Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Mitt Romney vs. stubborn facts

By Donna Brazile, CNN Contributor
July 27, 2012 -- Updated 1357 GMT (2157 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Donna Brazile: Mitt Romney doesn't want to talk about the facts of his business record
  • Brazile: So which part of Romney's biography can we evaluate?
  • She says Romney's ties with Bain Capital are inconsistent with what he's telling the public
  • Brazile: Facts and the Romney campaign have a difficult relationship these days

Editor's note: Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist, is vice chairwoman for voter registration and participation at the Democratic National Committee. She is a nationally syndicated columnist, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of "Cooking with Grease." She was manager for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000.

(CNN) -- John Adams once said, "facts are stubborn things." These days, another Massachusetts politician has found that saying to ring especially true.

While it's still unclear how Mitt Romney can be the CEO, chairman, president and sole shareholder of Bain Capital, a company that he claims no responsibility for, it's become increasingly evident that candidate Romney simply doesn't want to talk about the facts of his business record.

In an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan, Romney suggested that to question his experiences is to "attack success." If this is the case, and if we're also not supposed to talk above a whisper about Mitt's record as governor, including his signature accomplishment in health care reform, then which parts of his biography remain on the table?

Donna Brazile
Donna Brazile

Romney clearly prefers his largely undisclosed experiences in the private sector over his publicly poor record in Boston. At every turn, Romney and his campaign have attempted to steer the discussion toward business matters for just this reason.

John King: Why is 1999 so important in 2012?

But when the Washington Post took him up on it last month and published an article headlined "Romney's Bain Capital invested in companies that moved jobs overseas," the Romney campaign was caught flatfooted. The Post found that Bain Capital, the firm Romney spent much of his professional life building up, had invested in companies that had not only shipped jobs overseas -- a practice of some concern to working- and middle-class Americans -- but had pioneered the practice.

Romney defends Bain departure date
More questions on Romney's Bain tenure

Romney's campaign pushed back hard, claiming that the Post had its facts wrong. The campaign met with the Post's editors and demanded a retraction, claiming that Romney had left Bain in 1999, supposedly before the outsourcing investment began. The Washington Post listened to the Romney side of the story but stood its ground.

Now we know why. The Boston Globe reported two weeks ago that Romney had signed official documents claiming to be the president and CEO of Bain Capital as late as 2002, when the company was actively building up firms that outsourced American jobs. He didn't just say this casually at some dinner party; he swore it was the truth on Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

What did the Romney campaign do this time? It hit the "repeat" button and demanded a retraction from the Globe. Who are you going to believe, the campaign asked its hometown paper, me or your lying eyes? Once again, the investigative journalists stood by their reporting.

Since the Globe story, the hits have kept coming. The AP reported this week that Romney stayed in "regular contact" with Bain during his so-called absence, "personally signing or approving a series of corporate and legal documents through the spring of 2001." Several sources are now saying that Romney made repeated trips to Boston to meet with Bain executives during this period, even though he recently told CBS's Jan Crawford that he doesn't "recall even coming back once to go to a Bain or a management meeting" during the period in question.

So despite what the Romney campaign claims, media interest in this story has nothing to do with attacking personal success in the private sector. It has nothing to do with avoiding the real issues of the campaign.

It has everything to do with attempting to get to the bottom of a situation in which what a candidate is saying seems to have come unglued from the stubborn facts.

Opinion: Why won't Romney release more tax returns?

Americans know that a level playing field empowers a successful economy. You want to talk about soaking the rich? Mitt Romney's father, George Romney, paid an effective tax rate of nearly 37% in 1967. The elder Romney didn't complain and released his tax returns to prove his compliance with the law of the land he wanted to lead. In 2010, Mitt Romney's tax rate bobbed and weaved its way below 15% -- and we know that only because the public had to pry his return (he has released only a full one) out of his clenched hands.

Even more fascinating than the fact that Romney's father released 12 years' worth when he ran for president in 1968 is the reason why. "One year could be a fluke," the elder Romney said, "perhaps done for show."

This country has a noble habit of withholding elected office from people who have trouble with the facts. Romney could end these discussions overnight by releasing his tax returns, as he has been called on to do by Republicans like Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Until he makes peace with the facts, Romney will be stuck at the intersection of what is both a character issue and a policy issue. If Romney won't stand by his record at Bain, just like he won't stand by his record as governor of Massachusetts, how exactly is the American public supposed to evaluate the candidate? And if he won't disclose his own relationship with tax loopholes and offshore tax havens, leaving voters more questions than answers, how can the American people trust him to reform our tax code in a way that closes loopholes, eliminates free-riding and ensures that everyone is playing by the same rules?

Facts and the Romney campaign have a difficult relationship these days. But they do share one thing in common: They're both stubborn.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Donna Brazile.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 29, 2014 -- Updated 1650 GMT (0050 HKT)
LZ Granderson says the cyber-standing ovation given to Robyn Lawley, an Australian plus-size model who posted unretouched photos, shows how crazy Americans' notions of beauty have become
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
A crisis like the Gaza conflict or the surge of immigrants can be an opportunity for a lame duck president, writes Julian Zelizer
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1822 GMT (0222 HKT)
Carol Costello says the league's light punishment sent the message that it didn't consider domestic violence a serious offense
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1251 GMT (2051 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says saggy pants aren't the kind of fashion statement protected by the First Amendment.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1852 GMT (0252 HKT)
Margaret Hoover says some GOP legislators support a state's right to allow same-sex marriage and the right of churches, synagogues and mosques not to perform the sacrament
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1831 GMT (0231 HKT)
Megan McCracken and Jennifer Moreno say it's unacceptable for states to experiment with new execution procedures without full disclosure
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1850 GMT (0250 HKT)
Priya Satia says today's drones for bombardment and surveillance have their roots in the deadly history of Western aerial control of the Middle East that began in World War One
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1635 GMT (0035 HKT)
Jeff Yang says it's great to see the comics make an effort at diversifying the halls of justice
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Rick Francona says the reported artillery firing from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1822 GMT (0222 HKT)
Paul Callan says the fact that appeals delay the death penalty doesn't make it an unconstitutional punishment, as one judge ruled
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2225 GMT (0625 HKT)
Pilot Robert Mark says it's been tough for the airline industry after the plane crashes in Ukraine and Taiwan.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
Jennifer DeVoe laments efforts to end subsidies that allow working Americans to finally afford health insurance.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1533 GMT (2333 HKT)
Ruti Teitel says assigning a costly and humiliating "collective guilt" to Germany after WWI would end up teaching the global community hard lessons about who to blame for war crimes
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1245 GMT (2045 HKT)
John Sutter responds to criticism of his column on the ethics of eating dog.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says it's tempting to ignore North Korea's antics as bluster but the cruel regime is dangerous.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1850 GMT (0250 HKT)
To the question "Is Putin evil?" Alexander Motyl says he is evil enough for condemnation by people of good will.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Laurie Garrett: Poor governance, ignorance, hysteria worsen the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1349 GMT (2149 HKT)
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 2205 GMT (0605 HKT)
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1142 GMT (1942 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1853 GMT (0253 HKT)
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1637 GMT (0037 HKT)
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1413 GMT (2213 HKT)
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1408 GMT (2208 HKT)
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
ADVERTISEMENT