Romney Still Hearts Clinton

I’ve written before about the Romney campaign’s odd insistence on using Bill Clinton as a de facto spokesperson. Every so often, Team Romney highlights a comment by Clinton as a critique of President Obama, as if Clinton wasn’t an avowed and enthusiastic supporter of the president. The rationale, I suppose, is to be able to claim bipartisan discontent with Obama. The problem is that this does nothing more but boost Clinton’s credibility by turning him into a nonpartisan figure of repute. And as we saw during the Democratic National Convention, he can use this “referee” status to effectively hammer Mitt Romney and the Republican Party.

Indeed, it was after Clinton’s devastating speech that I expected Republicans to leave the former president out of the election. Turns out, they couldn’t resist: Today, Team Romney is distributing a clip of Clinton in Ohio, where he said that the economy has not been “fixed” under President Obama.

In their eagerness to use Clinton against Obama, it’s obvious that the Romney campaign failed to listen to what came after that statement:

Here’s the transcript:

“This guy ran Bain Capital and is a business guy, and he’s hiding his budget? That ought to tell you something. Well, he’s hiding his taxes, too, but he’s hiding his taxes in the years when he earned ordinary income. He’s given us two years when he was just running for president. And, he’s hiding whether he would have signed the Lilly Ledbetter act. He’s hiding everything. He doesn’t want you to think about him. He wants you to think, ‘Oh this economy is terrible. I’m a jobs guy.’ And as President Obama said in the debate, if I brought you a deal to Bain Capital and I said, fund my new business, I’ll give you the budget sometime in the future, just trust me on that, you wouldn’t give me one red cent, and we should not give him one vote on that.”

This is a potent message—it’s a variation on the “sketchy deal” language adopted by Obama—and by giving credibility to Clinton, Romney is making it stronger.