WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama escalated his criticism of Mitt Romney's work with private equity firm Bain Capital Monday during a mid-day campaign event in Durham, N.H.
Speaking to a boisterous crowd in the Granite State, Obama criticized Romney for outsourcing jobs and mocked his campaign's insistence that outsourcing and offshoring are two different things.
"Now, just last week, it was reported that Governor Romney's old firm owned companies that were pioneers in the business of outsourcing American jobs to places like China and India," said Obama. "So yesterday his advisers were asked about this and they tried to clear this up by telling us there is actually a difference between outsourcing and offshoring. That's what they said. You cannot make this stuff up."
The line, which got strong applause and some audible snickers from the crowd, was a response to arguments made the day before by Romney aides and surrogates on the Sunday show circuit. Those surrogates pushed back against a Washington Post report that Romney had invested in companies that sent American jobs overseas while at Bain Capital by clinging to a technical distinction.
"There’s a very simple difference between outsourcing and offshoring,” top Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “[Outsourcing] is done by companies every day. They take functions and they allow vendors to do it rather than handling it in-house. Offshoring is the shipment of American jobs overseas."
It's true that outsourcing and offshoring are two different things. That said, it seems fairly well established that Bain Capital invested in companies that, through one method or another, took work that could have been done in the United States and had it done overseas. And in the context of a presidential campaign, arguing these types of distinctions rarely means you are playing a winning hand.
Certainly, Obama was eager to move past the technical debate in favor of making a larger point.
"Now what Governor Romney's advisers don't seem to understand is this: if you're a worker whose job went overseas, you don't need somebody trying to explain to you the difference between outsourcing and offshoring," he said. "You need somebody who is going to wake up every single day and fight for American jobs."