Romney’s Jeremiah Wright?

On-and-off Republican front-runner Mitt Romney.<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mittromney/6312566574/in/photostream">Mitt Romney</a>/Flickr

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CBS News has obtained an interesting internal memo from the Romney presidential campaign:

With a primary strategy focused on winning New Hampshire, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is set to pick up the endorsement…[of] Rep. Charlie Bass, but an internal campaign memo points [out] the potential downside of associating closely with the veteran congressman — his lack of purity on tax increases.

“Note that as we’re touting Charlie’s fiscal bona fides, he was one of 40 House Republicans to sign off on the letter to the super committee a few weeks ago saying they are open to revenue increases,” says the email from Jim Merrill, Romney’s top New Hampshire strategist. “He says he means through eliminating loopholes or simplifying the tax code, but conservatives don’t trust Charlie and are guessing this means he’ll vote to raise taxes. No way to avoid it — it’s part of the Charlie package. I’m sure it’ll come up.”

The leaked memo illustrates how sensitive the Romney campaign is about big chunks of the conservative base thinking Romney is a closet liberal.

In the real world, the support of Rep. Bass, a starkly ordinary East Coast Republican, shouldn’t be an actual problem for Romney. It’s not like this guy’s Jeremiah Wright, or anything; all he did was float the idea of possible revenue increases (much like another Republican you might recognize). This was, of course, after the New Hampshire representative’s years of support for a balanced budget amendment, his vote in favor of the Ryan budget, and earning a 89-percent grade on free market principles from the Cato Institute.

Unfortunately, Romney is deep in the GOP’s 2012 primary-election universe, a world in which an endorsement from a Republican with small tax hikes on the mind is anathema, but palling around with a tough-guy sheriff with white nationalist ties is somehow kosher.

This post has been edited for clarity.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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