(CNN) – The sour back-and-forth between the dueling presidential campaigns continued Wednesday, as Republican Mitt Romney fired back at Democratic claims he was responsible for the shuttering of a steel plant, and President Barack Obama's team stuck to their argument Romney was a glorified corporate raider in the 1990s.
The skirmish extends back to Monday, when Obama's team spent under $100,000 to air a television ad in battleground states that saddled Romney with responsibility for the shuttering of a steel plant under management of Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded in 1984.
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In a radio interview Wednesday, Romney called the claims "really off target," pointing out he was no longer making decisions at Bain when the company, GST Steel, went bankrupt.
"They say 'Oh gosh, Gov. Romney at Bain Capital closed down a steel factory,'" Romney said in an interview with Ed Morrissey posted on HotAir.com. "But the problem of course is the steel factory closed down two years after I left Bain Capital. I was no longer there. So that is hardly something that is on my watch."
GST Steel was acquired by Bain Capital in 1993, when Romney was acting as the firm's chief executive. The firm declared bankruptcy in 2001, after Romney had ceased day-to-day oversight of Bain.
Democrats are eager to point out Romney was still listed as Bain's CEO in 2001, despite having left the company to head up the Salt Lake City Olympic organizing committee. Obama's campaign also argues decisions Romney made as the head of Bain led to GST Steel's downfall.
In a conference call Wednesday, Obama's Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter pointed to two other companies – American Pad and Paper (Ampad) and Dade Behring – that were acquired by Bain and later went bankrupt.
Like GST Steel, Ampad and Dade Behring both filed for bankruptcy after Romney had ceased day-to-day management of Bain. Cutter said the likely Republican presidential nominee made decisions during his time at Bain's chief that led to the companies' downfalls, and continued to profit from them in his investments.
"My understanding of the situation is that the deal that was cut with Ampad, and the structure of the management at Ampad, was done while Mitt Romney was at Bain Capital and he had a hand in it," Cutter said. "He did take a leave of absence for the Olympics, but he was still listed as president and CEO of that company, and was still making money off that investment."
In his radio interview Wednesday, Romney said Democrats were willfully ignoring the jobs he did create at Bain, choosing to focus only on jobs that were axed.
"They don't mention a couple of other things," Romney said. "One is that we were able to help create over 100,000 jobs. Secondly, on the president's watch about 100,000 jobs were lost in the auto industry – auto dealers and auto manufacturers – so he is hardly one to point a finger."
Cutter called that argument "embarrassing" Wednesday, saying Romney's private sector experience couldn't compare to Obama's intervention in the American auto industry.
Romney also hit Obama for vilifying his role at Bain Capital while accepting large amounts of campaign cash from private equity executives. On Monday, the same day his campaign launched their Bain attack, Obama attended a fundraiser hosted by Tony James, the president of the Blackstone Group.
"As a matter of fact we have made investments together over our history," Romney said of Blackstone, a New York-based financial services firm. "I have respect for them and for much of the work they do. And I think you have a president that is just misguided in his effort to try and divide Americans from one another."
Cutter seemed to push back at that accusation in the conference call Wednesday, saying Democrats' censure of Romney didn't equal an attack on private equity, but rather a questioning of the "lessons and values" Romney acquired at Bain.
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Tykl, you obviously don't understand what Bain Capital was up to in the 90's. The majority of their purchases were not made to infuse cash into a start-up but rather to buy under-valued companies that had assets that could be extracted for Bain's profit. They weren't trying to save anything, just make themselves a lot of money. Whenever a Bain owned company went out business, Bain made millions. Venture capitalists assume risk when they invest, Bain had very little risk. This is corporate raiding.
Is Mitt an anchor baby?
Wasn't it Bachmann,Perry and Gingrich that started the assault on Romney,during their recent campaign,not Pres.Obama.I stated on these other sites the incumbent was sitting back,taking notes and laughing at all the mud slinging going around.Now he knows who his challenger is and there's no stopping him,and he won't stop with the I quit either.They're saying the president is hypocrital himself getting campaign money from other venture investment firms,so why go after Romney.But its not ALL INVESTMENT CAPITALISTS,IT'S JUST ONE ,ROMNEY because of his arrogence,ego running for president,other investment CEOs aren't, just that Mormon moron Romney,thats why again!So you see,after all the spins are gone,all the political innuendos are said,he'll still be against the incumbent,running for the big house at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave in DC.He won't be able to face his wife ,kids and Mormon followers again,but ya know what ,he'll have Bain and Bain will have that maniacal Mormon moron Romney,just two peas in a really funny looking pod,shaped like magical diapers!!!Didn't that Joseph Smith guy wear them too,weirdos,just pathetic weirdos..
Mitt is not a capitalist. He has never had a idea for a novel product, invented it, developed it, built it and sold it.
Mitt has applied long standing manipulations of money and capital to extort and extract profits for his PE investors. This is wholly different from the type of capitalism that mod "free market" proponents support. Mitt Romney is no Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, etc.
Obama need only question Mitt during a debate about how Bain, under his leadership, extracted profits for THEMSELVES at the expense of WORKERS and TAXPAYERS by taking money out of so-called "overfunded" pension plans which are guaranteed by the US Government. This is a TRANSFER of WEALTH that should be exposed. Mitt Romney is no Henry Ford capitalist that should be romanticized.
Figure, Team Obama spends only $100, 000 on an ad that states the facts and Karl Rove panics and blows $25 million on a negative ad this early in mid-May. What does that say about how worried Rove is about the last man(niquin) standing, aka, alexithymic Mitt?
My respect for CNN just went up immensely due to Ashleigh Banfield's challenge to Ben LaBolt's attack ad on Romney from the Obama campaign. It isn't because she stuck up for Romney. It is because she was pursuing the "truth" and "fairness" of it all. That is something that Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, and the crew all accuse "mainstream media" like CNN for NOT doing. Yet here she is doing it on CNN. Who cares "who" is right? I want to know "what" is right, first. Then I can decide "who" is right. That was more than a shot in Obama's press secretary's eye, it was a shot in the eyes of Beck, Rush, Savage and all, that CNN does care, it's just as "fair and balanced" as the alternative media. She should get a raise. I'll be listening to CNN a lot more after hearing her. Equal time folks for equal understanding. Hat's off to Ms. Banfield and CNN for having her on staff. That's the kind of reporting I want to see and hear.