I’ll just say it: I don’t think the political pundit class understands just how toxic the Swiss/Caymans/Bermuda accounts issue is for Romney. Not that they don’t know it’s a liability at all. But I don’t think they realize the extent of it.
Here’s a report just out from ABC News on how Ted Strickland introduced Obama in Ohio …
“Oh, what a contrast, my friends, between these two men who would be president!” Strickland said, standing outside the Wolcott House Museum. “President Obama is betting on America and American workers, and Mitt Romney is betting his resources in the Cayman Islands, in Bermuda, in Switzerland and God only knows where else he is putting his resources.”
Fair or not, it just rolls off the tongue. Immediately understandable. And assuming you’re not talking to the deeply ideological committed or hyper-partisans, how exactly do you understand that a man running for president has parked a lot of his money in offshore tax havens?
Whatever harsh message you’re trying to prove — out of touch with lives of ordinary Americans, plays by a different set of rules, isn’t focused on America and American workers — it fits right in.
Set aside all questions of legality. And I think Romney’s probably too smart and close to the vest to break any laws. But how do you explain it? What’s the good explanation?
Do you seek the safe harbor of Romney’s 15% tax rate?
It’s toxic, as clearly the Obama and Romney camps can see. And there’s an extra bonus for the Obama forces. Note Strickland’s last line: “and God only knows where else he is putting his resources.”
Once the Dems have saturated the public with the offshore tax haven story, Romney is going to be really, really hard pressed not to release a lot more of his tax returns. A lot.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.