Thursday, January 19, 2012

Romney's Tax Returns

Mitt Romney's defensiveness over his tax returns makes me wonder about his candidacy. Surely he knew that he was going to get pressure in releasing them at some point. Regardless of what was in them, he should have been prepared to deal with those issues. Conversely, if he had decided to gut it out, then he should have prepared a strategy for explaining why his returns were nobody else's business.

I am taking a class where we are discussing scenario building for planning. Competent planning might have looked at a number of planning scenarios by the Romney camp. First, examine all of the potential criticisms that might be found in the tax returns and how to respond, indeed, turn some of them into positives. For example, Romney probably gives millions to Mormon organizations. He could win over Americans who certainly know that charities are solving problems that government has found intractable.

Second, he probably has good reason to want to control the timing of the release. But his campaign could have planned for leaks at the IRS and demands from other candidates to see the returns. He was clearly winging it and caught off guard by the sudden interest. But that interest was wholly predictable.

Third, if he wasn't going to release his returns, at least not without seeing what it might cost him in support, he needed a go on offense strategy for that option. I would have used it to challenge Obama to release transcripts and papers he had written in college. I suspect that Obama isn't releasing his college material because of plagiarism or other embarrassing revelations that might come out. Romney could have used the tax returns as bargaining chips to remind America of how much of his past Obama has hidden from view.

Regardless, Romney inability to handle this situation makes me nervous that he might be the nominee, and get blind sided by Obama. My only solace is that Obama doesn't do well when someone lays a glove on him, either, witness his weak response to Sarah Palin's initial attacks in 2008.

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