Will Bad Press Hurt Romney With Women?

An "October surprise" and a lawmaker's remarks on abortion may cost him votes.

Richard Mourdock; Mitt Romney; Gloria Allred (Getty Images)
Richard Mourdock; Mitt Romney; Gloria Allred (Getty Images)

Updated Thursday, 1:58 p.m. ET, October 25: Mitt Romney’s testimony in the Stemberg divorce case has been unsealed, according to the Boston Globe. Information on the nature of his testimony is not yet available.


(The Root) — After experiencing one of the best weeks of his campaign following the first presidential debate, which pundits universally declared to be a decisive win for him, Mitt Romney is now experiencing one of the most tumultuous weeks of his campaign. After his disappointing performance in the third and final presidential debate on foreign policy, the Romney campaign has had to grapple with two potential “October surprises” in the closing days before the election.

Gloria Allred, an attorney best known for her involvement in high-profile cases, among them representing women involved in the Tiger Woods scandal, is representing Maureen Stemberg Sullivan, the ex-wife of Tom Stemberg, the Staples mogul and Romney campaign supporter. On Tuesday Sullivan, with Allred by her side, appeared in court in support of the Boston Globe’s efforts to “lift an impoundment order on Romney’s testimony” in the Stemberg’s acrimonious and lengthy divorce dispute. According to reports, Romney, a close friend of Stemberg and whose company Bain Capital was an early investor in Staples, provided testimony about Stemberg’s finances.

A judge will be holding a hearing on Thursday to decide whether or not to unseal Romney’s testimony, while Romney’s legal team requested additional time to wade through pertinent documents. Romney’s lawyer has said he does not anticipate objecting, though he wants to review the entire transcript.

A number of unsubstantiated rumors are flying around cyberspace regarding the nature of Romney’s testimony and how it ultimately affected the outcome of the Stemberg’s divorce settlement details. There is a potential real danger for the Romney campaign, particularly in the timing of the allegations. They come on the heels of an even more potentially significant “October surprise,” one that some pundits are theorizing could have an impact on the outcome on Election Day.

Since Tuesday the Romney campaign has been in full crisis mode following Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock‘s remarks about rape and abortion in a debate. Mourdock said, “The only exception I have to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother. I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Romney had not only recently endorsed Mourdock but had also filmed an ad in support of the Tea Party-backed candidate, who has struggled to reach moderate voters. While the Romney campaign has said the governor disagrees with Mourdock’s comments, it has declined to pull the ad, something that DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz said during a Wednesday conference call is indicative of the national GOP’s embrace of extremist positions on women’s health issues.