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Sunday, August 28, 2011


Opposition research has long been part of campaigning. Sometimes, candidates supply ammunition to oppo guys. Beth Fouhy writes at The Associated Press:
Voters say they want authentic, straight-talking candidates. But voters also tend to punish candidates who veer too far off script or who make assertions that, while true, cause people to cringe and question whether these politicians are out of touch with those they seek to represent.

Consider Romney, the early GOP front-runner who recently confronted a heckler in Iowa who was demanding higher taxes on corporations.

"Corporations are people, my friend," the former Massachusetts governor shot back. "Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people."

Romney said it again at a campaign event in New Hampshire on Wednesday.

"When you say tax corporations, steel, vinyl, concrete, they don't pay taxes. Only people do," he said.

Corporations are made up of the people who work for them and stockholders who benefit from their profits. The Supreme Court said as much last year when it eased restrictions on campaign spending by corporations, saying businesses deserve the same freedom of speech individuals enjoy.

But it was smart for Romney to say, given the nation's high unemployment and deep resentment of Wall Street? Probably not.

Democrats, predictably, pounced. President Barack Obama said he disagreed with the notion that corporate tax breaks are "good for ordinary Americans."

It's possible that Romney's comment won't damage his campaign because Republican primary voters tend to view business interests more favorably than do Democrats. But because of his wealth and history at Bain Capital, a private equity firm that created jobs in some places but made them disappear elsewhere through consolidation, the remark could reinforce the perception that Romney is disconnected from the concerns of working people.

"The gaffes that get traction tend to be the ones that fit a narrative that already exists about the candidate," said Marc Hetherington, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University who studies campaign rhetoric. "Since corporations are very unpopular right now, it could really stick to someone like Romney who is so identified with the business community."