Quote IconThe film’s main revelation is that the family’s Hallmark public image seems to be pretty close to accurate. Ann is a sane and stabilizing presence, urging Mitt to “get a little something in [his] tummy” as they sit together in their hotel room before his first debate against Obama. When Romney nails one Republican debate, she looks about to faint from pride. “You knocked ‘em dead!” she says, and musses his hair. The square-jawed Romney sons, of which there are allegedly five, also make for likable characters. Their clear admiration for their father is the movie’s central humanizing force. Even their platitudes, i.e. “If you don’t win, we’ll still love you,” have the ring of simple, straight-faced truth.

The Best Thing to Come Out of the Romney Campaign: This Documentary Movie

Mitt Romney’s specious welfare attack 

It so happens that when Mitt Romney came to Ohio yesterday that I was able to catch one of his appearances, speaking to hundreds of coal miners in Beallsville. As expected, Romney hit President Obama for his “war on coal” (never mind that Romney in 2003 stood outside a coal-fired plan in Salem, Mass. and said that it “kills people.”) But he got his biggest applause during this riff: 

Alec MacGillis — The Welfare Card And The Post-Truth Campaign 

Why the Republican Party can’t renounce Sheldon Adelson.

In 2008, Sen. John McCain returned $50,000 when questions arose about how its donor had scored a defense contract. In February, President Obama returned more than $200,000 donated by several men linked to drug and assassination allegations in Mexico. These decisions reflected the basic calculation that it is worth more, politically, not to be tainted by questionable funds than to have the money to spend. Given the comparatively paltry sums, they were no-brainers.

But what about when many, many millions of dollars are at stake? What about when the donor is Sheldon Adelson, and he has given or pledged to give more than $70 million (!) to Republican groups this cycle? When he was put front-and-center at Mitt Romney’s speech in Jerusalem, and when Rep. Paul Ryan is headed to a fundraiser at the Adelson-owned Venetian three days after being announced as the vice-presidential nominee? What happens when a donor is, in effect, too big to fail? (Disclosure: I totally lost some money at the Venetian’s blackjack tables three years ago. It’s not the source of my agitation.)

Marc Tracy — Sheldon Adelson: No One Man Should Have All That Power

Jonathan Cohn offers a guide to understanding Paul Ryan.

Many millions of working-age Americans would lose health insurance. Senior citizens would anguish over whether to pay their rent or their medical bills, in a way they haven’t since the 1960s. Government would be so starved of resources that, by 2050, it wouldn’t have enough money for core functions like food inspections and highway maintenance. And the richest Americans would get a huge tax cut.

This is the America that Paul Ryan envisions. And now we know that it is the America Mitt Romney envisions.

Of course, we should have known that already. Romney committed himself to the Ryan agenda during the presidential primaries, both by embracing the Ryan budget rhetorically and specifically proposing key features of Ryan’s agenda, starting with a tight cap on federal spending. But if anybody doubted that Romney was serious about these commitments, the Ryan pick should put those doubts to rest. Maybe Romney sincerely believes these ideas are right for the country and maybe he feels that endorsing them is necessary to please his party’s base. It really doesn’t matter. It’s the way he intends to govern.

Jonathan Cohn — “Six Things to Know About Ryan (and Romney)

Why Chris Christie isnt going to be the VP.

Romney is not going to pick Chris Christie to be his running-mate. How do I know? He told me. 

Ha! Just kidding. Got you for a second there, didn’t I, Andrea Mitchell? You should have seen the look on your face!

No, I can tell you that Romney is not going to pick Christie because the New Jersey governor does things like host an Iftar dinner for New Jersey Muslims and then use the occasion to call out fellow Republicans for being “bigots” against Muslims. “I’ll tell you,” said Christie, “there is a gaze of intolerance that is going around our country that is disturbing to me.” 

Amy Sullivan  Romney Meets with the Islamaphobes

Noam Scheiber offers an inside look at the Romney campaign’s chief strategist.

BEFORE HE EARNED his reputation as one of the best ad men in politics, before he wrote for several major television shows, and long before he became Mitt Romney’s top campaign strategist, Stuart Stevens found himself in Cameroon, face to face with a machine-gun-wielding soldier looking to shake him down. It was 1988, and a few weeks earlier, Stevens had deposited himself in the nearby Central African Republic to pick up a friend’s Land Rover and drive it back to France. But the trip was a disaster from the get-go. Local officials confiscated the car and refused to release it. Weeks passed before he could find a roadworthy replacement. By the time Stevens finally got moving, he discovered that his maps were unreliable, the roads nearly impassable, and the local bureaucrats inhospitable. Distances drivable within a few hours in the United States gobbled up days.

