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Puzzling choices by Romney

With almost four months to the presidential election, and in what appears to be a very close race, it is far too soon to determine whether Mr. Romney or President Obama will win in November.

But it is certainly an opportune moment to consider how the contest is unfolding. And, critic or supporter, one would have to note that Mitt Romney has had a tough couple of weeks.

Clearly, the Obama campaign has been driving the “messaging” of the campaign recently, taking Romney off his determined plan to speak only about the economy and only in general terms.

Instead the discussion has been about Bain and Romney’s taxes. But there is a puzzling aspect of this conversation, and it is that Romney has been challenged on his Bain tenure before, going as far back as his 1990’s Senate run against Ted Kennedy. Romney did not handle the questions well then, or in the Republican primaries this spring, nor now.

Why?

Mr. Romney has both claimed his experience as Bain CEO is what qualifies him for the presidency, and claimed that the left Bain years before he ended his CEO title. Logic demands the question: If Bain is your claim to fame, then why insist you left Bain long before your resignation?

Would you not wish to take credit for as much of Bain’s success as you possibly can if that experience is your qualification for the presidency?

Instead of claiming his results at Bain from 1999 to 2002 Mr. Romney is claimed by his representatives to have “retroactively” resigned as CEO. How does one do that? How do you serve as CEO, sign legal documents to that effect, yet one day lay claim that you resigned two years earlier?

And while once claiming he had no activity whatsoever at Bain from 1999 to 2002, Mr. Romney now claims that he was not participating in “day to day” decisions. What exactly does that mean? Do CEO’s ordinarily participate in day to day decisions? And is not such a claim a vague suggestion that his inactivity was supplemented by activity during these years?

If you follow the money Mr. Romney was compensated during the years in question as CEO of Bain. So he had some decision making activities, signed legal documents as CEO and accepted compensation…yet he resigned retroactively?

Seriously?

So why is Romney doing all he can to run from the very experience he says qualifies him to be president? Perhaps because during those years Bain’s effectiveness in moving jobs out of America flourished to its greatest degree. While this made Bain very profitable, it is hardly a talent sought for in an American president.

Mr. Romney is also running from sharing his tax records before 2011, even though the demands are coming from both Republicans and Democrats to release those records. We already know of his wealth, so that is not a secret to be uncovered. So what might be a reason for failing to show the American people his tax history?

Are there years when he paid no taxes on a multi-million income? Explanations that skirt tax laws for his accounts in Switzerland, or his investments in the Cayman Islands?

Perhaps no such evidence exists, but without seeing those records there can only continue to be such questions that cloud his candidacy around tax avoidance issues.

If Mitt Romney is not willing to claim Bain as his success, and unwilling to show he has not undermined his tax responsibilities personally, can he really lay claim to qualify to serve as President?

 

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.