This week started off with a tease of two “October Surprises” – a political public relations bombshell that is so big that it can quickly change the direction of an election in the final weeks. In this election cycle, we were treated with the potential of an October Surprise against both President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. Did they live up to their hype?
The first tease was by one-time considered Presidential candidate Donald Trump. He stated that he had valuable information against the President, and he was going to release the information at noon on Wednesday. There were rumors that he was going to release information on the rumored divorce paperwork between Michelle and Barack Obama, and other rumors that it was new evidence about the Presidents birth certificate. In the end, it was something even bigger (in hype).
It turned out to be nothing more than a publicity stunt mixed with an openly-public “blackmail” offer. Trump called for the President to release his college transcripts, his college entrance applications, and his passport application. In exchange, he would donate $5 Million towards whatever charity or charities that the President chooses. That is a far cry from the tease “The Donald” offered earlier.
The second tease was by celebrity attorney and Obama supporter Gloria Allred. Reports were that she (in conjunction with the Boston Globe) was heading up to Canton, Massachusetts seeking to have testimony by Governor Romney unsealed in the hopes that there was something damaging in there that can be used against him. It was rumored that Romney gave false testimony about Staples CEO Tom Stemberg or that he talked-down the value of the company that Bain Capital was invested in. By undervaluing the company, it would deny Stembergs’ wife Maureen Sullivan Stemberg a greater settlement in the divorce.
The Boston Globe won their case to have the testimony unsealed, but Allred lost her attempt to have the gag order that currently exists on the 20-year-old case lifted so Maureen Sullivan Stemberg could tell her story. After going through Romney’s testimony, it turns out that he and Bain Capital were unsure about the future success of Staples. In addition, he didn’t exercise all the shares available to him due to his uncertainty.
In the end, both “October Surprises” were complete bombs, and both Trump and Allread flopped face first into the “mud of shame”. It is going to take a lot of soap (and time) to recover from this, especially since their attempts to hurt the credibility of the candidates might actually give them a boost in the eyes of the viewers. Trump has giving Obama sympathy for trying to make him a victim, and Allread has given Romney credibility for putting his money where his mouth is.