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. Romney is not a conservative . . .

    Gringrich-Cain 2012 . . . real conservatives you can count on.

    November 18, 2011 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  2. A disgusted former Republican

    Romney is continuously criticizing the President. Turnabout is fair play.

    The only reason for Romney's aides to purchase the hard drives from their government computers is to conceal public information. This is a good lesson of how forthcoming Romney will be if he wins the republican nomination. Sunshine ferrets out evil!

    November 18, 2011 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  3. ithink122

    Really easy way to solve this. Track down and turn over the hard drives. If you can't track them down because they are all "lost" or destroyed, then Romney has some explaining to do. If you can and they reveal nothing sinsister, the story goes away. Simple. The more Romney pushes against this, the worse he looks. The more he ignores it, the worse he looks. The only way to clear his name is to turn them over. If he won't or can't, that is an answer in itself to what was on them.

    November 18, 2011 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  4. dnick47

    Mitt Romney is a member of an anti-Christ sect. Pure unadularated evil – nothing moe.

    November 18, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  5. Nadeem

    Romney gets under his skin

    November 18, 2011 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  6. mk1

    You know, Mitt definitely knows what it means to say whatever is needed to win, he has done it his entire life and continues to do so. He is the king.

    November 18, 2011 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  7. noemi

    He has a lot to hide he doesn't want ppl to know how weak he is.he flip flops all over the place he has no real anything begining with values,respect for working americans he's never worked for a living and having aids do all his work doesn't count.he makes most americans very uneasy with his cult fowlers.he's not good for the ppl or our country go home.

    November 18, 2011 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  8. noemi

    He's a mormon enough said.

    November 18, 2011 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  9. AK_steve

    If you didn't have anything to hide then why would you buy your hard drive. Hmmmm....

    November 18, 2011 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  10. Klondike bar

    If he was a dolphin, they'd call him flipper.

    November 18, 2011 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  11. fred ca

    Let's see...little debbie wasserman schultz trashed people who drive foreign cars...then left the studio where she made those comments in her car (a foreign automobile which she tried to say wasn't hers). She has stated on at least 3 occasions that the economy has turned around. She has spouted putrid and hateful comments about Republicans which she knows to be untrue. And this is a small sampling of her lack of integrity. So she has the nerve to speak on this subject? As the dems have turned themselves into a party of small-minded, vicious, fraudulant pathetic jokes she is a perfect choice as their leader.

    November 18, 2011 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  12. Maeve

    Santorum needs to fold up his tent and go home. He has never been presidential material in the past and is still not presidential material. He needs to get a real job and contribute to the economy with some type of meaningful mid level employment. He is definately not a leader.

    November 18, 2011 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  13. ralk

    Just more of the same from the left...lies...always lies.

    November 18, 2011 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  14. Are you serious

    Just like when Cheney had his people use personal email accounts so they wouldn't have sensitive stuff on trackable government email accounts.

    November 18, 2011 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  15. MIke smith

    Is the republican clown car empty yet?

    November 18, 2011 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  16. Texas Doc

    Why doesn't he use his Mormon Magic Underpants powers to thwart the exil Obama meanies?

    November 18, 2011 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  17. Keith in Austin

    I am sooooooo sick and tired of the Axelrod/DNC attack campaigns! Strategy: By smearing GOP candidates, impressionable voters won't focus on Obama's deplorable record and the important issues plaguing America! First the Tea Party then Cain, Newt and now Romney!

    The FACTS are that our bloated, over-spent Government and the direction that Obama is taking our Country should scare the heck out of everyone! Wake up you Liberal Obambats! The GOP is NOT the enemy. Socialism is what will destroy the America we all love just as it has done in other countries that adopted it throughout the World!

    November 18, 2011 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  18. Clwyd

    Mitt is just another one of the 8 Stooges running as a republican for President, but we on the other side are just waiting for his turn to get foot in the mouth disease!

    November 18, 2011 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  19. SPQR

    I wouldn't believe anything Mitt Romney said even if his tongue was notarized.

    November 18, 2011 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  20. Quivley

    The accusations are spurious and silly. The D. N. C. looses credibility when it wastes our time with phony charges. .Let's get on with the Real issues of this campaign: the economy, jobs, deficit spending, the issues that make a difference in the common man's life.

    November 18, 2011 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  21. Dave

    So the Obama administration will "say and do anything to hold onto their power." That is one of the most pathetic things to come out of any of these GOP idiots. Romney has been running for President for years and he has flip-flopped on every postion he has ever taken. Then he has the audacity to claim that Obama will do and say anything to hold on to power. What a joke...

    November 18, 2011 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  22. Steve

    Wow! The dems are sure scraping for something, and that's the best they can do? Pretty sad!

    November 18, 2011 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  23. emailweb

    Ahhh yes...let's see those emails. And let's see Obamas and Bidens and everyone who has ever run for elected office.
    Wikileak them all and maybe stupid articles like this will go away.

    November 18, 2011 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  24. Terry P

    Schultz is nothing more than a political hack. No money from me this time for the Dems. I'm tired of all the broken promises!

    November 18, 2011 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  25. Jack Reynolds

    Wasserman Schultz? That's a man baby !!!!

    November 18, 2011 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
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