When it comes to Mitt Romney's controversial private sector background, there's widespread disagreement about the potency and efficacy of Democratic criticism. The polls have been pretty steady for months, and for every pundit who says Bain Capital attacks are making a difference, there's another to say the opposite.
But we can now say with certainty that Romney and his campaign team are convinced the criticisms matter a great deal. How do we know for sure? Because Romney just hired a lobbyist specifically to help address his Bain problem.
Michele Davis, a former top aide to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, has told colleagues that she will join the Romney campaign to lead a vigorous effort to defend his career in the private sector, a source told BuzzFeed Wednesday.
Davis is currently a partner at the Brunswick Group in Washington, D.C., a corporate public relations and strategy firm.... Davis brings experience of navigating the highest levels of government and media, and a reputation as one of the most capable hands at the intersection of finance, government, and the press. She was on Capitol Hill for the drafting of the Contract with America, and was a trusted adviser at Treasury: New York Magazine described her in 2008 as Paulson's "right-hand woman."
It's hard to say whether Davis will help Romney's defense or not -- there are only so many ways to spin a story of a guy who got rich laying off American workers -- but it's worth noting that Davis was a Fannie Mae lobbyist before she joined Paulson's team at the Treasury Department.
Earlier this year, Romney blasted Newt Gingrich for having been a Fannie Mae lobbyist. Perhaps the Republican candidate has reconsidered whether "influence peddling" for the mortgage giant is really scandalous after all.
As for the political salience, if the Bain criticisms weren't taking a toll on Romney's standing, he wouldn't have hired a staffer like Davis to rescue him.