Bain back-and-forth continues
May 16th, 2012
05:10 PM ET
6 years ago

Bain back-and-forth continues

(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 "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.

Also see:

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Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "The sour back-and-forth between the dueling presidential campaigns continued Wednesday"

    Yes, any criticism of Deputy Doublethink is "sour," but his hate crime from high school is "pranks" and his claim to not have remembered it is "forgiven." CNN's really flailing hard to keep this looking close.

    May 16, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "But the problem of course is the steel factory closed down two years after I left Bain Capital. "

    And places like Staples created tons of jobs after Mittens left but he constantly tries to take credit for them...and the MSM blithely lets him. FACT: Deputy Doublethink remained CEO after leaving and, as CEO before AND after he left, he set the policies, strategies and made the management and consulting decisions that led to the closure of that steel mill. PERIOD. As CEO he is directly responsible for everything, no argument about it. There is nothing more "on my watch" than being CEO.

    May 16, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  3. Martha in CF

    I can't wait to see what Gingrich has to say now about Bain. He bashed Romney on this, both Gingrich and Perry!!!!!

    May 16, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    Why is this article's lede about a "sour back and forth" when all CNN has done is help Deputy Doublethink message his arguments on the subject? That's not "back and forth". That's a "contribution in kind."

    May 16, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  5. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    the funny thing to me about this is that it was really the Republicans that started the Bain attack on Romney. Rick Perry even called him a vulture capitalist and no since even going into what Newt and Santorum said. Heck even Michelle Bachmann attacked Romney. All the Obama team really needed to do was play all the YOU-TUBE attacks his fellow GOPers did on him and save this mini-movie for Sept.

    May 16, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  6. Brandt Hardin

    Romney obviously has a little man complex he’s been trying to make up for all of his life from bullying classmates to his enjoyment of firing people after gutting their companies. His Magic Mormon Underwear can’t protect him from the press but can they make enough cash rain down to win the election? See for yourself the power of these mysterious garments at

    May 16, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  7. California Conservative

    Obama's budget defeated in the Senate a second time 0-99.

    Democrats have set a record for being the most pathetic ever.

    May 16, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  8. Myviewis

    Once again this argument won't hold when people look at the balance of their checkbooks and realize it isn't that good and savings are gone and many are still hoping to find a job. Oh, and they wonder what happened to the money we loaned Solyndra.

    May 16, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  9. once upon a horse

    is this the SAME Mitt Romney that wanted to take credit for the auto turnaround that he had little to do with, yet now wants to wash his hands and say NOT ME with a company that he DID have ties with? This is just TOO funny LOL!!

    May 16, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  10. tykl

    @ Sniffit: you are really unbearable. Your self-righteous hypocrisy reflects the Left perfectly. You want to talk about Romney in HS?? Want to talk about Obama doing cocaine?? Where did he buy the cocaine? Who did he do cocaine with (and don't treat me like I'm dumb and say he only did it once)? And Obama's cocaine use was after HS. You want to go down that road? Again, hypocrisy.

    Second, when you learn anything about the economy, then comment on private equity. Do you know why PE firms buy companies? Because they either need start up money (and if PE didn't provide start up money, how do you think some of this garage start ups are able to get off the ground? I suspect you have not been involved in any of those sorts of things) or they are failing. I'm going to shock you here, but failing businesses go out of business. In your warped world, a doomed company with 10 jobs that is going bankrupt doesn't get 4 jobs saved by PE with a buyout, but they lose 6 jobs. As long as 4 people remain to revive the struggling company, they are still providing jobs via their suppliers and customers. Anyway, this could go on all day, but I imagine you have little interest in education and a lot more interest in spinning your baseless, self-righteous hypocritical talking points.

    May 16, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  11. NRC

    So he gets money from Blackstone and calls Romney a corporate raider. That would make him a hypocrite. No other way to put it. You can't accept money from an industry if you think it is evil and maintain the ability to attack Romney on the matter.

    May 16, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  12. vic , nashville ,tn

    Romney started his 2012 campaign as job creator base on Bain record. Now Romney and some media don’t want to talk about Bain. Wow what a change

    May 16, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  13. Cynthia L.

    Please give interviews to other news sources other than Fox. If you are on the up and up, you wouldn't be afraid to do so. I dare ya.

    May 16, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  14. Valentina

    President Romney! I can't wait for this moment to finally come!

    May 16, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  15. T'sah From Virginia

    You cannot trust Romney – No matter if it is Bain or the money he has stolen that was insane – it's not ONLY about the economy – It's speaking with foreign leaders and how he will keep us SAFE – Come on Now, he flip-flops so much he might declare war and then say he never said it. On another note, Romney thinks the presidency is "owed" to him – his wife too, she thinks the White House is the ultimate HOME to live in!!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!

    Obama 2012 – The Only TRUSTED Way Forward!!

    May 16, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  16. Charles

    3 Months ago it was "over 100,000 jobs" that Romney claimed to have created. His campaign offered nothing to substantiate that claim. Many fact checkers ripped that to shreds and the campaign dropped it.

    2 days ago, in an ad released by the Romney campaign, it was "thousands of jobs"

    Now, when Romney is amongst friendly media that will not push back on falsehoods, it back to "over 100,000 jobs".

    I may be going out on a limb here, but I don't think he's telling the truth.

