I said the Obama campaign was flailing – maybe I was wrong.
It looks more like death throes:
Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter suggested that Mitt Romney may be a criminal on a conference call with reporters this morning about a Boston Globe report that shows that Romney stayed at Bain Capital three years past when he said he’d left.
Cutter said that there were two ways to interpret the story. The first: Mitt Romney was “misrepresenting his position” at Bain to the Securities and Exchange Commission, “which is a felony.”
Or, he was “misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people. If that’s the case, if he was lying to the American people, that’s a real character and trust issue,” Cutter said.
Cutter called on the Romney campaign to clear up by the issue by releasing the candidate’s tax returns.
“If the SEC filings aren’t accurate, then prove it,” she said.
Bob Bauer, head lawyer for the Obama campaign and a former White House counsel, also implied that Romney could be in legal trouble. He said that SEC documents are “very carefully scrutinized by lawyers because of the very severe consequences that follow from making statements to the SEC that aren’t correct.”
From the Washington Times:
Mitt Romney’s campaign manager today accused President Obama’s campaign of being “out-of-control” after a top Obama staffer said the former Massachusetts governor either broke the law or lied to voters.
Stephanie Cutter, Mr. Obama’s deputy campaign manager, said recent news reports that questioned when Mr. Romney left Bain Capital have put his entire business record under scrutiny, and said he owes voters — or the Securities and Exchange Commission — an explanation.
On a conference call with reporters Ms. Cutter said Mr. Romney “is the most secretive person to run for president since Richard Nixon.”
But Matt Rhoades, Mr. Romney’s campaign manager, said that charge was so over-the-top that Mr. Obama needs to apologize for his entire campaign operation.
Even FactCheck.org knows that these dogs are barking up an empty tree:
For all these reasons, we respectfully reject the Obama campaign’s request that we amend our original story.
We re-state our conclusion that “some of the claims in the [recent Obama] ads are untrue, and others are thinly supported.” And we suggest that should Obama campaign officials discover any actual evidence that Romney personally participated in any management decisions at Bain after February of 1999, they should produce it to a federal prosecutor.
As does Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post:
To accept some of the claims, one would have to believe that Romney, with the advice of his lawyers, lied on government documents and committed a criminal offense. Moreover, you would have to assume he willingly gave up his share to a few years of retirement earnings — potentially worth millions of dollars — so he could say his retirement started in 1999.
UPDATE: Fortune obtained the offering documents for a Bain Capital Fund circulating in June 2000, as well as a fund in 2001. None of the documents show that Romney was listed as being among the “key investment professionals.” As Fortune put it, “the contemporaneous Bain documents show that Romney was indeed telling the truth about no longer having operational input at Bain — which, one should note, is different from no longer having legal or financial ties to the firm.”