November 18th, 2011
07:41 PM ET
11 years ago

Romney vs. Democrats: War over emails escalates

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.

Filed under: 2012 • Debbie Wasserman Schultz • DNC • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. WhatWas InThem

    Ummm, it is VERY interesting that the hard drives are missing along with the tons of e-mails that undoubtedly were exchanged. One just has to ask, Why? What made them all purchase their hard drives? Is it not Government Property as it had to do with an official who was in office? How can there be Checks and Balances if any employee can just buy the government's hard drives with important information? Can any government worker purchase their hard drive also, including the President's staff? What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Mr. Romney should see to it that those hard drives are returned immediately and on an ethical basis should not have allowed them to be bought out in the first place! That should be the larger question here.

    November 19, 2011 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  2. Shauna Botwin

    Obama is afraid of running against Wall Street Mitt? Gimme a break.

    November 19, 2011 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  3. Chris

    You know, there are servers in any offices environment which connects the individucal's computers to the office infrastructure and the servers are backed up. All the email info should be on the back up.

    November 19, 2011 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  4. PETE

    I be a hell of a better if could get a hold of all Obamas schooling Info & where he worked who paid forall those colledges he went to.and a lot better off if bill Avery was in jail for all his bombings and laws he has broke and alook at Obama's dealing with Reverannd Wright,and real estate Broker ,then we see where Bear crapped in the woodsat.

    November 19, 2011 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  5. RES

    GOP can get DEMs records when they get cheney to hand over his corruption files. Oh I forgot, gop let cheney destroy them. If Obama went after bush/cheney they way gop did with clinton, they would be in jail for life!

    November 19, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  6. LegendRx

    Ok, on the count of three, One, two, three, Exchange e-mail docs. LOL!

    November 19, 2011 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  7. Nate Dogg SC

    If Romney's team continues to play this off,it makes them look like theyr hiding something. Just be open about everything an move on.

    November 19, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  8. denvervet

    I am sorry but I can't get past the fact that Mormons believe when they die the men will be Gods and rule a planet and be able to call up as many women as he wants to populate the planet.......isn't this plural marraige? Look into this religion before you vote and see what you think.

    November 19, 2011 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  9. Will

    No other governor has EVER allowed the sale of govt hard drives, so the question begs to be answer, "WHAT WAS ROMNEY TRYING TO HIDE?

    November 19, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  10. Jimboob

    I'm not a republican and no friend of Mitt (FOM) ??
    That being said, Flip Flopping or Waffling only shows that a person has an open mind and their opinions can change when given more data. Republicans that took a “No New Tax” pledge and still stick to it when it’s shown to be killing our country are the ones I would be worried about.

    November 19, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  11. Dubya

    Romney sparring with Democrats? I thought he was a Democrat.

    November 19, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  12. Paul

    What a distraction.....and lack of knowledge. They can take their computers. Those emails were long ago recorded on the server at the time they were sent and are part of government records. Both sides need to get back on their messages.

    November 19, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  13. Frank

    Is her name really Gail Gitcho?

    November 19, 2011 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  14. fla.repub

    B.O. has to do anything he can, except run on his record. Nice guy, horrible failure as our leader. anyone but barry in '12

    November 19, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  15. kd

    'I have never met a politician who is so consistently without principle.' – Barney Frank on Mitt Romney.

    November 19, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  16. socalgal

    So, the Big "O" can destroy this country in every manner conceivable, and the DNC is worried about what Mitt's employees did with their computers when moving out? No surprise!

    November 19, 2011 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
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