Election 2012 – Framing the context and the contest


In light of the Bain Capital affair and his appearance at the NAACP, Mr. Romney seems to be suffering a severe credibility gap.

Mr. Romney’s series of interviews merely served to raise more questions than they answered. When did he really relinquish all his business ties to Bain Capital? Instead of explaining that the process was gradual, with him going on leave in February of 1999 and finalizing his departure in August of 2001, he insisted he had nothing to do with the company after February of 1999 and didn’t recall being back after that date. Previous interviews indicate that he attended board meetings after that date. Lies? Falso SEC statements? Gaps in memory? I don’t know. But what I do know is that most people perceive politicians to be dishonest to begin with, so if you’re telling the truth and people think you’re lying – you have a problem, and this is one I’m not convinced will be fixed by November 6, 2012.

It’s one thing to stick to your guns while appearing before a hostile audience and another to later insinuate that the audience booed you because they are simply minorities who are looking for government handouts. Similarly, to suggest that government sponsored birth control is just more “free stuff” that he’d never approve of, doesn’t help define his plan for tackling unwanted pregnancies, if he has one. In short, Mr. Romney begs the question “Can he represent all Americans if he can’t relate well to people of a different ethnic,philosophical, or religious background than his own?”

Neither Mr. Romney nor his team seem to get it. It’s not just about the scandal in politics, it’s about how you handle a scandal that sticks in people’s minds. Just ask Bill Clinton. Few people cared about him having oral sex with Monica Lewinsky, but many cared that he lied about it even after being caught, this writer included.

I think the Democrats are in an excellent position to frame this contest in terms of “Well, we know that Barack Obama isn’t perfect, but…is Mitt Romney really so much better?”.  Of course, many other questions could be raised, chief of which is “Can we really trust Mitt Romney?” As long as the Democrats get enough people to answer “NO.” then I think Mr. Obama will get another four years in the White House.

Good discussion on July 15, 2012 about the potential impact of Bain Capital & Tax Returns:

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/07/george-will-matthew-dowd-blast-romney-for-not-releasing-tax-returns/

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