Meet Olive Chase. For the past 26 years, Ms. Chase has been running her own small catering business in Cape Cod, Mass. In the latest ad from Priorities USA, however, Chase steps out of the kitchen and into the political arena with attacks on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his presidential campaign.
The video begins with Chase declaring herself as an independent voter. According to local voter registration records, she is a registered voter with no identified party affiliation. She also says she voted for Romney and supported him with a donation. This also appears to be true: records at the state's Office of Campaign and Political Finances show that Chase donated $500 to Romney in November 2004, midway through his term in office (2003-2007). This, however, is about where the truth in the super PAC ad stops.
Serving as the voice of small businesses in her state, Chase claims that Massachusetts "had fallen to 47th in the nation in terms of job growth" by the end of Romney's tenure. This is one of the Obama campaign's favorite talking points, but it's incredibly misleading. The truth is that Massachusetts’ state ranking for job growth improved, from 50th the year before he took office, to 28th in his final year. It was 47th for the whole of his four-year tenure, but it was improving, not declining, when he left.
That's an economic turnaround you'd think a business owner like Chase would appreciate. But she goes on to say that Romney only "cares about big business; he cares about tax cuts for wealthy people. And I certainly do not believe that he cares about my hardworking employees."
OUCH, right? T
hat's quite a string of accusations, but do the facts actually support it? Under Mitt Romney's tenure as governor, Ms. Chase's business actually grew significantly -- to the tune of $3 million profits! And she feels like she was duped. Ha!
The ad says that Chase employs 29 employees at her small catering business, but in 2006, she told a local newspaper that her business regularly employed 40, with numbers swelling to between 130-140 during seasonal peaks.
In another local media interview just one week after Mitt Romney left office in January 2007, Chase admitted that business was booming (emphases mine):
Olive started out in a little storefront selling gourmet foods. Her meteoric rise is almost a fairy tale itself. Today she creates fairy tale weddings for others.
Aside from four Casual Gourmet locations, an upscale café at Cape Cod Hospital and clubhouses at the Sandwich Hollows and Captains Golf Course in Brewster, off premise catering is the mainstay of the business. It’s grown to include company outings, glittery fundraising events, cocktail parties, and funerals and their list of clients reads like a “Who’s Who” of the area and beyond. Despite all her success Olive still has her feet on the ground. [...]
How did you become so successful?
Our growth was gradual. We had 800 square feet at first. Then a restaurant went out of business and we took it over and had 1800 square feet. In 1991 Heritage Museum decided they wanted a little cafe on the grounds. We do all of the catering there. It was our first food service contract. We’ve gone through different stages. In the mid 90ies, we had cafeterias at the high tech companies and at Cape Cod Community College. They helped give the company stability. In 1995 we moved to the Bell Tower Mall and acquired 3300 square feet. We finally own our own building. Last March we bought the H&K Bakery. I always wanted to own it. t’s been a long term goal. [...]
We do 75 to 100 weddings off premise each year. I write 90 percent of the menus and design the events. We’re the largest caterer on Cape Cod and one of the largest in Southeast massachusetts. I derive the most pleasure from event planning. I don’t like to quote figures but we do about $3,000,0000 a year in catering.
So what in this story about a business that started in a small storefront and grew into a multi-million enterprise suggests to you that Mitt Romney's tenure in office was anything but focused on creating jobs and growing the state's economy? Romney is obviously not responsible for Chase's success, but it sure seems misleading for her to suggest that his policies would ever prevent such success for others.
But while Chase may have supported Romney's economic policies, she voiced disapproval of his health care policy. Is this where she was "duped"?
In a 2010 interview with the Cape Cod Times, Chase complained that insurance costs were hurting the growth of her catering business. By this time, Deval Patrick had been in office for three years. “Insurance costs for me now are equal to my mortgage,” Chase said, noting that she expected her premiums to rise another 18-20 percent when policies renewed. Why? Because of "residents who use more health services, and insurance regulations that mandate coverage for more treatments" -- a key argument in the fight to overturn ObamaCare, a similar mandate implemented by President Obama at the national level.
“At this point, I just don’t know where this goes,” Chase told the paper. “What we have going on here is not sustainable.”
After enjoying business prosperity under Romney, why would Chase throw her support behind Obama, a president who insists business owners "didn't build that"? And after supposedly suffering the effects of RomneyCare's insurance mandates in Massachusetts, why would a business owner then support Obama who applied that mandate across the country? And why would she donate $1,000 to her Democrat congressman who opposes repealing the onerous and burdensome Obamacare?
I'm not holding my breath for answers. This is, after all, the same group which brought us the twisted attacks of Joe Soptic.
The new ad is slated to run online and on television outlets in the battleground states of Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio and Virginia.
“Americans are going to hear a lot of about Mitt Romney this week,” said Bill Burton, co-founder of the super-PAC, referring to the Republican convention. “These new ads are designed to make sure voters hear the whole story.”