Obama’s Major Bain Capital Mistake
July 17, 2012 36 Comments
We’ve now entered the second week of Romney is a felon coverage in the Presidential race. The Obama campaign is clearly controlling the media narrative at this point. Hardly surprising considering the media’s support for the President. The notion that Romney is a felon is almost laughably absurd. Yet Obama is running with it and has done an admirable job of controlling the media narrative and getting Romney off the subject of the economy and Obamacare. It begs the question why Obama is doing this in July and not October.
What is clear is that he left Bain in 1999 to run the Salt Lake Olympics. Bain is a complex partnership wherein at his departure Romney remained as CEO of the managing group. He didn’t manage Bain or its investments though, as has been clearly stated by even Obama supporting Bain executives. So what’s going on here? The Salt Lake Olympics were held in 2002. It’s fairly obvious that Romney’s original intent in 1999 was to return to Bain after the 2002 Olympics. Thus he stays on as technical head of Bain even though he had no managerial power with the intent on returning after the games. Ultimately he changed his mind and ran for Governor of Massachusetts instead which likely precipitated a full break.
Why this matters to anyone is a legitimate question. Who cares whether Romney left Bain in 1999 or 2002? Especially so when there is no evidence that Romney ever held himself out as a manager of investments after he left in 1999. No one has been duped, no one has been misled. So why should voters care? Obama believes in the Chicago way of campaigning, which requires the complete personal destruction of an opponent. Obama believes that in order to win he has to completely destroy Romney. If that means insinuating he’s a felon without any evidence, so be it.
The question though is why is this coming out in July? This seems like the sort of distraction that would suit mid-October much better. Perhaps Obama believes he would be in a better position if he can define Romney as a felon and/or shady dealer now before the country is fully introduced to him at the Convention, debates and general election campaigning. Or perhaps the Obama campaign believes it has something even more scandalous (false or otherwise) to release in October that the Romney, Bain and felony discussion will be rendered irrelevant.
It’s possible the Obama team has badly miscalculated here by choosing July over October. Maybe they believed this story was nonsense and didn’t realize that it would become a media sensation, in which case they miscalculated badly. By the time October rolls around people who have decided Romney isn’t a felon aren’t going to be swayed by more felony talk. Less people are paying full attention in July but everyone has heard about this story by now. Thus, even for those who aren’t paying attention much this story will be old news in October and thus Romney will be immune from attack.
It’s one thing for Obama to spend the time between Romney’s primary victory and the Conventions trying to define the GOP opponent. You do that by spending months calling him a callous capitalist with no plan and no solution. You don’t waste your time on hard hitting personal attacks, it’s just not necessary yet because you’re defining your opponent from the bully pulpit of the White House. A good Presidential campaign saves the hard attacks for the campaign because by then the foundation is already set. In this case, you would think after months of questioning Bain moves such as laying off workers, sending jobs overseas etc. the foundation is set for a big splash like Romney is a felon.
What we’re seeing is a big mistake by Obama. This story is going to fade, by next week we won’t be talking about it anymore. Obama hasn’t done a good job laying the foundation for this sort of attack. Just look at the polls, they’re exactly where they were two or three months ago. The Bain attacks haven’t worked much. But had Obama set up a good foundation, this felony accusation would have been great in October. Two or three weeks before the election, to drop this sort of bomb and have the media talking about it nonstop might have killed Romney. Instead this information was dropped in July. It’s a headache and it’s a potential major problem. But it’s July, Romney has time to formulate an adequate response and he’ll have a chance to change the media narrative with a running mate selection. In short, the Obama campaign screwed this up.