The campaigns have suspended politics for the day, but I haven't. It's worth reflecting on this week, because it might prove to be a pivotal one.
On Monday morning, it was all about where the Bain story was going. Then the news flow on that one slowed down. Then Obama went on his small-business riff. Then the Wednesday polls came out, favoring Romney. And Romney ended the week, pre-shooting, hitting Obama hard on the small-business quote.
I will say again that Romney's characterization of what Obama said is utterly false. It's obvious that Obama meant didn't built that road or bridge. No non-hate-obsessed person can actually believe that Barack Obama thinks that Steve Jobs didn't build Apple. Or can a non-hate-obsessed person be persuaded to believe that? I guess we'll see.
Obama was going to respond to Romney's attacks today in Florida, but now he's not giving a partisan speech. So we'll see this weekend how he responds. Will he simply affirm that he loves small business people, or will he directly engage Romney, say that Romney is lying about what he was saying and Romney knows it? Apparently part of the plan is to detail how Romney's plans would hurt small businesses. Doesn't sound like that will bang through the noise machine.
I sniffed at the controversy over this comment earlier in the week because it's such a patently absurd and false interpretation of what Obama said that I didn't expect it to have legs because I didn't expect Romney to use it quite like he has. It has the potential to do him some damage.
Bain? It's not going away. There are still reporters digging things up. Glen Kessler at the Washington Post, one of the prominent Romney defenders in the press, writes today that both the Romney campaign and Bain Capital are dodging his questions:
But Romney has failed to provide sufficient evidence that he had “no role whatsoever” at Bain. Over the past few days, we have repeatedly asked Bain Capital whether the firm could provide a statement that a review of Bain board meetings had shown that Romney did not attend any such meeting, either in person or by phone. We are still waiting for a response.
If evidence emerges that Romney was directly involved in any Bain deal after February 1999, that will be a big story. His tax returns will remain a story, too, although not a huge one until there's anything factual and provable. And the needle probably isn't going to move that much in one direction or the other. Nate Silver still says little change. But there's no doubt that Romney has ended this week sleeping better than he was when it started, assuming he's not losing sleep over lying so blatantly about that quote, which I'd reckon he's not.