Charlie Cook scratches his head:
The strategic decision by the Romney campaign not to define him personally—not to inoculate him from inevitable attacks—seems a perverse one. Given his campaign’s ample financial resources, the decision not to run biographical or testimonial ads, in effect to do nothing to establish him as a three-dimensional person, has left him open to the inevitable attacks for his work at Bain Capital, on outsourcing, and on his investments. It’s all rather inexplicable.
Ezra Klein asks why Romney was so unready:
That Romney wasn’t better prepared for the attacks on Bain and the questions over his taxes is one of the great mysteries of this campaign. An example: In 2008, Romney turned more than 20 years of his tax returns over to the McCain team in order to be vetted for the vice presidency. So he clearly realized that tax returns could matter for political campaigns.
Drum piles on:
Romney lost his 1994 Senate bid at least partly because of Ted Kennedy's devastating attacks on Bain. In 2002 he won his race for governor, but he got beat up pretty badly over Bain by Shannon O'Brien in the process. In 2008 he had to defend himself against Bain attacks again. In 2012 Bain haunted him yet again during the Republican primaries. So it's not as if he was unaware that Bain is a problem. Why does he still not have a better defense?
Frum answers that the best defenses of Bain don't appeal "much to the voters Romney most intensely needs to win":
Romney's core problem is this: He heads a party that must win two-thirds of the white working-class vote in presidential elections to compensate for its weakness in almost every demographic category. The white working class is the most pessimistic and alienated group in the electorate, and it especially fears and dislikes the kind of financial methods that gained Romney his fortune.
Hence the ever-shrinking box Romney finds himself in.
(Photo: Win McNamee/Getty)