    May 16, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  17. Charles

    California Conservative

    "Obama's budget defeated in the Senate a second time 0-99."

    You've adding nothing to this conversation. Why would someone even take the to post things like this on the internet?

    Could their lives be that pathetic?

    May 16, 2012 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain

    Here are some FACTS about Robmey's "experience":

    According to Bill Bain, who started Bain & Company and invited Robmey to head Bain Capital, Robmey initially said no (it was too risky a venture for Robmey).

    So Bill Bain told Robmey that if Bain Capital failed, he'd have his old job back, at his old salary, plus any raises he would have gotten. Bain also told Robmey that he'd provide him with a "cover story" so his (Robmey's) reputation wouldn't be damaged by the failure.

    In a nutshell, according to Bill Bain himself, Robmey faced "no professional or financial risk" by going to Bain Capital.

    And Robmey's "successes"? Breaking up American companies, laying off American workers and outsourcing American jobs.

    So much for being some hot-shot business guy.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    May 16, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    @tykl: You interested in education? How about these FACTS:

    This subsection appears in McCain's opposition file on Mittens and Bain: “Under Romney’s Leadership, Bain Capital Had History Of Relentless Focus On Bottom Line, Improving Corporate Profits At Expense Of Local Workers.”

    This subsection lists various news references to layoffs at companies bought out by Bain under Romney and specifically notes cases where Mittens defended job losses (including AMPAD, the defunct Indiana paper plant, which, according to McCain’s staff, AMPAD “fired its workers, and offered to bring them back at drastically reduced salary and benefits.”)

    The bottom line is that is all that Mittens cares about: Making money for his investors. Given his history of putting investors ahead of the long-term interests of American companies and American workers, you can BET that if Mittens were ever POTUS, he'd be selling us off right and left, lining the pockets of his multinational partners at the expense of all of us.

    And if you think that's such a hot idea, tykl, then why don't you just save the time and move to China NOW.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    May 16, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain

    Let's look at "experience," shall we?

    Mittens' plan for our economy would be to have let the auto industry go belly-up, taking down with it millions of supply chain jobs; let the housing market bottom out so investors could buy up houses at fire sale prices and rent them back to the original owners; implement his Bain-ification strategy of breaking up American companies, laying off American workers and shipping American jobs overseas.

    If anyone still believes the Republican fantasy that trickle-down economics works, that when the investor class has more and more money and power we all benefit, then fine, vote for Mittens.

    But if you've got a working brain and can accept along with the rest of us that the reality is Republicans don't know diddly about the economy except how to break it and that Democrats know what to do (proven by historical and recent record), then make the only sane choice this November:

    Obama/Biden 2012

    May 16, 2012 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  21. employee

    bain and co was hired by american airlines so they could advise the airlines how much employees to lay off so they would go in bankruptcy and still come out a winner. bain and co, main purpose in this situation is to get rid of jobs. guess who owns bain and co,? rommney, the same person who said he creates jobs . what type of message is he sending to the public? guess what rommney dont expect any votes from unions because you dont believe in unions and what they stand for and dont lie to the public because you are all for outsourcing jobs. ask rommney how much money his company collected already{bains} over 3 million dollars. you are what is known in todays world as a two timer. do youself a favor go take a vacation and leave politics to people who knows what they are talking about.

    May 16, 2012 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  22. scott

    Obama is very good at double talk, he is such a hypocrite, half his staff is wall street capitalist, not to mention he is in bed with Corzine. Since he took office their has been no improvement. Romney 2012

    May 16, 2012 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    "Once again this argument won't hold when people look at the balance of their checkbooks and realize it isn't that good and savings are gone and many are still hoping to find a job. Oh, and they wonder what happened to the money we loaned Solyndra."

    Oh look, another GOBP cult talking point that means nothing. Solyndra was part of a program in which it was EXPECTED that a certain percentage would fail (ask a REAL venture capitalst, and not a vulture capitalist like Rmoney and they'll explain all venture funds project a failure rate). Solyndra's failure in no way proves the program is bad or mismanaged. Want more proof? The failure rate for the green energy portfolio is BELOW what was projected. That's called WINNING among real venture capitalists.

    May 16, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  24. Bling Bling

    Argreed that Mr Romni was successful at investing in select companies with the highest potential and as a result these companies grew and hired more people and made some rich businessman and him richer:

    1- how many mom N pop companies did he invest in? none!
    2- how many down and out businesses did he pick up? none, unless he closed the business and scrapped it.
    3- his solution was to pump cash into these companies. Where is he going to get cash? Tax the rich?

    May 16, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  25. GonzoinHouston

    There are lots of ways a PE firm can make money. They can invest to expand a purchased company, they can re-organize it, they can trim off unprofitable branches, or break it up and sell the pieces. They can also bleed it white, sell the assets, and close it. It all depends on the situation at the purchased firm and the attitude and skills of the PE firm. Generally, a PE firm specializes in one or two methods. With all the hot air blowing about Bain, I still haven't heard enough specifics about enough companies to know how they worked. And unless you're a serious student of business cases and financial history, you don't either.

    Layoffs and outsourcing are common when a company is bought out by a PE firm, and it's usually necessary. What's telling is how hard Bain worked to help laid-off workers find new jobs. I don't think empathy is Mitt Romney's strong suit.

    May 16, 2012 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
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