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. Barnacle Bill

    "the Romney team accused the Obama administration of being willing to "say and do anything to hold onto their power."

    Swift Boating...Oh, the irony. GOP – what a bunch of whining little schoolgirls.

    November 19, 2011 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  2. nic700

    Who with right political mind and power would want their dirty conversations heard and shown public? Either Romney has dirt (which i'm sure he does, I don't know if dirty emails is the only thing on him.) or not I'm sure thats the action him and his "aides" made the right decision to hide their dirt. In any case don't vote Romney, he is not going to help the U.S. the way the people want. Fools putting party before country.

    November 19, 2011 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  3. James

    It's funny how nobody cares. We all know Romney will not win the nomination.

    November 19, 2011 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  4. Michael Hobart

    When was the law passed which allowed those aides to purchase the hard drives containing their data? That strikes me as a salient point in the dispute? If it was well-established, then tough cookies on the Democrats, but it should be changed to prohibit it from now on. If it was passed while Romney was governor, then it becomes quite suspect.

    Is the practice allowed for all government staffers in Massachusetts?

    November 19, 2011 04:05 am at 4:05 am |
  5. Typical

    Typical mudslingers wallowing in their own feces......What's the old saying, "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones!".

    November 19, 2011 04:34 am at 4:34 am |
  6. bob the blue collar plumber

    sounds like another watergate

    November 19, 2011 05:49 am at 5:49 am |
  7. ComSenseWiz

    Looks like Romney out-foxed the Obummer's political hack squad and their shorts are in a knot. Sweet.

    November 19, 2011 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  8. clarke

    come on, this is just plain silly. You people need to fight like a real man.

    November 19, 2011 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  9. Dan

    The hope and change many of of were hopeful for has turned into nothing more than smoke and mirrors. We must find a way to replace the two party system we have in the US. Neither party acts in the taxpayers or the nations long term best interests and we have no real way to hold our elected officials accountable for their flagrant lies. The US govt is about as criminal as it gets.

    November 19, 2011 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  10. loreal

    I completely understand the impact of all political situations and major problems that need to be addressed prior to the American public making an informed decision as to who will be guiding the moral and financial welfare of our country, but on the other hand is the protection of our children no longer a pressing issue to those bickering about all the small " point of the matter" situations that have been deferring the national concern from child safety to political defiance of opposition parties?

    November 19, 2011 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  11. jimatmadison

    So Romney is all PO'd over a lack of emails from the Obama administration, those emails having to do with the fact that the Romney people effectively wiped out all of their own emails from Romney's governorship?

    It really is time to take all GOP presidential campaign coverage away from C-SPAN and turn it over to Comedy Central.

    November 19, 2011 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  12. Donaldbain

    Getting all of his aides to purchase their hard drives is a pretty clever way to hide things from his administration days. That being said, I can't imagine the Repubs choosing a Mormon over a mainstream or extremist Christian whether they are nitwits or loony tunes. The primaries should be entertaining.

    November 19, 2011 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  13. rs1201

    I can't stand Debbie Wasserman Shultz. She's a Jew who supports a vehement anti-semite for the Presidency. A President who has thrown Israel and the American Jewish Community under the bus and then turns around and asks for our money to help him get reelected. Either Wasserman and Obama think we're stupid of have the memories of worm or they're the ones who are stupid.
    Give it up Wasserman Shultz...your boy is not getting reelected...He's going to be sent packing come Jan 2013 and you can join him. Your support of this anti semite will not be forgotten by the American Jewish Community.

    November 19, 2011 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  14. aflyer guy

    Romney is a first class turd! He flips on every position out there. If he is the gop candidate obama will easily win 4 more years! Yeah!

    November 19, 2011 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  15. Pogo

    Its clear rommney is hiding tons of embarassing data. His record on shipping jobs to china and the bain business and the banjruptcy that followed sounds like a mafia strong arm move. Squezze all you can out the chumps and leave the investors hanging and dry while he walked away with millions. No thanks rommney salt lake isnt taking over this country yet.

    November 19, 2011 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  16. A

    Bah ha ha!!!Say and do anything to hold their power???What politician doesn't? He just told us why the country is so friggin' screwed up on both sides of the aisle. Nobody is worried about the good old USA. They are only worried about their "job" and the next election.

    November 19, 2011 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  17. Pogo

    It should be clear to all that any the repub candidates want to finish the job of destroying all oppostion to isreal in the middle east at the expense of our soldiers blood and this countries treasure. Well i for one have had enough of our gop presidents foreing policy of mass american causulites and trillions poured in the abyss of endless wars aginst countries that dare to stand up to forigen intrusion.

    November 19, 2011 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  18. jeff

    Say and do anything for power. Romney would know all about that.

    November 19, 2011 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  19. longtooth

    Take it from a life-long Massachusetts resident. Romney couldn't get elected dog catcher here after we saw how he used the office of Governor of the Commonwealth as a mere stepping stone. That squeaky clean phony has been running for president since his father failed at the same task.

    November 19, 2011 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  20. Blake

    Inwould rather read the emails about Solyndra, Fast & Furious; The Erik Holder saga, and any and all emails between Obama and other Mans Country guys, like rahm! Why is CNN so gingerly covering the O-man? So first the media lets Bush off for 8 yrears with a complete pass, by being easy and non-investigatory around his doings, now they do the same to the o-man!? I guess ad sales are more important.

    November 19, 2011 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  21. Genilyn

    Could someone PLEASE tell me how much of my tax money is gonna be spent by Obama to get re-elected? He's a likable guy, but we (USA) don't have enough money to cover the bills we have now, much less his re-election.

    November 19, 2011 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  22. Marie MD

    Goodness, the flip flopping $250M man plays like he is in kindergarten.
    Earth to the flip flopper, you are a twin of the President in the way you think and what you have legislated. As a matter of fact you are more left than the President who is more middle.
    Try selling that to your teapublikans. Face it flip flopper, you will never be president. I know you have made this your one and only job after robbing so many Americans of theirs. Maybe if one of your sons had the guts to have served I would see you in a different light.

    November 19, 2011 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  23. Grog Says

    OH MY GOD, the republicans have me in so much fear
    I must hide behind my couch, shaking like a baby......

    hahahahahahahahaha.....I DONT THINK SO.

    November 19, 2011 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  24. kevin

    Yet another pathetic attempt by Obama to distract the country from his dismal record as President. While we're discussing "records", how about you turn over all Solyndra records to the House? Now there is an investigation that is in the public interest. Taxpayer money for pet projects and donors

    November 19, 2011 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  25. diridi

    Why don't Romney produce and show to public that what all the DVDs, CDs, and Hard-Drives of computer? Is he hiding from Public? His failure Big-Dig....etc, What a Flip-Flopper....has no morale, no standard, no ethics...that is GOP idiots...

    November 19, 2011 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
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