The Obama campaign and Democrats see the revelations about Mitt Romney’s offshoring as a boost to their central case: That Romney is the walking embodiment of the reckless, unfettered, profits-at-all costs capitalism that caused the crisis and helped rig the economy against the middle class, in favor of the rich.
They will argue that Romney’s private sector conduct is a preview of the priorities, philosophy and view of capitalism that he’d bring to the presidency.
On a conference call with liberal bloggers just now, Obama campaign officials sketched out the case they’ll be making about Romney’s Bain days, his offshoring, and his refusal to release tax returns.
“If you want to be president of the United States, what you do matters,” the official said. “Mitt Romney not only has been partaking of these policies, he still favors them.” The official added that Romney personally embodies the “speculation and risky dealmaking” that helped cause the meltdown and has badly damaged the middle class’s security.
The campaign will also use Romney’s refusal to release tax returns — which could contain more revelations about his offshoring — in order to advance their other primary argument: That Romney is in some basic way not being forthcoming about who he is.
“Why doesn’t Mitt Romney just come out with all of this?” the official said. “Why doesn’t he just tell voters in South Carolina, Florida and other primary states exactly what he’s been paying in taxes and what his investments are? It’s clear he doesn’t want the American people to see these things.”
Pushed on whether Romney’s counterargument — that these criticisms constitute putting capitalism and free enterprise on trial — could have resonance with swing voters, the official suggested the Obama campaign would aggressively rebut it.
“I don’t think that’s how most Americans view free enterprise,”the official said. “It’s a crappy defense to cover up his business practices... We’re not putting free enterprise on trial. We’re putting Mitt Romney on trial. Because Mitt Romney put this on trial.”
Despite Romney’s rough week, it still seems clear he’s the strongest GOP general election candidate. And he could still prove a very formidable general election foe. But one really has to wonder whether the events of the last week — which dovetail so perfectly with the Dem strategy of painting Romney as the candidate of the one percent, and make him look completely out of step with this political and economic moment — have given Romney backers any pause at all about his electability.