Romney now chased the Obama story, granting five TV interviews to reiterate his version of events. The more he talked, the more deeply into trouble he sank. By Sunday, even Romney supporters were urging the thing he wants least: release of more income tax returns.
And here again, what got Romney into the trouble was his war room. It was the too-fierce response to Attack 1 -- the adamant insistence that Romney had nothing, nothing to do with anything that happened at Bain after February 1999 -- that set up Romney for Attack 2: Did he lie on SEC forms? And now he will struggle through the rest of the election trying to reconcile his answers. Yes, it is technically true that Romney ended his operational role at Bain before he ended his titular role. It was also technically true (as Josh Marshall points out) that John Kerry did vote for the $87 billion before he voted against it.
Romney's core problem is this: He heads a party that must win two-thirds of the white working-class vote in presidential elections to compensate for its weakness in almost every demographic category. The white working class is the most pessimistic and alienated group in the electorate, and it especially fears and dislikes the kind of financial methods that gained Romney his fortune.
Romney has a strong potential defense: Bain was in the business of making companies more efficient and profitable. Downsizing and outsourcing were necessary -- and often indispensable -- means to that end. In a growing economy, the workers who lost their jobs should find new jobs elsewhere, and it's precisely the relentless search for profitability that causes economies to grow in the first place.
That's an argument that, to borrow an old joke of Henry Kissinger's, is not only convincing but has the additional merit of being true. However, it's not an argument that appeals much to the voters Romney most intensely needs to win. Hence his unleashing of the war room -- but in the end, there's only so much a war room can do. And this time, by trying to do too much, the Romney war room may have blasted its own side with lethal friendly fire.
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