Before Mitt Romney took credit for obnoxious hecklers, he quietly shuttled campaign reporters to a press conference outside Solyndra's California headquarters. This apparently made activists on the right giddy -- Team Romney not only orchestrated hecklers, they also talked about a company that was one of many that benefited from federal loan guarantees.
If we judge presidential campaign tactics and strategies by the standards of far-right 11 year olds at recess, this was awesome.
Back here in Grown-Up Land, however, there are a couple of curious angles to today's stunt. For one thing, Romney apparently kept the Solyndra press conference a secret because of paranoid fears about White House sabotage.
"We knew, if word got out, that Solyndra would do everything in their power, and the Obama administration would do everything in their power, to stop us from having this news conference, "an unnamed adviser told reporters, per CNN.
Reporters raised the question of how this devious plot to derail the event would work given that the freedom to hold a press conference in public is a fairly basic right.
"Well, he's only the president of the United States," the adviser replied.... Romney alluded to similar concerns personally in his press conference.
"I think there are people who don't want to see this event occur, don't want to have questions asked about this particular investment," Romney told reporters when asked about the secrecy behind the event, according to the New York Times.
As a rule, putting aside policies and any personal opinions, I tend to at least consider Romney's operation to be competent and well organized. But for these guys to seriously believe the White House would sabotage a Romney press conference is deeply strange, and more than a little paranoid.
Are we to believe Romney and his team would function this way if elected?
What's more, Romney's conspiracy theories aside, there's a more substantive issue to also keep in mind: the Republican is apparently desperate to politicize failed loan guarantees, but he has the exact same kind of troubles in his own record.
Greg Sargent reports today on Karl Rove's attack operation, American Crossroads, running Solyndra-related ads, without much concern for how this issue might make its preferred candidate look.
The Crossroads video ... cites the Massachusetts company Evergreen Solar as an example of a company that received taxpayer money before declaring bankruptcy or suffering "serious financial issues" -- which the video derides as a "risky investment strategy." Romney picked up that attack line today, appearing in front of a shuttered Solyndra outlet to bash Obama.
But in 2002, three weeks into Governor Mitt Romney's term, Evergreen Solar received $2.5 million from the Romney administration for a "major expansion and to cover operating losses as it tried to become profitable," according to a February article in Politico. The investment was part of a broader program in which the Romney administration gave millions in subsidies to multiple other companies, Politico reported.
Evergreen ultimately filed for bankruptcy last year, making this case very similar to Solyndra.
It's still only May, but the sooner Romney and his allies pick up their game, and realize the time for minor-league nonsense has come gone, the better.