The anti-Bain sentiment has been present for some time, but the Obama campaign didn't hold back Monday, blasting through the gates with a series of attacks on presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney's career in the private sector.
The re-election campaign has launched RomneyEconomics.com along with a new six minute--as well as condensed two minute--video that will air in Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Virginia, entitled "Steel." The ad features senior steelworkers from Kansas's City's now defunct GST Steel describing the erosion of their 103-year-old company after Romney and Bain took control in 1993. Reminiscent of Newt Gingrich's "When Mitt Romney Came to Town," the ad features former steelworkers bitterly rehashing memories of the decline of their company after Bain came along.
“We view Romney as a job destroyer,” one worker says. Meredith Jessup noted this morning that the campaign spot also adds a bit of class warfare into the mix: “Those guys [Romney, Bain, etc.] were all rich. They all had more money than they’ll ever spend, yet they didn’t have the money to take care of the very people that made the money for them.”
Mike Allen reported in Playbook Monday that Joe Soptic, a former employee who lost his job after Bain Capital closed the Kansas City plant, and David Foster, the lead negotiator for the workers at GST Steel, joined Obama for America Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter for the 10:45 a.m. conference call. The Hill reports on the discussion:
Romney’s record at Bain Capital is relevant because it “tells us about what kind of president he would be,” Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter told reporters.
“This is about the values Romney lived by,” Cutter said on a campaign call that followed the launch of an ad swiping at Romney’s record at Bain that is running in five swing states. “This is about whether Romney’s business experience qualifies him to make the right decisions as president.
“What exactly happened at Bain Capital that gives Romney the experience to run a national economy?” she said.
RomneyEconomics.com features profiles of Bain business dealings with Dade Behring and Stages Stores, where both companies faced extensive layoffs and filed for bankruptcy after Romney and his partners made millions. The Obama campaign describes "The Romney Model":
For nearly 20 years, Mitt Romney specialized in corporate buyouts. It’s an experience he cites as a key credential for running for president. And while it’s true that Romney’s business philosophy often led to profit for him and his partners, far too often it came at great cost to American workers and their communities.
Using what’s called a “leveraged buyout,” Romney and his investors would take control of a successful business, paying only a fraction of the total price. The rest would be paid for by loading the company up with debt, using the firm they were buying as collateral—so ultimately the company, not Romney, would be responsible for paying back the debt.
That left Romney and his partners free to extract as much profit from the companies as possible. In the face of mounting debt, the company would then be forced to cut costs—often by reducing wages and benefits, closing factories and stores, and laying off workers. Sometimes, this debt was enough to drive the company into bankruptcy.
Mitt Romney wasn’t trying to build companies for the long term. His plan was to maximize short-term profits, and then resell all or part of the business before the debts came due.
The goal was never to create jobs—the goal was to create wealth for investors, as even his former partner admitted.
Using this model, they made millions, even while driving some businesses into bankruptcy and leaving workers without jobs, health care, and pensions. Mitt Romney and his partners played by their own set of rules, and practiced a model that was profitable for a handful of corporate investors, but sometimes devastating for local communities.
This is the experience that Mitt Romney now cites as his qualification to be president, and the economic philosophy he would bring to the entire country. "
POLITICO notes that the Bain line of attacks were released the same day that the president is in New York stopping by the apartment of Tony James, president of the Blackstone Group, for a $35,800-per-plate fund-raiser.
Prepared with a retort but perhaps not to the extent of the Obama attacks, the Romney campaign also released a video Monday documenting Bain work with a steel plant that produced much different results than GST:
The investment that Mitt Romney and others made in Steel Dynamics helped to grow the company and create jobs. For the workers of Steel Dynamics, this is a perfect example of the American dream.
POLITICO reports that Ohio Senator and frequently mentioned V.P. possibility Rob Portman has come to Romney's defense against the Bain attacks.
"My feeling's pretty simple ... that is capitalism. There aren't different kinds of capitalism, There's the free market," Sen. Portman said on Romney's record, adding, "Yeah, there were some businesses that weren't in great shape when Bain got involved in them."