Bain Capital became front and center at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, with three speakers knocking the private equity firm that GOP nominee Mitt Romney founded for costing them their jobs.
First up was Randy Johnson, who has needled Romney has far back as 1994 when he ran for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, the same year Johnson was laid off.
"I want to tell you about Mitt Romney's record of cutting jobs. Mitt Romney once said -- quote -- 'I like being able to fire people,'" Johnson said, quoting a remark Romney made in January about health care competitiveness, rather than firing workers.
"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."
Cindy Hewitt, interviewed by The Huffington Post about layoffs at the plant where she worked, echoed Johnson's sentiment about Romney Wednesday, along with David Foster, another employee laid-off by a Bain-controlled company. All three speakers acknowledged that business had "winners and losers" or some variation -- perhaps to stave off sounding too "anti-business" -- but proceeded to attack Bain's model of capitalism.
As HuffPost reported, the Romney campaign had largely retreated from mentioning Bain, only to resurface Romney's record there, albeit briefly, at the Republican convention last week:
Mitt Romney initially launched his presidential campaign on a simple premise: During tough economic times, America needed someone who understood the economy, someone with business experience who could turn it around. Early on, Romney frequently referred to his time at Bain Capital, where he said he helped start and revive an array of companies, creating 100,000 net new jobs.
But Bain has faded fast. The company's name was barely mentioned throughout the convention, referred to obliquely as "a company" or "a great success story." Bain's relegation to anonymity was the result of attacks on the firm not just by Democrats, but by Romney's GOP primary opponents. Its reputation was further eroded by independent media reports of the private equity firm taking over companies, saddling them with debt, laying off workers, harvesting profits, and then putting them through bankruptcy, employing a business practice perhaps best explained by Tony Soprano.
The Romney campaign is still using the Bain theme, releasing three web videos prior to the laid-off workers' speeches Wednesday. And Democrats are still eager to attack Romney's time at Bain, as voters in swing states have expressed a negative view of Romney's way of making money.
UPDATE: Bain Capital, put into the public eye by Romney's political career, released a statement following the speeches. "Bain Capital grows companies and improves their operations," the statement said. "It is disappointing to watch the distortion of our record and the political hyperbole that often occurs during campaigns. We are extremely proud of our employees and management teams who have grown over 80 percent of the more than 350 companies in which we have invested over 28 years."