So John McCain’s 2008 campaign manager Steve Schmidt is back in the news assuring us (per The Hill‘s Justin Sink) that Mitt Romney’s tax returns were not a factor in McCain’s decision not to choose him as a running-mate:

He said Romney had turned over 23-years’ worth of tax returns to the McCain campaign to vet that were extremely complex. But Schmidt also said there was nothing in the documents that would have precluded McCain from picking Romney.

“Mitt Romney went through this process and what I can tell you is that he’s a person of decency with the highest ethical character and background,” Schmidt said. “There was nothing that was disqualifying. That pick in 2008 was not about any deficiency with Mitt Romney. It was a political decision that we made in a very bad political circumstance.”

Well, that clears it up, right? Not exactly, insofar as (1) Schmidt earlier said he did’t actually review Mitt’s tax returns himself; (2) he’s also said Romney’s wealth was indeed the big disqualifier; and (3) he’s an operative for a political party that thinks rich folks pay too much in taxes.

Steve Schmidt is about as reliable an authority for “vetting” Romney’s financial and tax records for us as Mitt’s buddy Donald Trump. And maybe that’s the next figure the GOP will trot out to vouch for him.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.