Opinion

Look for the Romney hemorrhage starting Wednesday morning

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Lanny Davis
Former Special Counsel to President Clinton
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      Lanny Davis

      Lanny J. Davis counsels individuals, corporations and government contractors, and those under congressional scrutiny, on crisis management and legal issues by developing legal, media and legislative strategies that are designed to best produce a successful result for the client. He has experience in securities fraud and SEC investigations as well, and has found that utilizing such an integrated legal/media/lobbying approach can lead to quicker and less expensive settlements or even successfully litigated outcomes. Senior officials of public companies have also hired Lanny and his crisis group to defend themselves successfully against "short and distort" attacks and other market manipulations. For 25 years prior to 1996, before his tenure as special counsel to President Clinton, Lanny was a commercial, antitrust, government contracts and False Claims Act litigator (both in defense as well as plaintiff). He has argued numerous appellate cases in the U.S. courts of appeals.

      In June 2005, President Bush appointed Lanny to serve on the five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, created by the U.S. Congress as part of the 2005 Intelligence Reform Act. In that capacity, he received the highest level security clearances so that he could be fully briefed and "read in" to the various anti-terrorist surveillance and financial tracking programs at the highest classified level. From 1996 to 1998, Lanny served as special counsel to the president in the White House and was a spokesperson for the president and the White House on matters concerning campaign finance investigations and other legal issues. Lanny has participated in national, state and local politics for almost 30 years. He has served three terms (1980 to 1992) on the Democratic National Committee representing the state of Maryland, and during that period he served on the DNC Executive Committee and as chairman of the Eastern Region Caucus. In Montgomery County, Maryland, he served as chairman of the Washington Suburban Transit Commission.

      Lanny has authored several books and lectured throughout the United States and Europe on various political issues. Between 1990 and 1996, Lanny was a bimonthly commentator on Maryland politics for WAMU-88.5/FM, a Washington, D.C. local affiliate of National Public Radio. He has been a regular television commentator and has been a political and legal analyst for MSNBC, CNN, Fox Cable, CNBC and network TV news programs. He has published numerous op-ed/analysis pieces in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, he Washington Post and other national publications.

      Lanny graduated from Yale Law School, where he won the prestigious Thurman Arnold Moot Court prize and served on the Yale Law Journal. A graduate of Yale University, Lanny served as chairman of the Yale Daily News.

      Lanny is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and Connecticut and before the Supreme Court of the United States and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

It doesn’t matter if Mitt Romney wins the Iowa caucuses tonight. He is about to experience a severe political hemorrhage over his refusal to disclose his tax returns.

Full disclosure: I am supporting President Obama for re-election because I agree almost entirely with his policies and I disagree with every Republican candidate on the fundamental issues I care about most.

But I must say I have admired Mitt Romney for a long time — for his business and political careers and, especially, for being a good father. I met two of his sons on different occasions in the “Green Room” (holding hospitality room) at Fox News Channel, where I am a contributor. And I remember thinking, “Whatever I like or dislike about Mitt Romney’s politics, he must be a great man to inspire such love and loyalty by two sons.

I also have many Republican friends who are strong Romney supporters, and whom I greatly respect, such as Mark DeMoss, a conservative Republican media specialist who represents many Christian evangelical organizations and has become a good friend of mine.

I became increasingly critical of Mr. Romney’s presidential campaign when he flip-flopped on some core issues that meant a lot to me — such as opposing Newt Gingrich’s position that an illegal immigrant who has been in the country for 25 years, with a job, family and history of paying taxes and being a good citizen, should be forced to go back to his country of origin without a system for allowing him to earn his way into U.S. citizenship. George Bush, John McCain and most decent people I know support Gingrich’s position. Why wouldn’t Mitt Romney, a moderate conservative and great dad with a big enough heart to inspire such love and devotion from his children?

No reason, except pure pandering. Which doesn’t shock me; it just disappoints me.

So getting to the topic at hand, whatever happens tonight in the Iowa caucuses — by the way, I predict Rick Santorum will eke out a victory over Romney, with Ron Paul in a virtual dead heat with Romney (there, I didn’t wimp out and say “too close to call”) — I predict that Romney is about to head down in the polls, will be wounded and will keep bleeding to the point of hemorrhaging starting tomorrow morning.

The conventional wisdom already is predicting this because Newt Gingrich, Santorum, Ron Paul and, if they stay in the race, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann will all start hammering on Romney as the front-runner for some of his “liberal” positions, such as on choice and “Romneycare.”

But I don’t think this normal phenomenon of bashing the front-runner is going to be the key factor that will put Romney in great political danger.

I think the key factor will be Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns, which will bring into critical mass Romney’s biggest candidate vulnerability: the idea that he lacks candor and authenticity.