To hear the conservative blogosphere tell it, Randy Johnson is a $100,000 per year, heat-seeking missile that big unions and the Obama campaign have pointed at Mitt Romney.
If so, he's certainly hit his target. On Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention, Johnson blasted Romney for firing him and hundreds of his co-workers while Bain Capital -- where Romney was CEO at the time -- and its investors walked away with more than $100 million in profits.
"I don't think Mitt Romney is a bad man. I don't fault him for the fact that some companies win and some companies lose. That's a fact of life," he said. "What I fault him for is making money without a moral compass."
But some have painted Johnson as the one whose direction is skewed, charging Democratic operatives for expenses and living high on the union-funded hog.
"Though he billed himself as a blue-collared fighter, Johnson has been living in the lap of luxury courtesy of the DNC for months, according to reports," wrote the Free Beacon.
Johnson admitted the DNC "pays for his flights and for a hotel room, and he needled the DNC operative following him around for making him pay for tolls and buy lunch as they travelled around New Hampshire," according to the Politicker.
What's the truth?
"I'm not bashful about it," Johnson told The Huffington Post in a phone interview. The father of two says after years of tough jobs and hard work he's proud to be doing well -- now earning more than $80,000 as an organizer for the United Steel Workers Union and accepting reimbursement for his expenses on the campaign trail. Johnson says about 20 percent of his time is spent stumping and the remainder helping union members manage disputes.
"When I see members out there, I see my own family," he says. "Sometimes it’s the employer's fault. Sometimes the union people get wound up. Sometimes I become the voice of reason."
Johnson also hasn't been bashful about his personal story. In 1992, Bain purchased American Pad & Paper and proceeded to roll up similar firms. Sales exploded but so did debt and after a labor dispute at Johnson's Marion, Ind., plant, more than 350 workers got the ax. Some were hired back under lower wages. Regardless, six years later, the company went belly up but Bain and its investors made millions anyway, according to The New York Times.
Romney's direct role is less clear. At the time, he was both the CEO of Bain Capital and running for the Senate. Johnson says he wrote to Romney, who eventually met with plant workers and wrote Johnson back claiming he was unable to get involved.
"Our lives were wrecked," he says. "I had two teenage girls at the time in high school." He has four children in total.
Starting over was terrifying, says Johnson, but he has the kind of boot strap story conservatives can appreciate. He got work with the state of Indiana helping other fired workers find jobs. He took a gig detailing used cars in an auction lot. And eventually he found a new career with the unions, first the United Paper Workers, and through a series of mergers, landing at the United Steel Workers.
But throughout much of that time, he's also had a mini-career dogging Mitt Romney. He spoke out against Romney during his failed bid to win a Massachusetts Senate seat, he returned to form when Romney won the governor's spot and he's back on the trail now.
"I never thought I would be doing this, and wouldn't be doing this, if Mitt Romney wasn’t running for president," he says. And despite rousing the crowd at the Democratic National Convention, he still has one more question for the candidate he blames for taking his job.
"I want him to explain to me why people aren't the biggest asset in the company -- whether workers or management." Bain, he says, "only invests if things go wrong. That’s business. That's legal. But how are you going to apply that to running this country?"
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