Politics

              Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, right, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., center, and former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, left, laugh as they campaign in Hilton Head, S.C., Friday, Jan. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
              Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, right, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., center, and former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, left, laugh as they campaign in Hilton Head, S.C., Friday, Jan. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)   

Massive opposition research file on Romney hits Internet, likely from 2008 McCain campaign

Photo of David Martosko
David Martosko
Executive Editor

If you think you’ve already heard everything there is to know about Mitt Romney, think again. A 200-page document that appears to be Sen. John McCain’s entire 2008 election-year opposition research file on the former Massachusetts governor hit the Internet with a vengeance Tuesday evening. And it’s an eye-opener.

The file explores everything from the assessed value of Romney’s house (“$3.162 million”) to his views on the Boy Scouts’ ban of homosexuals (“publicly opposed … in 1994 and 2002 campaigns”). It was made public Tuesday on the social media website Buzzfeed, although it appears to have been accessible online for two months.

The document, given the name “The Romney Book,” was viewed less than 100 times on the page where it was originally uploaded by its anonymous leaker on November 11.

Neither McCain nor his former presidential campaign staffers have authenticated the untitled document, and McCain’s recent endorsement of Romney makes that highly unlikely. Still, the file is comprehensive enough — even by Washington, D.C. opposition-research standards — to suggest that it was assembled as a tool to counter a Romney candidacy on a national scale. And the news articles it references stop late in 2007.

After a four-page introduction and timeline of Romney’s personal and professional life, the file’s next six pages cover what the authors called “top hits.” The last six pages are an appendix describing a “Boston Video Archive.”

The biggest portion consists of a detailed and heavily sourced exploration of Romney’s evolving positions on social issues (22 pages), economic issues (21 pages) and domestic policy (48 pages).

A 33-page section details his business record at Bain Capital, and 16 pages cover political issues that the authors believed can be exploited against Romney.

Another 11 pages are devoted to his “flip-flops.”

Read the Romney file:

The Romney Book

The extensive research on Romney’s business history includes many snippets and quotations from news stories that are no longer available online or have disappeared behind newspaper paywalls, making the file a likely gold mine for Romney’s political rivals this year.

For instance, a 1991 Boston Globe article explored how Bain “cultivated a mystique around the secretive firm, which was once dubbed ‘the KGB of consulting.’ Partners didn’t carry business cards and referred to clients by code names. … And it inculcated in the recruits such a sense of mission that young consultants became known as Bainies, a reference to the Unification Church’s Moonies.”

Citing a 1994 Globe article, the file concludes that “Romney used Drexel Burnham junk bonds to finance [a] 1988 leveraged buyout, right around the time SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] officials were taking formal action against the company.”

In a followup article cited in the file, the Globe reported that Romney and another Bain Capital partner “defended their decision to hire Drexel before the SEC suit — at a time when rumors of the investigation were rife on Wall Street — as well as after the suit was filed.”

The dossier also explores the history of Bain’s business transactions related to Ampad, Maytag, Haier Group, and seven other companies that were subjects of Bain takeovers.