stuck in the middle

Romney Goes on Offensive, Accuses Obama of Political Cronyism

FREMONT, CA - MAY 31: Repubican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during news conference in front the shuttered Solyndra solar power company's manufacturing facility May 31, 2012 in Fremont, California. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2011 after receiving $535 million in federal loan money. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
“Come on guys, this is scandalous stuff.” Photo: Justin Sullivan/2012 Getty Images

As Mitt Romney took a beating over questions about his time at Bain last week, conservatives from Bill Kristol to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker urged him to put a stop to the Obama campaign’s assault by divulging more about his finances and going on the offensive against the president. There are no signs that Romney is planning to release more tax returns, but he’s taking at least one of those recommendations to heart. Despite his concern on Sunday about the campaign going negative, he reportedly plans to launch a coordinated attack against Obama this week, accusing him of showing “systematic favoritism” to his biggest fund-raisers and giving them lucrative government deals at the expense of the middle class.

According to the Washington Post, the effort, titled “Obama’s Political Payoffs and Middle Class Layoffs,” will begin at a rally on Tuesday in Pennsylvania and feature accompanying online videos and attacks from surrogates. Romney plans to intensify claims that Obama is a “crony capitalist” — a favorite term of tea partiers that he’s been using on the campaign trail.

Romney plans to focus on some familiar issues like Solyndra, the solar panel manufacturer that was put on the fast track to receive stimulus money and went bankrupt shortly afterward. Additionally, he’ll highlight less familiar examples of what he says amount to payoffs, including stimulus money being given to Westly Group and First Wind, two firms that are run by some of Obama’s biggest bundlers.

The success of the effort may hinge on whether or not Romney can present new and sufficiently damning information on Obama’s alleged cronyism. Solyndra and similar scandals have been brewing for nearly a year and so far they’ve failed to really gain momentum, even when Romney made a surprise appearance at the failed solar-energy plant. Similarly, Obama has been attacking Romney on Bain for months, but what made the issue explode in the past few days was a series of major revelations about Romney’s career and finances in the Boston Globe, Mother Jones, and Vanity Fair.

The Obama campaign has already responded, saying this is a difficult line of attack against the president since these are “false attacks” that will only “boomerang on his record of cronyism in Massachusetts and the Olympics.” Yet, a Romney adviser insists that with the new effort, “We’re turning the page.” That’s exactly what Romney’s supporters have been urging him to do, but without a satisfactory answer on his Bain exit and his tax returns, he may not be able to convince everyone else that it’s time to move on to the next scandal.

Romney on Offensive, Accuses Obama of Payoffs