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Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney answers a question as President Barack Obama listens during the first 2012 U.S. presidential debate in Denver October 3, 2012.  REUTERS/Rick Wilking
"My tax plan math is good. And don't just take my word for it. Ask Dick Cheney!"
Here's how Mitt Romney defended his tax plan math in a television ad released by his campaign two weeks ago:
According to a non-partisan, independent study, Barack Obama and the liberals will raise taxes on the middle class by $4,000. The same organization says the plan from Mitt Romney and commonsense conservatives is "not a tax-hike on the middle class." Want proof? Read the non-partisan study for yourself.
It was immediately obvious the ad's claim about the study's independence was bogus: the organization that released the "study" is the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank that's so tightly aligned with Republicans that Dick Cheney sits on its board.

And yesterday on Fox News, top Romney aide Ed Gillespie effectively conceded the point, admitting that AEI is in fact a "right-leaning think-tank."

GILLESPIE: AEI and other sources are very credible sources for economic analysis.

CHRIS WALLACE: You wouldn't say that AEI is a conservative think-tank?

GILLESPIE: I would say that it is a right-leaning think-tank. That doesn't make it not credible.

Okay, fine. In theory you can be credible and be right-leaning. And if the Romney campaign had called AEI a "right-leaning think-tank" instead of a "non-partisan, independent" think-tank, we could have a conversation. But when you describe a group as "independent" from one side of your mouth and "right-leaning" from the other side, the credibility problem is all of your own making.

Gillespie tried to defend the campaign's claim by saying that AEI is "not a partisan organization," but that's only accurate in the sense that it's not literally a part of the Republican Party. Well, sure, except for the part about it's run and funded by Republicans.

It's obvious what the Romney campaign was trying to say when they described AEI as both "non-partisan" and "independent": they were trying to convince voters to believe Romney's tax plan math ads up because an independent, trustworthy, unbiased third party group said it did.

And the bottom-line is that as even Ed Gillespie conceded, AEI isn't what the Romney campaign made it out to be. And if the Romney campaign can't even be honest in what it claims other people are claiming about Romney's tax plan, why should anyone believe what he claims about it?

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