions so we keep the progressivity in the code and we encourage growth in jobs.
Pelley: The devil’s in the details, though. What are we talking about — mortgage deduction, the charitable deduction?
Romney: The devil’s in the details; the angel is in the policy, which is creating more jobs.
Pelley: You have heard the criticism, I’m sure, that your campaign can be vague about some things, and I wonder if this isn’t precisely one of those things.
Romney: It’s very much consistent with my experience as a governor. Which is if you want to work together with people across the aisle, you lay out your principles and your policy, you work together with them but you don’t hand them a complete document and say take it or leave it. Leadership is not a take it or leave it thing; there’s too much of that in Washington.
Yes, Romney has heard that criticism before, which explains why he’s so effective at answering it.