Since mid-May, President Barack Obama and his campaign have been attacking Mitt Romney for "shipping U.S. jobs overseas." They've suggested he made false filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission. And they've hit him for having "Swiss bank accounts and offshore investment funds in the Caymans." Before considering their political impact, let's review each of these charges.
The first allegation—that Mr. Romney "shipped jobs to China and Mexico"—was called "misleading, unfair and untrue" by the Washington Post fact checker and labeled "bunk" in an editorial. The Annenberg Center's FactCheck.org said it "found no evidence to support the claim that Romney . . . shipped American jobs overseas." Neither has anyone else. But Mr. Obama has not backed down, with his campaign spending more than $30 million to run TV ads on the subject for nearly three months.
The second charge—with its implied suggestion that perhaps Mr. Romney should be in jail rather than running for president—came in a July 12 conference call. Mr. Obama's deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, accused Mr. Romney of "misrepresenting his position at Bain" to the SEC, "which is a felony."
Three days later Mr. Obama doubled down on the incendiary charge during an interview on WAVY-TV in Portsmouth, Va. He personally attacked Mr. Romney for saying he left Bain's leadership in 1999 while, during the subsequent three years he spent running the Olympics, signing "an SEC listing that says he was the CEO, chairman, and president of the company." What the president didn't say was that this is a customary practice for CEOs who take a leave of absence from their firms. This is precisely the reason that FactCheck.org found the president's charge misleading while the Washington Post said the "facts essentially exonerate Romney."
Consider another high-profile CEO: In January 2009, Steve Jobs took a leave from Apple for health reasons. But like Mr. Romney, Jobs later signed SEC documents listing him as CEO, even though he'd relinquished day-to-day control of the company to Apple's chief operating officer. Maybe a reporter should ask Mr. Obama if he believes Jobs was a felon.