Most candidates — Republican, Democrat or Independent — inevitably say things during their campaigns that are wrong, stupid or deceptive.
President Barack Obama, I'm sure, wishes that he could take back his boast during his 2008 run that he had campaigned in "57 states." Former Vice President Dan Quayle's "potatoe" misspelling plagued him the rest of his political life.
Much of that can be forgiven or overlooked as proof that the candidate is human. But when the candidate repeats the same gaffe or deception over and over again, it's grounds for questioning his qualification for public office.
Which brings us to Republican Mitt Romney's oft-repeated claim that he had left Bain Capital in 1999 and thus couldn't be saddled with the firm's job-killing or outsourcing actions. Obama's team has made the claim a centerpiece of its campaign to demonstrate that the multimillionaire Romney doesn't care about American workers or the middle class. But Romney repeats the claim over and over again, making everyone wonder about his veracity.
Romney does so in the face of evidence published by the Boston Globe that "government documents filed by Mitt Romney and Bain Capital say Romney remained chief executive and chairman of the firm three years beyond the date he said he ceded control, even creating five new investment partnerships during that time."
So why does Romney keep denying it, even demanding over and again that Obama apologize for deception?
Because Romney is right and Obama is wrong. It's Obama who is repeating the same deceit to the point of making him look like a fool or a liar.
I'll let the "fact checkers" explain why they gave Obama a shellacking.
Dan Primack, a Fortune magazine senior editor, responded to the Globe "revelations" by finding other documents showing that while Romney didn't give up formal Bain titles until 2002, "actual investment and management decisions were being made by others." He concluded: "The contemporaneous Bain documents show that Romney was indeed telling the truth about no longer having operational input at Bain ..."
The (Minneapolis) Star Tribune fact checker wrote: "But the weight of evidence suggests that Romney did in fact end active management of Bain in 1999. He stated that in a federal disclosure form he signed, under threat of criminal penalties. He said he was a 'former employee' in a state disclosure form. A state commission concluded 10 years ago that he did, indeed, leave Bain in 1999. And investors were told he was not part of the management team."
The Columbia Journalism Review rapped the Obama campaign for an anti-Romney ad that "distorts the facts in a Washington Post story to implicate Mitt Romney in outsourcing by firms that received funds from Bain Capital."
FactCheck.org concluded, "The president's campaign fails to back up its claims that Romney 'shipped jobs' overseas."
The Des Moines Register's Jennifer Jacobs noted: "Independent fact checkers have debunked President Barack Obama's previous allegations that Mitt Romney was responsible for outsourcing jobs, but the Democrat will soon air his third TV ad in Iowa going after his Republican rival on the same claim."
Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post's fact checker, grievously offended the paper's liberal readers by concluding that the Obama campaign is "blowing smoke." That drew a "roasting" of 5,000 responses, but after revisiting the issue, Kessler concluded: "So far, I have not seen enough evidence that (Romney) was actively managing Bain and its investments during this period. Thus I am standing with my assessment that Romney essentially left Bain in 1999."
Kessler awarded Obama three (out of four) Pinocchios in his ranking system, which rates untruths the way film critics rate movies — the higher the number, the more dishonest the fib.
As for the charge that Romney committed a felony by lying to federal regulators about his post-1999 role in Bain, Kessler suggested that the Obama campaign should "put its money where its mouth is" by filing a federal complaint about Romney's financial disclosure form, rather than trying "to mislead people about potential violations in relatively unimportant (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) documents."
All this doesn't excuse Romney for all the campaign Pinocchios he has garnered from Kessler. But Obama can't escape blame for trying to divert attention from the lousy economy by stubbornly sticking to one of the most feckless and deceptive campaign strategies in memory