Every four years, the run-up to the presidential election is described as the “silly season” of politics. That description seems particularly apt this time around.
For the past week, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney has come under fire about exactly when he left Bain Capital, the company he founded. Romney has long said he left in February 1999, but documents uncovered by the Washington Post suggest otherwise. Papers filed with the Security and Exchange Commission bear Romney’s signature until 2002 and describe him as the company’s chief executive, managing partner and sole shareholder.
Why is it important when he left? Because Romney has made his history with Bain one of the cornerstones of his campaign, taking credit for the company’s successes, but saying he was no longer around when the company engaged in practices many voters may find to be unpalatable, such as laying off American workers in favor of those overseas or investing in Stericycle, a medical waste company that, among other services, offered disposal of aborted fetuses.
In response, Romney went on a blitzkrieg media tour Friday evening, saying he remained with Bain “on paper” from 1999 to 2002, but had no control over day-to-day activities of the company. He also used the opportunity to call on President Obama’s campaign to apologize for making an issue of the distinction.
But without corroboration, Romney’s declarations are not likely to quell the issue. Right now, Romney is fueling the attacks he faces by refusing to make public tax returns and business records that would settle the issue, once and for all. By refusing to do so, he is only furthering speculation that he has something to hide.
Over the last 40 years, it has been routine for presidential candidates to provide multiple years of tax returns, but Romney so far has offered only one. Most Americans have to disclose more financial information when they are trying to buy a house. Romney should understand that voters want to know more about him, as he makes his bid to move into the White House.
If Romney is afraid his tax returns would disclose something voters might not like, he needs to understand remaining secretive about them will only lead to speculation that in all likelihood is far worse than reality.
The best advice we can offer Romney is that he should release the information now and explain anything that might be called into question, so that the presidential campaign can move forward with a discussion about the nation’s future, rather than speculation about his past.
— The Floyd County Times