The American people face an important choice in November. They will either re-elect President Barack Obama for another four-year term, or they will replace him with Governor Mitt Romney. Rather than recapitulate the case against a second term for the incumbent, let’s scrutinize eight of the top prevailing arguments against electing his Republican challenger. Each of the following anti-Romney indictments has been advanced — explicitly, or through surrogates — by the president’s campaign and the Democratic Party. Below you’ll find my sincere attempt to address these criticisms in a balanced and honest way, even as I openly and transparently admit my conservative leanings at the outset. I will attempt to rate each claim as as either true, fair, unfair, or false — and will aim to offer verification of my facts through embedded links to credible, reliable, and non-partisan sources:

Criticism #1 – Mitt Romney seems secretive because he won’t release more than two years of his personal tax returns. Rating: Fair and mostly true.

Governor Romney is a very wealthy man, with an estimated net worth in excess of $200 million. Born poor, Romney’s father worked hard and ultimately became a hugely successful executive in the auto industry. He was later elected governor of Michigan, then fell short in an unsuccessful presidential bid. When George Romney died, he left a large inheritance to his children, including Mitt, who donated his share to charity. Mitt Romney earned his own sizable fortune over a lengthy and “sterling” private sector career in finance. Now that he is running for president, critics have questioned why Romney hasn’t released more than two years of tax returns, citing a precedent set by his father in 1968. No one disputes that Romney has filed all of the legally-required financial disclosure documents for a presidential run, but he has declined to make any more tax records public. Some conservatives, including yours truly, have urged him to divulge more information. Given the feeding frenzy among his opponents over this issue, it is very unlikely that he will comply at this stage. What we do know is that Romney hasn’t encountered any trouble from the IRS — suggesting legal compliance — and that the McCain campaign Vice Presidential vetters who waded through decades of Romney’s tax documents in 2008 have stated Romney’s taxes are paid in full (and the former governor may have even slightly overpaid in some instances). Romney also asserts he hasn’t paid a lower income tax rate than 13 percent in the last ten years, but that number cannot be confirmed without further documentation. The Romney’s have donated prodigious amounts of money to charity over that period, including to his church, veterans groups, and medical research foundations.

Criticism #2 – During his tenure at Bain Capital, Mitt Romney shipped American jobs overseas, was a “pioneer” in the practice of outsourcing, and may have committed a felony by lying to the SEC. Rating: False.

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