Mitt Romney's running for president on one central campaign theme: that he's the savvy business guy whose tenure at private equity firm Bain Capital in the 1980's and 90's has made him a job-creator while President Obama is a job-cutter. A pretty lofty claim considering the financier's #1 goal was to earn a hefty profit for him and his partners even if that meant actually putting people out of work. That's what a new devastatingly effective Obama ad, focusing on GST Steel in Kansas City, is hammering home to voters.
GST went bankrupt in 2001 after being taken over by Bain. "It was like a vampire... came in a sucked the life out of us," one worker says in the ad. Another refers to Romney as "a job destroyer."
In another ad, Democrats profile SCM, a small Indiana paper company, bought by Bain's American Pad and Paper (Ampad) in 1994, which went bankrupt six years later. The web video details how workers were subsequently laid off and lost their health insurance. "They put armed guards at the doors, did not look at anyone, did not speak to anybody, and told us we all were fired," one worker recalls in the video.
And you can bet between now and the November election there'll be myriad ads like these defining Romney as an elitist corporate raider concerned only about lining the pockets of the rich. And while Romney has been critical of the attacks, calling them a distraction from the real issues, Obama says the scrutiny on Romney's record is highly relevant "because my opponent, Governor Romney, his main calling card for why he thinks he should be president is his business experience. He's not going out there touting his experience in Massachusetts. He's saying, I'm a business guy and I know how to fix it,' and this is his business."
"When you're president," he continued, "as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot.
Romney's running from his record as governor of Massachusetts. He's running from RomneyCare. He's evading the impact of his Mr. Potter role at Bain. But Obama and Democrats appear intent on defining the debate and making his private equity experience the Bain of his existence this summer and fall.
Romney needs to figure out how to address Obama's positive economic record, which includes 26 consecutive months of job growth with 4.25 million private sector jobs created, including 489,000 in manufacturing. Unemployment, which peaked in 2010 at 10%, has dropped to 8.1%. And let's not forget the stellar turnaround in the auto industry, America's largest industry, which Romney wanted to bankrupt.
Romney would be better served in telling his surrogates, super PACs and campaign staffers to spend less time on Rev. Wright and birth certificates and to instead create a compelling plan to maintain Obama's economic recovery.