Three Days, Three Scandals, One Bottom Line: Romney Not Ready for Prime Time

Mar 21, 2007, 01:00 ET from Democratic National Committee

    WASHINGTON, March 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following was
 released today by the Democratic National Committee:
     It's been a revealing week for smooth talking Mitt Romney. Every day,
 his campaign has walked right into the sort of scandal that penetrates his
 smooth talk and shows that he's just not ready for prime time. On Monday,
 Cuban American activists blasted Romney for quoting Fidel Castro's
 traditional sign- off line "patria o muerte, venceremos" -- a "Communist
 rallying cry" that means "Fatherland or death, we shall overcome." The
 incident prompted one local activist to call him an "empty suit," while
 others blasted his lack of preparation on Cuban issues. [Miami Herald,
 3/20/07; Boston Herald, 3/21/07]
     On Tuesday, reports linked Romney's national finance co-chair and the
 co- chair of Romney's Commonwealth PAC, John Rakolta, to a Michigan group
 that funded hate-filled campaign ads featuring images of Adolph Hitler and
 a swastika alongside leading Democrats like Michigan Governor Jennifer
 Granholm and Presidents Clinton, Carter, Johnson, and Roosevelt. [AP,
     Today, The Politico revealed that three leaders of his "Lawyers for
 Romney" fundraising arm worked for scandal-plagued Attorney General Alberto
 Gonzales when he was White House counsel, including one who has been
 directly linked to emails concerning Karl Rove's involvement in the
 politically- motivated firing of eight U.S. Attorneys. [,
 3/21/07] The news comes barely a week after Romney backed Gonzales on Larry
 King Live, saying it was too soon to determine whether he should be fired,
 which raises the question of whether this explains Romney's support for
 Gonzales, and whether these three former White House lawyers were vetted to
 see if they played any role in the Attorneys' firings. [Larry King Live,
     "This week, Mitt Romney has given the voters a revealing look at the
 real candidate behind all the smooth talk," said Democratic National
 Committee spokesman Damien LaVera. "Simply put, smooth talking Mitt
 Romney's blunders this week suggest that he just isn't ready for prime
 time. If Romney can't even vet his fundraisers to make sure they aren't
 funding hate-mongering attack ads, make sure they are aren't linked to the
 Bush Administration's scandals, or accurately prepare for a speech in
 Miami, how can the voters possibly trust him to run our country?"
     The following is a fact sheet on Romney's rough week:
     Wednesday -- Romney Fundraisers Linked to U.S. Attorneys Scandal
     Emails Link Romney Event Co-Host To Controversy Surrounding U.S.
 Attorney Firings. Emails released by the Justice Department shows direct
 involvement by "Lawyers for Romney" event host David Leitch in the
 dismissal of eight U.S. Attorneys. The email says, "David - Karl Rove
 stopped by to ask you (roughly quoting) 'how we planned to proceed
 regarding US Attorneys, whether we were going to allow all to stay, request
 resignations from all and accept only some of them, or selectively replace
 them, etc.' I told him that you would be on the hill all day for the
 Judge's hearing, and he said the matter was not urgent." [Email from Colin
 Newman, Office of White House Counsel, to David Leitch, Deputy White House
 Counsel, 1/9/05]
     Three Co-Hosts of "Lawyers for Romney" Event were Gonzalez Deputies
 During Run-up to Firings. Brad Berenson, Timothy Flanigan, and David
 Leitch--all former deputies to then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales-
 are co-hosts of an upcoming "Lawyers for Romney" kick-off event. Leitch,
 who remained at the White House after Gonzales went over to DOJ, was the
 official whose name has popped up in the January 2005 email titled
 "'Questions from Karl Rove' regarding how to deal with U.S. Attorneys in
 Bush's second term. Leitch forwarded the message, sent from another White
 House aide, over to Kyle Sampson, Gonzales's recently departed Chief of
