Romney gets vicious

Campaign attacks Obama's "cocaine use"; GOP says come clean on tax returns; and other top Wednesday stories

Published July 18, 2012 11:57AM (EDT)

Really ugly: The Romney campaign, apparently embittered by Obamaland pointing out that Romney may have committed a felony on personal financial-disclosure forms, is prepared to get personal and nasty. Really personal. "I mean, this is a guy who admitted to cocaine use, had a sweetheart deal with his house in Chicago, and was associated and worked with Rod Blagojevich to get Valerie Jarrett appointed to the Senate," an unnamed Romney advisor told BuzzFeed.

Romney will stop qualifying his attacks on Obama by stating the president is a “nice guy.”  A second advisor told BuzzFeed, cribbing strategy apparently from Andrew Breitbart, that Romney “believes it's time to vet the president. He really hasn't been vetted; McCain didn't do it." The advisors also attacked Obama campaign strategist Stephanie Cutter as “some hack political advisor from Chicago who has nothing to point to in her own life.” Ironically, the advisors accused Obama of trying to “destroy a decent man and his wife.”

The vicious new tone suggests former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, a top Romney surrogate, was not that far off message when he accused the president of not being an American yesterday (he later apologized).

High-stakes taxes hold’em: Top Republicans are piling on with calls for Romney to release the tax returns he’s so far refused to. “It’s probably more preferable in answering some of the questions,” said Sen. Olympia Snowe, a Republican from Maine. “If it becomes an issue that he can’t move beyond in his own campaign, then obviously it would be important to determine to what extent he can release more,” she said. Other lawmakers, leading conservative columnists and Republican elites joined the call.

Enthusiasm gap: A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds an enthusiasm gap between the parties’ nominees. While 51 percent of liberal Democrats feel strongly favorably toward Obama's campaign, just 31 percent of conservative Republicans feel the same about Romney. Among Republicans overall, 66 percent view the way Mitt Romney is running his campaign in a favorable light, while 24 percent viewed it unfavorably, while 75 percent of Democrats view President Obama's strategy favorably.

Poll taxes 2.0 turn out to be bad: A new report by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU finds that more than 10 million potential voters in states that require a photo ID at the polls live more than 10 miles from offices that issue such IDs, making it difficult for them to obtain IDs and thus vote. The report also found that nearly half a million of those voters don’t have access to a car, making it even more likely they’ll be disenfranchised. "What we discovered was that there was limited access to these ID-issuing offices,"  said Keesha Gaskins, senior counsel at the Brennan Center, citing the difficulty and fees associated with getting IDs. "It certainly looks and feels like a poll tax," she added.

United against Citizens United: Almost two-thirds of Americans say they don’t think corporations and unions should be allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money in elections, according to a new poll. The poll, done for the Freedom Forum’s First Amendment Center, found that 63 percent of Americans disagreed with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, while 30 percent agreed.

By Alex Seitz-Wald

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2012 Elections Campaign Finance Mitt Romney