Bain is back as Obama camp probes Romney's record
May 14th, 2012
08:47 AM ET
11 years ago

Bain is back as Obama camp probes Romney's record

(CNN) – It's back.

After lying dormant for months, Mitt Romney's record as a private equity executive returned to the forefront in the race for the White House Monday as President Barack Obama's re-election team launched an assault on the Republican's record in the 1980s and 90s.

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The attack focuses on Bain's history at one company, Kansas City-based GST Steel. The Obama team portrays the firm as a victim of Romney's brand of capitalism gone wrong. A two-minute television ad running in Iowa, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Colorado – all battleground states – features former GST Steel workers lamenting the fact that they lost their jobs following Bain's takeover. A campaign official said the spot would run on evening newscasts in "targeted markets" on Wednesday, but wouldn't elaborate on how much the campaign spent to air the ad.

"They made as much money off it they could," says Dale Soptic, who the Obama campaign says worked as a steelworker for 30 years. "They closed it down, they filed for bankruptcy without any concern for the families or communities."

The workers featured in the ad say Romney's record as Bain's chief executive is a good indicator of how'd he's approach the presidency.

"He's running for president, and if he's going to run the country like he ran our business I don't want him there," Soptic says in the television spot. "He would be so out of touch with average people in this country. How could you care, how could you care for the average working person if you feel that way?"

Another steelworker, Jack Cobb, slams Bain in the ad as being like a "vampire."

"They came in and sucked the life out of us," Wiseman said. "It was like watching an old friend bleed to death."

GS Industries 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.

On a conference call Monday, Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter said the Obama campaign's criticism was still relevent, despite the timing.

"He set this in motion. It was his stucture that was put in place," Cutter said, noting Romney was still profiting from Bain at the time the company went bankrupt.

Romney's campaign spokesman Andrea Saul responded to the ad Monday, saying the campaign would "welcome the Obama campaign's attempt to pivot back to jobs and a discussion of their failed record. Mitt Romney helped create more jobs in his private sector experience and more jobs as Governor of Massachusetts than President Obama has for the entire nation."

Saul continued, "President Obama has many questions to answer as to why his administration used the stimulus to reward wealthy campaign donors with taxpayer money for bad ideas like Solyndra, but 23 million Americans are still struggling to find jobs. If the Obama administration was less concerned about pleasing their wealthy donors and more concerned about creating jobs, America would be much better off."

Monday's attack on Romney's record at Bain comes months after the issue first surfaced during the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Romney's opponents, principally former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, used the Bain record to slam Romney as out-of-touch with the struggles of working-class Americans.

The super PAC supporting Gingrich released a half-hour ad called "King of Bain" using workers from closed plants to paint Romney a heartless corporate raider.

Former candidate Perry, then reaching the end of his presidential bid, called Romney's Bain record "indefensible" ahead of the South Carolina primary in January.

"There is something inherently wrong when getting rich off failure and sticking it to someone else is how you do your business," Perry. "And I happen to think that is indefensible."

In defending himself against attacks on his record at Bain in the past, Romney has pointed to the several successful companies his firm helped turn around, including Staples and Sports Authority.

He has also slammed rivals for criticizing Bain's record, saying they amounted to an attack on free enterprise.

Cutter said Monday the focus on Romney's record at Bain remained an effective campaign tactic, even though Republicans used a similar strategy.

"If you take a look at how Bain Captial was discussed through the Republican primaries, putting aside whether it was done well, it really was damaging to Mitt Romney. He consistently lost the middle class vote in every primary until he was the de facto nominee."

CNN's Gloria Borger contributed to this report.

Also see:

Ron Paul to end active campaigning

RNC, Team Romney roll out debt attack on Obama

Leading progressive group attacks Romney over women's issues

Obama headlines two high dollar fundraisers in NYC

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. SFRich

    @Mark from Louisiana said, "How many jobs were lost when the obama administration forced GM and Chrysler to close down almost a thousand auto dealerships?"

    Really Mark, you blame THAT on Obama? Might it have something to do with the fact that GM and Chrysler were on the skids from running years of deficits, with huge inventories of cars, nobody able to buy cars because people had been losing their jobs because of Bush's emptying the treasury surplus he inherited to the 1% while fighting 2 wars?

    How well would those dealerships have done with Romney"s "let Detroit go bankrupt?"

    May 14, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  2. Dave

    I love the irony of the democratic criticisms: Romney was a bully (but they forget that Obama also bullied a girl in HS – see his biography). Romney put a dog in a cage on his car roof (but they forget that Obama ate dog – see his biography). Romney laid people off (but so did Obama with GM after he wasted billions of dollars and the company STILL went bankrupt). Funny!

    May 14, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  3. Dave

    Obama = forward with more debt, deficits and unemployment.

    May 14, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  4. gg

    you keep hearing when REAGAN was president–when reagan took office there were all kinds of manufacturing jobs[made in america] when he left office they were in a list off all the presidents starting with carter,reagan bush sr.,clinton,bush jr. see who sent most of the jobs to mexico,india,and china,

    May 14, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  5. ST

    I believe that Romney is totally selfish. If he was a job creator, he could had created 100,000 jobs or more in Massachusetts as he claimed he did at Bain. But he didn't.

    May 14, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  6. No More Hope and Change Obama

    As Governor, Romney was 47th in the nation in terms of job creation, folks. Remember that.

    Hate to break it to you but that number is deceiving. I live in MA and it is because we had so few people out of work that Romney didn't need to find that many people jobs herego the 47th out of 50. That speaks volumes.

    Bet Obama wishes he could stand on "his" record! He can't and that is what YOU need to remember!!!!

    May 14, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  7. RealityBites

    Anything but the current economy. Forward CNN!

    May 14, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  8. gg

    right the unions were out everyday trying to get jobs shipped to china. if everyone made the romney wal-mart wages there would be no wal-mart

    May 14, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  9. enuff

    It wasn't unions that bankrupted anything. It was GREEDY PEOPLE that did it. People only looking out for their own selfish interests... just like Romney. He was not looking at the people who would get hurt. He was looking at the easiest and fastest way for him and Bain to turn a fast buck. If people do not come first, what do you have to stand on?

    May 14, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  10. Data Driven

    The reality-based community would welcome Ms Saul's pivot back to the world of data and facts. Romney created more than 4.2 million jobs? Really? Because that's how many jobs have come back during the Obama Administration.

    May 14, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
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