 Staff." Brad Berenson now represents Sampson. [Jonathan Martin's Blog,
 Politico, 3/20/07]
     Romney: We Should Not Rush to Judge Gonzalez. Romney told Larry King,
 "We collect facts and interview witnesses before we convict. And we don't
 have that information yet." [Larry King Live, CNN, 3/15/07]
     Tuesday -- Romney Finance Co-Chair Funded Group Linked to Hitler Ad
     Voice the Vote PAC Produced Ad Comparing Democrats to Adolf Hitler. In
 2006, the Detroit-based political action committee Voice the Vote ran an ad
 in the Michigan Chronicle newspaper that featured photographs of Hitler,
 Jennifer Granholm and former Democratic presidents. The ad claimed Granholm
 was the latest of a growing list of Democratic politicians to take the
 black vote for granted. [Detroit Free Press, 3/15/07]
     -- Voice the Vote Bankrolled by Rakolta and Cummings Families. Detroit
 political consultant Adolph Mongo solicited contributions from the families
 of John Rakolta and Peter Cummings to fund Voice the Vote political action
 committee. John Rakolta and his wife each donated $5,000 to Voice the Vote.
 The Cummings each contributed $5,000 to the group. [Detroit Free Press,
     -- John Rakolta Named as National Finance Co-Chair for the Romney
 Campaign. Romney named John Rakolta, Jr., as National Finance Co-Chair.
 Rakolta serves on Romney's Florida statewide Finance Steering Committee.
 John Rakolta is also Scott Romney's former brother-in-law. [Romney Press
 Release, 2/22/07; Associated Press, 1/5/07; Boston Globe, 9/24/05]
     Monday -- Romney Blasted For Botched Cuban Outreach
     "Empty Suit" Romney Embraces Castro Rhetoric. Romney triggered outrage
 in Miami by quoting Cuban dictator Fidel Castro's traditional sign-off line
 "patria o muerte, venceremos" -- a "Communist rallying cry" which means
 "Fatherland or death, we shall overcome." The incident and Romney's woeful
 explanation of it prompted one local activist to call him an "empty suit,"
 while others criticized his lack of preparation on Cuban issues. [Miami
 Herald, 3/20/07; Boston Herald, 3/21/07]
     Romney Response Worsens Scandal, Claimed Castro Phrase Belongs to "Free
 Cuba." Scholars and prominent Cubans said "Patria o muerte, venceremos" has
 always been a Communist rallying cry and that it represents the oppressive
 regime of Fidel Castro. Florida state Representative Rene Garcia said, "It
 means communism. It means Fidel Castro. It's a Communist catch phrase."
 However, Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said, "The phrase belongs to
 liberators, not oppressors. It doesn't belong to Fidel Castro. It doesn't
 belong to Hugo Chavez. It belongs to a free Cuba." Garcia said Romney was
 "ill-advised" to mention the saying, especially at the epicenter of the
 Cuban- American struggle. Garcia said, "When you come into our community,
 you should be a little better-prepared." He added that Romney's comments
 "left a negative taste with local officials." [Boston Herald, 3/20/07]
     Romney Offended Cuban Americans with Stereotypical Comments. Romney
 delivered a speech to the Miami-Dade Republican Party that was heavy on
 anti- communist rhetoric but full of errors. First, he condemned the
 Venezuelan president who has embraced Castro. Romney said, "Hugo Chavez has
 tried to steal an inspiring phrase -- Patria o muerte, venceremos. It does
 not belong to him. It belongs to a free Cuba." Actually, the quote belongs
 to Castro who is abhorred in the Cuban American community. The quote, for
 many Cuban Americans, represents the oppressive regime of Fidel Castro.
 Then, "he punctuated his speech with 'Libertad, libertad, libertad!' to
 show his support for freedom in Cuba. But to some, he was echoing a line
 from Scarface, a movie notorious for its stereotyped portrayal of Cuban
 immigrants." [Miami Herald, 3/19/07]
     Paid for and authorized by the Democratic National Committee, This communication is not authorized by any
 candidate or candidate's committee.

SOURCE Democratic National Committee