To win the White House, every viable candidate needs a compelling rationale that relies on biography at least as much as ideology. But the impressive resume that lies at the heart of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has created more controversy than confidence during this election cycle so far. His record as Governor of Massachusetts included not only a “socialistic” health-care reform with an individual mandate, but featured tax increases too — all anathema to the Republican base. His private equity career, which made him a millionaire many times over, left a strong residue of bitterness among the thousands whose livelihoods were destroyed in buyouts and bankruptcies.
If Mitt can’t tout Romneycare or Bain Capital, what’s left for him to talk about? There’s still his rescue of the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, whose organizing he took over when the winter games were threatened by a burgeoning corruption scandal. Romney wrote a book recounting the entire episode, titled Turnaround, which led directly into his first gubernatorial campaign only days after the games concluded.
But ten years later, a series of articles by investigative reporter Wayne Barrett in the Daily Beast shows how Romney is currently cashing in on his Olympic connections — by raising enormous sums of campaign money from businessmen tainted by the Salt Lake bribery scandal. Although the Barrett series has attracted far less attention than it deserves, to date, he risks drawing fresh scrutiny to his relationships with those tainted figures whenever he mentions the subject (which will inevitably arise as this year’s Summer Olympics begin).