Dems enter second week of Bain attacks amid criticism
May 21st, 2012
08:20 AM ET
10 years ago

Dems enter second week of Bain attacks amid criticism

(CNN) – President Barack Obama's re-election team began their second week of attacks on Mitt Romney's record as a private executive Monday, using a web video to highlight a paper plant that went bankrupt after being acquired by a company owed by Bain Capital, Romney's former firm.

The Democrats' second week of bearing down on Bain Capital comes after criticism of the jabs from the popular Democratic mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Cory Booker, who said on Sunday the constant political warfare from Democrats and Republicans was "'nauseating."

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"I'm not going to sit here and indict private equity. To me we're getting to a ridiculous point in America," Booker said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "If you look at the totality of Bain Capital's record, they've done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses, and this, to me, I'm very uncomfortable with."

Booker later released a web video to clarify his comments, saying Romney's tenure at Bain was fair game for political scrutiny. In his follow-up, Booker used almost identical language in justifying the Bain attacks as Obama's campaign staff.

"Let me be clear," Booker said. "Mitt Romney had made his business record a centerpiece of his campaign. He's talked about himself as a job creator. And therefore, it is reasonable, and in fact I encourage it, for the Obama campaign to examine that record and discuss it. I have no problem with that."

Booker went on to suggest Romney hasn't been completely forthcoming about his time as Bain's chief executive.

Booker's defense of the Bain attacks – that they're justified since Romney bases much of his campaigning on his record as a businessman – mimics closely the reasoning from Obama's campaign staff, which defended the attacks from various critics last week.

On Monday, Obama's campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt pointed to Booker's follow-up video, saying the Newark mayor was on board with the Bain attacks.

"Mayor Booker expanded upon his comments yesterday, and he pointed out in a similar fashion that we have today that Romney has based his candidacy as a corporate buyout specialist, and Mayor Booker said Romney had not been forthright about his tenure there," LaBolt said on a conference call with reporters.

As for Booker's original assertion that the Bain attacks represented a hyper-politicized negative campaign, LaBolt said he wasn't worried the Obama campaign assault would turn off Democratic voters.

"This election, like all other elections, is going to be a choice between two candidates, two records, and two visions for the country," LaBolt said. "We've not heard an affirmative vision from Mitt Romney. He's spent the last year tearing down the president. The money his campaign and his super PAC allies have been spending on TV has been almost entirely negative."

LaBolt continued, "Gov. Romney believes that any discussion about his record is automatically negative campaigning, which tells you something about his record."

In Monday's web video, workers from SCM, a small Indiana paper company, detail how their plant was bought by Bain-owned American Pad and Paper (Ampad) in 1994. Workers at SCM subsequently lost their jobs, along with 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 says in the video.

The Obama web video makes certain to tie the plant's closure to Romney.

"To me, Mitt Romney takes from the poor and the middle class and gives to the rich," one worker says in the spot. "He's just the opposite of Robin Hood."

Ampad eventually went bankrupt in 2000, but as the web video points out, Bain was still able to make millions in profits from the company.

The DNC profiled Ampad ahead of the Iowa GOP presidential caucus in January, and the company also featured heavily in Mitt Romney's 1994 U.S. Senate campaign against Ted Kennedy.

One former worker from Ampad, Randy Johnson, has been active in helping Democrats chip away at Romney's Bain record, appearing at campaign events with vice president Joe Biden and speaking on conference calls to criticize the Republican's business record.

Last week Obama's campaign began focusing on Romney's time at Bain using a two-minute television spot detailing the closure of GST Steel, a Bain-owned company that went bankrupt in 2001.

Originally, the campaign only spent about $100,000 to air the spot, but on Monday said they were extending the ad purchase in Ohio.

Romney has defended his time at Bain, saying the closing of some plants is countered by other businesses that succeeded under Bain's watch.

Last week Romney called the Bain attacks "character assassination," telling reporters on Thursday that Democrats were skewing the reality of his time at the company.

