- (Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
President Obama's recent issues with a dismal jobs report and a stagnant economy that has failed to improve the balance sheet of the average household seems to be taking a back seat to the recent attacks on Mitt Romney's reluctance to release additional years of income tax returns and the exact date when he left Bain Capital.
And it seems to be working.
Romney, who started Bain Capital in 1984, left suddenly in 1999 to manage the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics, which like many of the companies Bain acquired, was taken from the depths of a fiscal nightmare to a successful production.
The issue the Obama campaign is attempting to exploit is not so much Romney's success or failures at his old job, but the date he officially left Bain.
The Romney campaign insists he gave up all management responsibilities at Bain when he joined the Olympic committee, but forms filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission as late as 2002 list him as an "executive" with private equity firm.
Nonetheless, Romney never returned to an active management role at Bain after his duties in Salt Lake City ended but did earn at least $100,000 annually in 2001 and 2002. The confusion around the issue has given the Obama campaign some fuel to add to an increasing fire built on Romney's personal wealth.
Many campaigns might relish the opportunity to clear the air about a candidate's time and success in the private sector, but the issue is a tricky one for Romney. The major problem is that Obama wants to talk about the former Massachusetts governor's success more than the former governor is comfortable doing so.
While investors like private equity firms for the possibility of attractive returns, most Americans never have the opportunity to enjoy the rewards of a quarter million dollar plus investment and thus don't reap the high return.
Yet other workers, especially those connected to organized labor, occasionally see their jobs eliminated due to spin-offs or closures and this is one of several issues the Obama camp is talking incessantly about.
However, the other driving issue is that Romney made hundreds of millions while at Bain and how he has disclosed those dollars and where he has invested the money are two issues the Obama camp seems to want voters to discuss over breakfast each day.
Although Romney has disclosed two years' worth of detailed tax returns, Obama supporters are clamoring for him to release more returns. Romney is resisting, saying Obama will only "distort and lie" about him in television and radio ads.
House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) even tried to use Romney's father, the former governor of Michigan, as a tool against him since the elder Romney disclosed several years of tax returns when he ran for president in the late 1960s.
"His father set the standard for transparency. … This is a tradition that he is breaking not only in his family but for candidates for president of the United States. You want to run for president of the United States, the ante is upped," Pelosi told Politico.