Over in Mike Allen’s Politico newsletter:
David Axelrod tells us the Obama campaign will make a major umbrella issue of what he calls “Romney’s penchant for secrecy”: “George Bush felt it was appropriate to release the names of his bundlers. John McCain did. But not Mitt Romney. Why did George Bush and John McCain release multiple years of tax returns, but not Mitt Romney? Why did Mitt Romney leave Massachusetts government with the hard drives from his computers, and why did his senior aides leave with the hard drives from their computers? Why won’t he be more forthcoming about some of these offshore investments?
“Harkening back to my youth, which extends far beyond yours, there was a show called, ‘I’ve Got A Secret.’ Increasingly, I think that would be the appropriate title for the Romney campaign. There are central issues, but this is a disturbing one and it goes to that question of, like, ‘Who is this guy? What does he stand for? What does he believe? What do we know about him?’”
–Axelrod, on yesterday’s NYT A1er, “White House Welcomes Donors, And Lobbyists Slip in Door, Too”: “The reason that people know who comes to the White House is because for the first time in history, the President ordered that it be so . . . Why do they know who raises money for us? Because we disclose it. The only bundlers Romney discloses are lobbyists who raise money for him, and that reason is because Barack Obama wrote a law when he was in the Senate that required that.”
The article in question:
Many of the president’s biggest donors, while not lobbyists, took lobbyists with them to the White House, while others performed essentially the same function on their visits . . .
Most donors, including Dr. Mohlenbrock and Mr. Kiani, declined to talk about their motivations for giving. But Patrick J. Kennedy, the former representative from Rhode Island, who donated $35,800 to an Obama re-election fund last fall while seeking administration support for a nonprofit venture, said contributions were simply a part of “how this business works.”
“If you want to call it ‘quid pro quo,’ fine,” he said. “At the end of the day, I want to make sure I do my part.”
Mr. Kennedy visited the White House several times to win support for One Mind for Research, his initiative to help develop new treatments for brain disorders. While his family name and connections are clearly influential, he said, he knows White House officials are busy. And as a former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he said he was keenly aware of the political realities they face.
“I know that they look at the reports,” he said, referring to records of campaign donations. “They’re my friends anyway, but it won’t hurt when I ask them for a favor if they don’t see me as a slouch.”
So Axelrod wants voters to credit the administration for being open about their “quid pro quo” meetings with donors, Democratic power brokers, lobbyists, etc.