In football they call it a Hail Mary:
For several days, reports have circulated that attorney Gloria Allred–who always seems to surface when a Democrat is in trouble–is about to drop an “October surprise” on the Romney campaign.
Speculation has surrounded a story published last week by the left-wing website AlterNet, purporting to tell the story of women who claimed Mitt Romney advised them in the 1980s, in his capacity as a church leader, against having abortions.
There is only one problem: the story is not new, and Breitbart News already discussed several aspects of the tale in January 2012, including the false claim that Romney had been insensitive to women in his congregation. One woman he had counseled against having an abortion, and who carried her baby to term, told Vogue in February she was grateful to Romney for his help, though she later decided to leave the Mormon church.
There is perhaps reason to believe that this is the tactic Allred is preparing to use against Romney–and that she may be doing so in coordination with the Obama campaign.
In a speech on Friday in Virginia, President Barack Obama unveiled a new attack against his rival, accusing him of “Romnesia” (Romney + amnesia) about his past positions. The media treated the word as an innovation.
But the term has a prior–and specific–history.
According to the AlterNet article, which was published last Wednesday, “Romnesia” was the term created by Mormon feminists to describe his inability to recall specific details of his advice on abortion to female congregants. (Questions about Romney’s position on abortion, and his role as a church leader, first arose during his campaign for U.S. Senate in 1994.)
Considering Obama’s campaign record some kind of “October Surprise” seems fairly likely. But if this is all they got they better get used to saying “President Romney.”
Obama “won” his first election when he surprised his opponents (including the incumbent, his former mentor Alice Palmer) with last-minute legal challenges to their nomination petitions and got them all knocked off the ballot. In 2004 he surprised Blair Hull and Jack Ryan with some dirty laundry. Some people believe the 2008 Wall Street collapse was conveniently timed to aid Obama’s victory over John McCain.
But this story is old news – the alleged incident took place thirty years ago and was first used against him by Ted Kennedy way back in 1994. Even if we were to assume the story is mostly true it isn’t exactly scandalous – Mitt is running as a pro-life candidate. (“Breaking news, a pro-life church leader gave pro-life advice!“) I’m pretty sure his position on abortion has been factored in by most people by now.
But could there be a different surprise coming? If so, what could it be? It would be irresponsible not to speculate, so let’s talk about it.
To make a big splash a story would pretty much have to involve sex and/or drugs. Another “Mitt was a bully” or “Mitt is a heartless capitalist” story won’t cut it. Unless there is some kind of official documentation allegations of domestic violence wouldn’t be credible. I doubt a “Mitt hired an illegal alien” claim would have much effect either.
Mitt is too squeaky clean for anonymous allegations of drug use to fly. Someone with proof they smoked pot with Mitt back in the 60’s probably wouldn’t hurt him anyway. Neither would some woman coming forward to claim she was his lover before he married Ann. Allegations of something more serious, like an extramarital affair, sexual harassment or sexual assault would need substantial corroboration to make a difference at this point in the race.
One thing is for sure, if Mitt has any skeletons in his closet he knows exactly what they are and he’s ready for them. I’m guessing if the Obama campaign tries a big surprise it will turn out to be an epic nothingburger.
But that won’t stop them from trying.