Washington (CNN) – No one is accused of breaking the law. And who considers a spat about hard drives and emails sexy?
But the chair of the Democratic National Committee charged Mitt Romney's staff with "unconscionable" acts, and the Romney team accused the Obama administration of being willing to "say and do anything to hold onto their power."
It's a glimpse of just how nasty a general election battle would be between the former Massachusetts governor and President Barack Obama.
"The last thing they want to do is run against Mitt Romney in the general election," Romney communications director Gail Gitcho told CNN, referring to the Obama campaign. "In this case they have deployed or activated the (current Massachusetts Gov. Deval) Patrick Administration to do their dirty work."
"That's an interesting distraction," added Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the DNC.
They're both reacting to a Boston Globe report from Thursday detailing that when Romney's term as governor ended, 11 of his aides legally purchased the hard drives from their government computers - taking their emails and advice to the governor with them.
According to the Globe, Romney's successor Gov. Patrick "has been bombarded with inquiries for records from the Romney era" but "has no electronic record of any Romney administration e-mails."
Patrick, a Democrat, is a friend of Obama and campaigned for him in 2008.
This Globe report set off a volley of angry legal letters. Team Romney requested that Patrick turn over all email between his staff and Obama's top political aides (some of whom have also worked for Patrick) and accused Patrick of using his staff as "an opposition research arm of the Obama re-election campaign."
The DNC responded with a request for all email from Romney's gubernatorial administration related to the purchase of computer hard drives and emails with embarrassing subjects including "destroy records" and "flip-flop."
Democrats, many of whom expect Romney to become the Republican presidential nominee, are seizing on the story.
"Mitt Romney was planning to run for president towards the end of his administration, and the public has the right to know what kinds of communication were going on while he was beginning to plan that campaign," said Wasserman Schultz. "It is absolutely unconscionable, inexcusable that the records of those conversations or any conversations would have been wiped clean of servers."
The Romney campaign points out that the governor archived 700 boxes of public documents–press releases, speeches, and the like.
Why did so many aides buy their hard drives?
"You know a lot of people probably didn't want their hard drives subject to an opposition research dig, which is what we are seeing happen now," Gitcho said. "I do know this has been a long standing practice and everything has been done with complete compliance with the law."
When asked about the hard drives on the campaign trail, Romney Friday brushed it off as typical presidential season politics.
While Romney is still fighting the GOP primary battle, the Democrats are free to focus their firepower on the former governor. The Obama team has decided he's the likely Republican opponent. They're trying to define him early as a flip-flopper, a candidate who lacks core values, and as someone who will do anything to get elected.
Wasserman Schultz told CNN: "Mitt Romney has a very clear track record of trying to reinvent himself, start over, flip-flop on major–issues."
All this before the first votes have been cast in the primary and caucus season, set to begin Jan. 3.