By Mary Milliken
WASHINGTON, Nov 29 - No, the title of Extra today does not refer to Herman Cain and fresh allegations that he carried on a 13-year extramarital affair. Rather, it relates to another GOP presidential contender whose past is not exactly an open book these days: Mitt Romney.
As our reporter found in Boston, if you go asking for paper records from Romney's years as governor of Massachusetts, you are likely to be disappointed. That's because those records aren't available while the state reviews whether a 14-year-old court ruling allows its governors to keep their records secret.
The state has seen a surge of requests for records from Romney's governorship -- no surprise as opponents and media scramble to find evidence that Romney has flip flopped on key issues, from healthcare to abortion to immigration. Some people are particularly interested in knowing how the Republican got things done in a liberal state.
Romney's campaign said Democrats are behind efforts to cast the Republican as secretive. But the fact is, as the Boston Globe reported last week, his aides bought their computer hard drives as Romney wrapped up his governorship and took them home. Meanwhile, internal e-mails were wiped from the state's server. Now it's up to the state to decide whether hundreds of boxes of paper records from Romney's tenure could see the light.
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Here are our top stories from Washington and from the campaign trail:
Massachusetts considering ban on Romney records
Massachusetts officials are reviewing a state court ruling to determine whether they should ban public access to paper records generated by Mitt Romney when he was governor. Officials say the review was not prompted by a request from the Republican presidential contender, but Massachusetts officials have received a surge of requests for records from Romney's governorship. [ID:nN1E7AS18X]
Biden swoops into Iraq as US troop pullout nears
Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Baghdad in a visit to mark the end of the U.S. war in Iraq as troops complete withdrawal by year-end. Biden's trip spotlights the fulfillment of a key pledge by President Obama as he campaigns for re-election in 2012, winding down an unpopular war at a time when most Americans are preoccupied with the weak economy back home. [ID:nN1E7AS0U7]
Cain campaign crumbling after affair allegation
Republican presidential contender Herman Cain told aides he would reassess the viability of his struggling campaign after an Atlanta woman accused him of conducting a 13-year affair. The allegations could be the end of the political line for Cain, who led the race a month ago but has nosedived after a series of sexual harassment charges and campaign missteps. [ID:nN1E7AS146]
Gingrich cuts into Romney's New Hampshire lead Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich is within 10 points of rival Mitt Romney in New Hampshire, according to a poll taken after the former House speaker was endorsed by the state's largest newspaper. [ID:nN1E7AS1PD]
Crawling toward recovery: US state budgets improve
Increasing demands for healthcare and other services, along with weakening in the national economy, could knock state budgets off their current path of slow, incremental improvement. "We have growth, but it is slow. It is tepid growth. And, most importantly, we are not yet back ... to pre-recession levels," said Scott Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers. [ID:nN1E7AS0Q9]
To see what we are blogging on the 2012 Elections, go to http://blogs.reuters.com/talesfromthetrail/