[T]hose who fall within the base of the Democratic Party tend not to bite quite as quickly on an unsubstantiated accusation [as Republicans do] — even when the charges are being proposed by their own side. It’s just not the way these folks play the political game and, if truth be told, they are embarrassed that their party has chosen to sign up for the event in the first place.
If you doubt this, good luck finding a Democratic leader willing to stand up for Harry Reid and his unproven accusations.
Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod on Sunday did not disavow claims made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that Mitt Romney did not pay taxes for 10 years, although he didn’t indicate that the campaign had reason to believe the claims are true.
“I don’t know who Harry was talking to,” Axelrod told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” “The point here, though, Chris, is the Romney campaign and Gov. Romney can resolve this in 10 seconds – they can release the tax returns.”…
“Why don’t they just put this to rest?” he said. “What is it that he’s hiding?”
Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who appeared on “This Week” before Priebus, declined to criticize Reid and said that Romney could clear the air by releasing more returns.
“I do know that Mitt Romney could clear this up in 10 seconds by releasing the 23 years of tax returns that he gave to John McCain when he was being vetted for vice president. Or even 12 years of tax returns that his own father said were what was appropriate. Because one year of tax returns, like he’s released, could just be for show,” said Wasserman Schultz, who added that she does not know Reid’s source.”Like the overwhelming majority of voters believe, because the polls all show, that Mitt Romney owes us more than one year of tax returns. Owes us answers to questions about his overseas investments, owes us answers to questions about why he’s decided to invest in foreign countries, as opposed to investing in the United States.”
Schieffer compared the whole controversy with Reid and Romney to the days of Joe McCarthy.
“Isn’t this kind of like Joe McCarthy back in the era when he said, ‘I have in my hand the names of 400 people in the State Department who are communists’? It turns out he didn’t, and he was saying that the way to prove that they’re not is for them to come forward there. I mean, asking somebody to come forward just because there’s been an unsubstantiated charge, that’s a little thin to me.”
[Former Ohio Gov. Ted] Strickland insisted that the people “deserve to know” what is in Romney’s taxes, and defended Reid by saying that Romney’s lack of transparency on his returns “invites speculation.”
Candy Crowley, CNN: To the propriety of the leader of the Democrats in the Senate accusing, based on a source, the Republican nominee of not paying any taxes for 10 years, is that something that Chicago has encouraged? Do you want him to stop?
Robert Gibbs: Let’s be clear, I don’t think anybody controls Harry Reid.
Crowley: But if you asked him to stop, he would.
Gibbs: Again, put the tax returns out. Put this whole thing to rest. Candy, have you ever seen anybody go to such great lengths to not put something out? And when you generally don’t put something out, isn’t it because you’re generally hiding something?
Robert Gibbs on CNN and David Axelrod on Fox in their own Sunday turns expertly avoided commenting on Reid’s tactics (although they were asked to repeatedly) and did their more-in-sadness-than-in-anger act suggesting that all Romney has to do is release more years and everything will be just fine.
But it is all status quo: Romney has no intention of releasing additional years; the media will keep demanding it; most Republicans will quietly gripe that Romney has handled this all badly; many Republicans will quietly argue that Romney should and will put out additional years; a few Republicans will continue to break ranks and publicly urge Romney to put out additional years; the Obama campaign and the White House will continue to laugh and laugh and laugh at how easily they have hijacked the debate, moved the spotlight off the economy, and put Romney on the defensive; and polls will show a mixed verdict on if the matter is hurting Romney or not.