With the Republican Convention kicking off tomorrow following a 1-day delay, there has been a lot of talk about Romney's acceptance of the party nomination. Some still believe that Ron Paul has a shot, but most have resigned themselves to the fact that they are running with Mitt on the Republican ticket. While the addtion of Ryan has made this an easier pill to swallow, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about Romney's background. And Romney has a bad habit of trying to paint any question of his record or history as an attack, even when it's people just trying to get to know him.
Romney's background is still largely unknown. There is very little public documentation that tells us anything about his business dealings, though there are some serious questions (like, how he managed to end up with an IRA account worth $100 Million when the maximum yearly deposit for such an account is $100K) about what he's done to become wealthy and stay that way. Two of the biggest questions have been around Romney's work at Bain Capital, and Romney's tax returns.
As for Bain, Romney has claimed that he left in 1999. Since then, documents have surfaced, including tax information, that link Romney to an active role in the company up until 2010, more than a decade after he claimed to be done with them. Not only that, but these documents also show some potentially illegal tax evasion by Romney that allowed him to bypass certain tax obligations and save himself millions.
But going beyond these questions, Romney remains vague on other issues. He has yet, for example, provided any specifics on his plans for the economy, and his own positions have shifted so many times that no one knows what he believes in today. As for social issues, Romney has moved far to the Right to garner support from a base that is, at best, lukewarm about his nomination. But that has come at the expense of the undecided's and the moderates (therefore, possibly at the expense of the election). Through all of this, Romney has added no substance to his campaign, except to add Ryan to the ticket, who is nothing if not substantive. However, that is no excuse for Romney to not give details on his positions.
Romney has explained that his speech at the convention will be an all-out attack on Obama. This has several drawbacks. First, it's preaching to the choir. He's guaranteed to get a warm reception if he just gets up there and complains about his political opponent to a crowd of birthers, xenophobes, and right-wing nuts. Second, such a speech is meaningless. He won't gain any new supporters, people who are going to vote for him have already made up their minds, and he runs the risk of saying something stupid. The third problem is that it still refrains from a specific message. Romney's not giving any details on his plan, no matter how much Fox News tries to explain otherwise. He's not clarifying his positions, and for a person with such an inconsistent record, that's a big issue.
So, how is Mitt Romney doing? Well, in raw donations he's way ahead of Obama. He's got some polls that put him in a good spot, and he's closing the national polling gap. However, when it comes to substance, he's got about as much a balloon. Sure, he can place himself in opposition to everything that Obama has done. But all that does is make him appear solid while it leaves him full of hot air. When presidential debates begin, I think it will become painfully clear that Romney has no solid strategy, no solid ideas, and that everything is in flux. He spouts off about cutting taxes, fine, but he doesn't turn that into a real nuts-and-bolts plan. It's platitudes, and he's going to need more than that if he wants a shot.