In a bizarre twist, Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney finds himself immersed in a new imbroglio, raising questions about his candor under circumstances similar to an incident involving President Obama last month.
The Democrats are using the incident to brand Romney as deceptive and eager to hide policy proposals that might alienate voters.
The latest fuss erupted when Romney, speaking at what he thought was a private fundraiser, suggested changes in the tax laws affecting the rich, such as eliminating some deductions, in addition to possible cutbacks in federal programs at the Department of Education and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It turned out that reporters overheard his remarks, which were delivered Sunday in Florida.
Since then, the Democrats have argued that Romney has a secret agenda that he is willing to share with elites, but not with the public.
Tuesday morning, the Democratic National Committee peppered reporters with E-mails making that point. The DNC also released a web video arguing that Romney is deceptive, and a DNC spokesman asked, "What else is Mitt Romney hiding?"
Separately, Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, told reporters, "Mitt Romney has made a disturbing habit of hiding information from people, and now he's trying to hide information about his tax plan. Apparently Mitt Romney will only share details if you contribute $50,000 to his campaign."
A Romney spokeswoman said the Republican presidential candidate was only floating ideas, not announcing policy decisions. She said the Democrats were trying to divert attention from Obama's poor record on the economy.
The incident was similar to a March 26 event in which President Obama made what he thought were private remarks to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during an international conference. Those remarks were picked up on an open microphone. Obama said he needed some "space" in negotiating on nuclear issues until he wins re-election, when said he would have more "flexibility."
Republicans said the incident showed that Obama has a secret agenda that he won't share with the American people--the same charge that the Democrats are using against Romney today.