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. sid

    Not surprised at all. Romney won't come clean, him and his camp will continue to point the finger at Obama and try to distract voters. Obama will win re-election, I look forward to their general election fight against this flip-flopping empty suit.

    November 19, 2011 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  2. jwsvt

    Would somebody tell me what happened to all of the backups?

    November 19, 2011 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  3. p.j.

    Grow up and quit acting like babies and this is suppost to run our country omg get a elementry student to run for president they would be more grownup and act more cival towards each other

    November 19, 2011 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  4. george

    Romney is a joke....It is hilarious watching him squirm over these emails..Obama is going to have fun picking on Romney...And he deserves every bit of the dems nit picking his record because he is a fraud....Now I can laugh
    hahahahahahahaha...Hey Romney you suck..

    November 19, 2011 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  5. rickinmo

    I received an email yesterday from the Romney campaign claiming Obama is desperate and will do anything to remain in power. It's not the first one I've gotten and I don't know why they are sending them to me. I've never been a Romney supporter. It appears to me that Romney is the desperate one. The republicans may well settle for him as their candidate because he appears the most presidential but, in the meantime republicans are searching for any one but Romney. He doesn't have the support of the republican base, the religious right or the anti-abortion single issue voters. He is a flip-flopper, no doubt. His strategy thus far is to find some dirt on the President, discredit him and misrepresent the President's record. Wow, what a platform. Eventually, he's going to need to show that he can repair our economy and his record won't show a record of success as Governor.

    November 19, 2011 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  6. rickinmo

    If you don't like this Mitt Romney, check back next week. There will be a new Mitt Romney.

    November 19, 2011 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  7. Victoria avgam54

    He trashed the emails because he ran our state horribly. Except for the health care act. That was a good thing contracy to what romney thinks

    November 19, 2011 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  8. Bev

    it really does not matter mitt will never win

    November 19, 2011 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  9. phil

    Sounds about par for the course for any politician, right or left. So crooked and shady and we continue to put up with it.

    November 19, 2011 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  10. Wally

    Genius! I had no idea they could take their hard drives with them when they left office. That is brilliant – why don't more politicians do it? Good for Romney having the foresight to cover his tracks – makes his run a bit smoother, I'm sure.

    November 19, 2011 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  11. Norm

    And while these two "boys clubs" of millionaires fight over who will be milking the nation's cash cows.....we the people stand on the sidelines watching like abused children.

    November 19, 2011 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  12. Bubba

    Clearly both sides are so corrupt that they simply no longer care.

    November 19, 2011 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  13. The Greedy Old Pigs are insane!

    Mitt the Flipit hypcrite strikes again. How do all you righties feel about Rove trying to cram this used car/snake oil salesman down your throats?

    November 19, 2011 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  14. Ron, hero of the New Age

    Ron, hero of the New Age, does not care about this article except that Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a vile, nasty, disgusting, vicious, disgusting PIG whose shrill hyperpartisanship is an example of why gov't cannot reach compromise.

    November 19, 2011 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  15. Debra From Georgia

    Where are the record Willard, you flip flopping crook

    November 19, 2011 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  16. BADGUY

    Obama doesn't NEED those records. Romney's actions, both in an out of politics speak for themselves. The guy made his 300 Million 'fixing" broken companies. He did that through rampant cuts in employment. The legion of unemployed from those "buy outs" tell the story most Americans will want to hear. He knows how to "fire" NOT "hire". The last guy we need to "fix" our unemployment situation!

    November 19, 2011 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  17. Tony Vaughn

    So how many millions of tax dollars is this little spat costing us? I would think that these leaders had something more constructive to do to earn their paycheck.

    November 19, 2011 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  18. Brian

    If Romney and his team have an issue, it's with the Boston Globe. I'm sure someone tipped them off, however if you're running for President, the gloves come off. After all, the RNC has shown the American people that's the way the go about their campaigns. Now they get a taste of their own. Do you like apples?

    November 19, 2011 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  19. petemg

    If there is nothing to hide, why do the Democrats balk at it. Is Obama afraid of being caught saying things over another form of "open mic"? I do not know if I agree with the request, but a lot of things have been discussed behind closed doors.

    November 19, 2011 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  20. Tony Vaughn

    oh my gosh, Romney hid something? What a surprise. what you need to do Mr. Massachusetts Gov. Patrick is get back to work. Fine Romney fifty dollars, close the case, and get busy firing the trouble makers from offices that needn't exist!

    November 19, 2011 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  21. Callie2

    Is it any surprise Romney wants to hide his Massachusetts mess? Don't forget, its the birthplace of Romneycare. Apparently, Mr. Romney is NOT a fan of transparency and there must have been some pretty damning evidence for them to go through all that trouble to avoid being held accountable for the information on those hard drives. (Hard drives that were the property of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.) They may have purchased the hard drives but shouldn't the information belong to the citizens of Massachusetts?

    November 19, 2011 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  22. RapidOne

    If he had nothing to hide, which he seemingly does, he wouldn't have a problem turning over the emails or hard drives. It's pretty fishy.

    Also, just look at the rhetoric that instantly pours out of Romney's camp like stale vomit. Attacking in ways that aren't even pertinent is a sure way, for intelligent people to see and notice, to show that you are trying to hide something through distraction. Sigh, why does a portion of this great country insist on being willfully ignorant to these demagogues? The evidence is right there and people blind themselves and pick up megaphones. What an interesting time we live in, in deed.

    November 19, 2011 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  23. RushL

    Mittens...what are your people hiding? How horrible IS it? It must have been bad to have planned the cover-up so far in advance. Leader of the Free world? Let's hope not.

    November 19, 2011 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  24. cab

    dnc: devil's national committee. Satan's work is being carried out daily by his servants – the dnc. By their fruits ye shall know them. We see you dnc, we see you.

    November 19, 2011 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  25. felixelgato

    I want to see all records of the Mormon "Church".

    November 19, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
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