Public Says Draw, Press Says Mitt

Friday Afternoon Bain Sum Up: Who Won the Week?

Who won the Bain week? Because the "off-message" story line will always dominate, it's Romney.

So here we are, at the end of the week when the pain of Bain stayed mainly in our brains, from Cory Booker's, ah, startling comments Sunday up through Rick Perry's warning that if Obama continued to press his Bain attack, children in America would find it even more difficult to celebrate Christmas (well, something like that).

Who won the week? There's an argument that Booker's words kept the story in the headlines all week, and that a week of Bain is a bad week for Romney. There is something to that. But not enough. It was a worse week for Obama. He parried the matter well on Monday, at the NATO press conference. But he never shook the Booker dust off his shoes.

Polls continue to be mixed. There were a lot of stories saying that the Bain attacks had no effect, or even failed to stop Romney's rise in the polls, but the balance of polling doesn't seem to bear that out. Obama is the few (possibly meaningless) points ahead today that he was Monday.The NBC/Wall Street Journal survey was mixed, with the public mind still not made up about Bain: A solid majority thought that kind of experience could be useful for a president, but only 9 percent had a positive view of Romney's time there, while 19 percent took a negative view of it.

I think part of what we have here is a press that's overall pretty skeptical of the idea that a capitalist doing capitalistic things can be sold to Americans as a negative. But Americans on the whole are more receptive to that notion than the media are. Remember this Rasmussen poll? Yes, Rasmussen!:

Only 53% of American adults believe capitalism is better than socialism. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 20% disagree and say socialism is better. Twenty-seven percent (27%) are not sure which is better.

The story might yet become a Romney negative, but it isn't that yet. And Obama took more lumps this week because of the off-message story line, which is easy for political journalists and cable and is one of those story lines that just keeps chewing its way through the fabric and can't really be stopped until something else grabs the media's attention.

That's the Obama's team job. Change the subject. But: Changing it too quickly would lead to yet another story line, this time, that they'd dropped the Bain attack under pressure and the whole thing was a disaster. So nothing to do but ride it out, really. But I will close by saying this, for the third or fourth time this week: Romney's weakness isn't his past, but his future--his class-warfare plans against the middle class. There's gold in them thar hills.