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. roro

    This very, very, very rich man has been dying to be president for years. He's the one who will say and do anything to get into office. Why doesn't he just take his gobs of money, and go off and lead his life of luxury? He can flip and flop over all his various homes, pools, tennis courts, and whatever else people with his money have.

    November 18, 2011 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  2. Jason H

    The worst dirt Team Obama can dig up on Romney is that his aids legally purchased 11 hard drives.... yawn...

    November 18, 2011 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  3. m

    They don't need emails to show the extent of Romney's change of positions during his political career.

    November 18, 2011 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  4. scott

    nice try CNN. But there is no story here. How about a retrospective on Obama and his years at Reverend Wrights church?

    November 18, 2011 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  5. gary

    Mittens needs to concentrate on the next debacle, er I mean debate.

    November 19, 2011 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  6. Jason H

    Romney is brilliant. 11 computers legally purchased... a few hundred dollars. Preventing the type of forced political colonoscopy recently administered to Palin... PRICELESS. No wonder Team Obama is shaking in their boots.

    November 19, 2011 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  7. Joshua Ludd

    Ah, so blame the people interested in the missing emails.. do distract from the missing emails themselves and what that indicates about Romney's record and what he thought the people of Massachusetts would think of it.

    November 19, 2011 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  8. Pachecosita

    Smart Romney...get rid of evidence

    November 19, 2011 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  9. ej

    Let the games begin! If you want to be a politician, professional or otherwise, what Romney is facing is par for the course... Let's see how it plays out!

    November 19, 2011 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  10. Honk

    So Romney did what everyone else does, but lets only single him out. Obama's team is afraid as they should be.

    November 19, 2011 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  11. AQ

    Hey Romney, why not show us your own emails, texts and private messages? How about those of all those running against you in the GOP? You think the Dems are the only ones with something to hide? How about all the adultery, drugs and murder being committed in your own party!

    November 19, 2011 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  12. skarphace

    I sometimes wonder if the Tea Party only exists to make the other Republicans look more moderate. If so, they clearly succeeded. If I had to choose between Cain, Perry, Bachman, Santorum, or Romney, then Romney would get my vote easily.

    However, Romney doesn't have much chance at getting my vote over Obama. Only Paul or Huntsman would stand a good chance at doing that.

    November 19, 2011 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  13. tcaros

    OH, Romney is pulling the old KARL ROVE trick.
    – The Karl Rove trick is this: You blame someone else of what you are already guilty of doing. That way when they try and report you for doing wrong it looks like retaliation.
    -- Wo HO the old KARL ROVE trick.

    November 19, 2011 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  14. tcaros

    The old Karl Rove trick.

    November 19, 2011 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  15. Greg

    Democrats are right to be scared of Romney. He would make Obama look like a fool in a debate setting.

    November 19, 2011 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  16. Charles W. Skinner

    Debbie Wasserman Shultz – Making fools of the Democrat candidates and voters yet again. This woman needs to learn to keep her trap shut. Every other week, she's showing herself to be the hypocrite she truly is by telling Republicans "do as I say, not as the members of my party do."

    November 19, 2011 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  17. sarahH

    wow... that is boring.

    November 19, 2011 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  18. Minnie Rogers

    If only we could just get on with taking care of our people the way God wants us to do. Talk about a bunch of back-Bitters and not so nice people. Just let them get in office and see what they do. Take some of the mony that is wasted with all the foolish talk and give it to a cause that can help those of us who can'T eat today cause we had to by meds. Do something for the good of this country and not for yourself. We need help not a bunch of more lies from you rich sick and selfish , power-hungry , slick office seeker.who won't do anything but worship themselves.. Good luck Mr. President.

    November 19, 2011 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  19. jesse

    Peeeeeeeeeease..... Nothing like them fighting ove the oars in the same boat. At one of the early GOP conventions they said that they'd take a candidate that didn't necissarily have the full GOP agenda as their base. Translation, we'll do anything and say anything to get back in dominant power. The dem's aren't far off. Their only problem is that they've shown themselves to be highly unorganised internally and unable to act as a unit. See the shinanigans of the "Obamacare" reforms. What we have is two bags of sh**. The only difference between them is the color of the bag. This election term makes me want a mulligan for a new hand. >.>

    November 19, 2011 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  20. Bushper

    If you live in a glass house, never throw stones ; gut that gov Romney?

    November 19, 2011 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
  21. Gopgoobers

    Hey Romney your arms are too short to box with the DNC. I just donate to the Obama re-election campaign. Obama and the Democrats are going to take the House and the Executive office once again. When that done, the Justice Department is next.
    Vote the GOP/TP out in 2012

    November 19, 2011 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  22. Epimetheus

    What do you expect from someone that wears magic underwear? This country should fear Romney more than Obama should.

    November 19, 2011 02:44 am at 2:44 am |
  23. Marry

    In elections it was often the case that the GOP sold BAD things very well and the DEMS sold GOOD things very badly. It is high time that the GOP is called out on their “factional incorrect” statements and the voter is told what the GOP/TP are all about.

    November 19, 2011 02:46 am at 2:46 am |

    So by their logic, we should have the emails of the Obama administration too. I think it is only fair that both sides get equal access. Hypocrites all of them. Republicans and Democrats have ruined this country by attacking each other rather than coming up with solutions.

    November 19, 2011 03:03 am at 3:03 am |
  25. Wired

    No Romney, that's the republicans.

    November 19, 2011 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
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