I hope it’s not too obvious to note this. But there’s another aspect of the Bain storm that is critical to recognize. Mitt Romney has had a disastrous few days. Maybe it will go on for another day or another week. But at some not too distant point in the future we’ll be on to something else. And yet both campaigns get that this skirmish is a battle for one of the biggest prizes of the whole campaign.
The Obama campaign is hitting this so hard to take a series of associations and embed them so deeply into voters’ consciousness that they become inseparable from the mention of the phrase ‘Bain Capital’. Those are ‘joke’, ‘liar’, ‘felon’, ‘retroactively retired’, ‘SEC filings’, ‘Caymans’, ‘whiner’, ‘buck stops here’, ‘hiding something’.
You can spin these out forever. But beyond all the specific accusations, they’re painting a picture that makes Romney look ridiculous, like a joke. They’re making Romney look stupid and powerless on the front where he believes he’s one of the standouts of his generation. And that’s plain lethal for a presidential candidate.
But how does it come into play? Simple. Mitt Romney has two claims on the presidency: successful governor of major state and captain of industry. He’s largely written off the first by disavowing a genuine and perhaps far-reaching accomplishment: health care reform. Which leaves him with Bain Capital.
The play here is to make this swirl of awfulness the first thing people think of when that phrase gets uttered.
Think about it this: when do you think the next time will be that Romney talks about Bain Capital on the stump? What will people be thinking about when the 15 minute convention video about Romney’s life gets to the part about Bain capital? The Obama camp is working to build a mental roadblock in front of any persuasive discussion of Romney’s professional life, something which should be the major predicate of his whole campaign. They’re not quite there yet. But they’re getting close.
While I was writing this post a friend emailed and asked “Why now? Isn’t it better to hold this for the convention or some time later?”
In a word, no. The Obama team’s goal here is to make the entirety of Romney’s professional life toxic and off-limits before Romney even gets the chance to introduce himself to much of the public. And they’re off to a pretty good start.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.