Yesterday, Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) was on This Week to talk with George Stephanopoulos, and Robert Gibbs was on State of the Union talking with Candy Crowley, to discuss various political goings-on. Both Democratic spokespeople were hammered by their respective interviewers, mostly for ducking the important question of whether they thought Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was lying about his allegations regarding Mitt Romney's not paying taxes for ten years. Additionally, Crowley asked whether the Obama campaign would denounce Reid's unsourced allegations, something Gibbs pointedly ignored several times.
Both surrogates twisted themselves into knots in trying to put the blame on Romney for not releasing more extensive tax returns, yet at the same time not actually saying Romney hadn't paid taxes in the years Reid is claiming. Wasserman-Schultz, for example, said she "didn't know" who Reid had spoken to, but that "Mitt Romney could clear this up in ten seconds" if he released the 23 years of tax returns he gave to Senator McCain (R-AZ) in 2008. Stephanopoulos then said he "can't believe you [Wasserman-Schultz] believe it's okay to make an allegations like that...with no evidence." After letting Wasserman-Schultz continue to twist in the wind, he said "I take it from your answer you're not going to repudiate Senator Reid's charge," at which point the Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee said questions have been raised about Romney's taxes, and said he "owes" the American people answers on his time at Bain Capital, his overseas investment, etc. Stephanopoulos interrupted her to point out nobody except for Reid is making the accusation Reid made, but Wasserman-Schultz continued to ignore the question.
Gibbs was taken to task a little differently. Crowley asked him if the campaign was happy with the accusations Reid was leveling, since a Democrat in touch with the re-election campaign had told her "if Chicago wanted Reid to stop, he would stop." Gibbs ducked the question by talking about tax loopholes and "knowing" what is in the taxes people are paying. Crowley stopped him by stating that Romney didn't make the loopholes, and pointed out that even the Swiss bank account Gibbs railed against was not used or invested in illegally. Gibbs then pulled the "Romney's father set the standard" line that Wasserman-Schultz and other Democrats have pulled, and for which Jon Stewart slammed Reid. Crowley then asked twice, and stated once, about Chicago's willingness to tell Reid to stop making unsourced allegations. Gibbs pointedly ignored the question, and simply stated that Romney could put the whole thing to rest by releasing his returns. He also said he doesn't think anyone controls what Reid says or does, but Crowley didn't let him slide -- she slammed him for this misleading statement, noting that if the Obama campaign wanted him to stop, he would.
This whole kerfuffle over Reid's accusations has put the Senate Majority Leader in a bad light, but it essentially does no damage to him -- he's not up for re-election until 2016. Meanwhile, it does allow the Sunday talk shows to address the accusations instead of substantive issues like Reid's law-breaking willingness to not pass a budget. It allows the Obama campaign to attack Romney's tax returns and not focus on the economy, or the assassination of American citizens the Administration seems to be okay with. Republicans ought to follow the lead of Marc Theissen and Megyn Kelly, who effectively blew the accusations out of the water, and then pointedly move on to the real issues facing the country.