And then Stevens arrived at a military roadblock in Yaoundé, the Cameroonian capital. “When [the soldier] jerked the bag from my hands and spat, ‘Open!,’ tottering back on his heels, I realized he was drunk,” Stevens wrote in his book Malaria Dreams. Stevens surveyed the soldier’s comrades; they were all drunk. Soon the two men were locked in a tense back-and-forth, with the soldier lifting each possession from his briefcase, and Stevens shaking his head no. Eventually, the soldier settled on a tape recorder. “You give to me!” he shouted, snatching the device. Stevens stopped his hand. “Twelve hours ago I would have parted with a small item, say the three-dollar penlight,” he explained, “but now I was steeled to see it through.” They stared at each other; the other soldiers stiffened. Finally, Stevens’s African driver had the sense to slip the looter a bribe, and the showdown ended. The soldiers waved the car through.

Noam Scheiber — The Square and the Flair 

Is the conservative press misreporting the candidates tax plans?

Twenty-four hours later, the conservative reaction to a devastating report about Mitt Romney’s tax plan is proving almost as interesting as the report itself.

The report, published by the Brookings-Urban Tax Policy Center, demonstrated that Romney’s plan, if implemented, would reduce taxes for the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans but increase taxes for everybody else. It’s one part of a larger agenda that would likely require, thanks to a proposed cap on federal spending, deep cuts to key government programs touching everything from health care to education to law enforcement.

As I said yesterday, if you’re like most Americans, this is a plan to undermine your government services and stick you with a higher tax bill, all so Romney and his pals in the penthouse suite can keep more of their money.

Jonathan Cohn — Romney on Taxes: Deny, Distract, Dissemble

Jonathan Cohn offers a close look at the candidates tax plans

Attention middle-class Americans: One of the men running for president wants to raise your taxes. And it’s not the guy who has the job already.

For some time, Mitt Romney has been promising to reduce income tax rates and then pay for these cuts by closing loopholes. But he’s never specified which loopholes he’d close and now we know why. A new analysis from the Brookings Institution (and first reported byLori Montgomery in the Washington Post) suggests that, in order to lower tax rates without increasing the deficit, Romney would have to close loopholes that benefit middle-class Americans as well as the wealthy. The end result, if I’m reading the report correctly, would be lower taxes for the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans but higher taxes on everybody else. (See the graph below, which Steve Benen of Maddowblog constructed based on the report’s findings.)

Jonathan Cohn — Sure, Mitt Romney Will Lower Your Taxes—If You’re Part of the Richest Five Percent

Why was Mitt Romney so unprepared for the tax question?

Mitt Romney arrives back stateside and just like that, his refusal to release more than a year or two of tax returns is back in the news. Harry Reid is telling people that a big Bain Capital investor told him that Romney told him that he didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years. OK, that sounds like something out of a seventh-grade cafeteria, but then again there’s also an easy way for Romney to knock it down. Which again raises the question: What can possibly be in the returns to make them so dicey to release? Lurking behind that question, though, is a related one that has gotten less attention: Why in the world did someone who has been running for president since late 2006 not years ago rid his personal finances of anything that could cause problems in a campaign—Swiss bank accounts, Cayman Island shelters, questionable IRAs, etc? After all, Romney is nothing if not a cautious, details-oriented fellow—this is someone who held a videotaped family summit before deciding whether to run for president. Why would he not have fixed his finances as carefully as his coiffure before venturing out onto the stage?

Alec MacGillis — “The Larger Question About Romney’s Taxes: Why?

What’s behind the Mormon relationship with Israel?

During their trip to Israel this past Sunday, Mitt Romney and his wife Ann, made an unscheduled stop at one of Judaism’s holiest sights, the Western Wall. As is customary, Romney, donning a black yarmulke and bowing his head, spent several solemn minutes at the wall—the largest remnant of the Second Temple, which Roman armies destroyed around 70 CE. Later at a speech in Jerusalem’s Old City, Romney collapsed America’s security interests with those of Israel. Quoting at length from the late Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Romney declared, “[We] now have the responsibility to make sure that never again will our independence be destroyed, and never again will the Jew become homeless and or defenseless.”

Many see Romney’s staunchly pro-Israel stance as a political play for the Jewish vote, both in America, and in Israel (there are some 250,000 American citizens living in Israel and the vast majority of those voted for John McCain in 2008). Romney was also clearly after some Israeli campaign cash; the candidate raked in $1 million dollars from just 45 donors at his fundraiser on Monday.

Max Perry — “Mormonism’s Occasionally Unrequited Love for Israel