The Obama campaign on Tuesday released another ad accusing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney of being an “outsourcer” of jobs.
“What a president believes matters,” the ad begins. “Mitt Romney’s companies were pioneers in outsourcing U.S. jobs to low-wage countries. He supports tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.”
“President Obama believes in insourcing.”
“He fought to save the US auto industry, and favors tax cuts for companies that bring jobs home. Outsourcing versus insourcing. It matters,” the ad concludes.
Expected to run in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, the ad is part of a larger campaign based entirely on a Washington Post article titled “Romney’s Bain Capital Invested in Companies That Moved Jobs Overseas.”
Is the article accurate? Is Romney really an “outsourcer-in-chief”? This is where things get interesting.
Lately, we’ve been impressed with the Washington Post’s (WaPo) Fact Checker for taking Team Obama to task for being less than accurate in its attacks on Mitt Romney. Does the Fact Checker have anything to say about these latest “outsourcer” ads? Well, Team Obama’s latest ad campaign, based on a Washington Post story, poses a bit of a problem.
See, the Fact Checker claims it only takes on politicians and their rhetoric. It usually stays away from claims made by newspapers, cable news, and pundits, according to the Post’s Glenn Kessler. But by not disputing the WaPo article and instead focusing entirely on how the Obama campaign has interpreted it, the Fact Checker decided to work around its long-standing rule and set the “outsourcing” record straight.
First, the article cited in the Obama ad only says that Bain was “prescient in identifying an emerging business trend — the movement of back-office, customer service and other functions out of companies that were willing to let third parties handle that business,” as the Fact Checker points out.
“This was an important shift in the U.S. business landscape, and Bain Capital caught the wave, investing in companies that … were ‘pioneers’ in the emerging market” of handling certain tasks for other companies.
That is to say, it is a bit of a stretch (to say the least) to claim that outsourcing was some exclusive to Bain Capital and that her management pioneered the practice.
Second, and this is what destroys Team Obama’s narrative, while all this “outsourcing” was going on, Mitt Romney wasn’t managing the company. The WaPo article details events that occurred post-1999 — after Romney had stepped down so that he could focus on the Olympics. In fact, the original article never even claims the outsourcing took place while Romney was in charge.
So what’s the bottom line?
The Obama campaign moved quickly to define what the article said, claiming that this transfer of jobs took place while Romney ran Bain. That’s not what the original article said.
Yet the campaign clearly seized on this report because their interpretation fit with a long-term “outsourcing” attack they have waged against Romney. One of their outsourcing ads before the article ran, in fact, earned Four Pinocchios. These new ads would not fare much better; there is little in the Post article that backs up the Obama campaign’s spin.
(Our colleagues at FactCheck.org have also offered their own analysis of the Obama outsourcing ads and the issues raised in The Post’s article, saying “some of the claims in the ads are untrue, and others are thinly supported.” The Obama campaign did not dispute the details of their analysis, except to once again claim that Romney had an active role in Bain after he left to run the Salt Lake City Olympics in 1999–a claim that FactCheck.org quickly debunked. We came to the same conclusion in January. There is no evidence that Romney played a role in Bain decisions after he left to run the Olympics.)
Simply put, the “outsourcing” campaign is total bunko.
This story has been updated.