Smooth PR Move: Romney Campaigns with Convicted Drug Trafficker

Most know former governor and perpetual candidate Mitt Romney as a squeaky-clean, upright citizen: Family man, church elder and decorated veteran of the public and private sectors, Romney has never had a sip of alcohol in his life—and he certainly wouldn’t know anything about the shady business that has made Miami one of the nation’s top entry points for illegal drugs like, say, cocaine.

Despite all this, the Romney campaign made a bit of a PR miscalculation yesterday by holding an event at a juice shop owned by a convicted drug trafficker.

We certainly understand why local businessman and Romney supporter Reinaldo Bermudez would not be a big fan of government regulations: He received a three-year federal prison sentence in 1999 for his admitted role in a 12-man smuggling ring caught attempting to sneak a ton of cocaine into three south Florida ports. Romney’s people apparently thought this was all good: Bermudez told the Miami New Times blog that the campaign and the Secret Service “absolutely knew about my record.” He even took a moment to wax philosophical, noting that “…there are a lot people with money who have had problems with the law,” but “Everybody deserves a second chance.”

Can’t disagree there, but we have to wonder whether Romney’s team truly thought local and national media outlets would ignore this tawdry detail. The governor didn’t just pose with best bud and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, give a stump speech and pass juice out to the crowd: His crew filmed a campaign ad on location. Our two cents? Bad idea, guys.

Does this incident say anything about Mr. Romney’s character, his personal disposition or his ability to run the world’s largest economy? Of course not. And Romney supporters have been quick to point out that President Obama’s memoirs contain stories of college drug use, so that “conversation” will clearly go nowhere fast. But we do think that Mitt’s PR team should go sit in the time-out corner and think about what they did.

He might even need to send them to bed without their supper.