"His efforts to look at my work at Bain is to try to characterize me in a way that isn't accurate," Romney said in Florida. "My effort at Bain Capital, as you know, was in every case designed to make the enterprises we invested in more successful, to grow them. There's this fiction that some have that somehow you can be highly successful by stripping assets from enterprise and walking away with lots of money and killing the enterprise. There may be some people who know how to do that. I sure don't."

CNN's Jessica Yellin, Paul Steinhauser and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Also see:

Political jabs are 'nauseating,' mayor says

Gingrich is millions in the hole

Boehner and Pelosi say they feel good heading into November

Axelrod: Fund-raising pitch cited Wright threat to combat super PACs

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Blindersoff

    Face value America . . . Take a good look at this Romney Clown. Do you hate President Obama enough to slit your throats with the Romney knife?

    May 21, 2012 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  2. Al-NY,NY

    Flippy the job other countries.

    May 21, 2012 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  3. rla

    search and destroy even if its a lie.... Democrats are going to lose in a landslide and lose both house and senate. Move on dems you had your shot and FAILED!

    May 21, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  4. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Booker is a great mayor, and he has his sights set on the governorship when Romney/Christie go down in flames.

    May 21, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  5. Myviewis

    Seriously, Bain is all Democrats have to fight Romney with?

    May 21, 2012 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  6. ST

    The expertise Romney has while working with Bain Capital is not the ideal one to be applied in fixing the economy. Bain Capital style was meant for capitalists only. We should all understand that, it is quite impossible every American to become a capitalist!

    May 21, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Republicans had their shot from 2001 to January 2009, and they gave us two unfunded wars, a near depression, irresponsible tax cuts, 9-11, and a loss of 8 million jobs in Bush's last three years. Pubes had their chance and they blew it.

    May 21, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  8. rla

    Hmmmm Seems to me we are 6 trillion in debt, have lost more power than Bush, have a president who practices politics by division, seems not to understand what the people really need (JOBS), Tries to buy off voters Chicago style, 50% of Americans pay no taxes???? Gee whats not to like..... Bain capitol would have gone out of business real quick with this resulT

    May 21, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  9. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Didn't know about Romney and Bain Capitol until the Republican candidates, Newt, Perry, Santorum and Bachmann, told me. Romney lied or unintentionally left off the part that he ruined peoples lives by firing them and hiring the Chinese for company profit. Shame on Romney for not telling the truth.

    May 21, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  10. mcskadittle

    rla; most of that debt comes from the way bush pushed the cost of iraq down the road, stop and think for yourself once in a while.

    May 21, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  11. 1crusader

    The issue is Romney's claim that he is a job creator.Cory Booker, Harold Ford, and all others aside, Bain's managing partner didn't think their jobs were about job creation.It was about making money.If jobs were created fine.If lostfine.

    May 21, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  12. KL

    Lots of comments with no research. American Pad and Paper was in trouble and was first aquired by Mead. When Meade couldn't make it a success, they sold it to Bain. Bain poured money into it, couldn't bring it back to life and it finally folded. Bain was a risk taker back then, they bought several companies that had no better than a 50-50 shot at survival. . They were able to save some but not others. Some of their sucess stories include Burger King, and Dunkin Donuts.

    May 21, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  13. BADGUY

    Who is this guy, Booker? He makes commercials with Christie, a right wing diatribe. Me thinks he's bucking for a place with the Republican party if Christie leaves for a Washington job? The FACT is Mitt's history as CEO of Bain is MUCH different than Obama's. Obama sat in a pew in Reverend Wright's congregation. The Reverend DID "spew anger". But what Black minister DOESN'T have the right to "spew anger" after 150 years of racial segregation and lynchings of Blacks, and outrageously low employment rates? Romney? "Private Capital" as Booker says, is just a "nice" name for leveraged buyouts. Leveraged buyouts use the assets of a going concern (NOT near bankruptcy) as collateral to issue bonds. With the proceeds of those bonds, leveraged buyout's buy control over a company, which they then RAPE! They sell off its machines, its factories, its workers and its pensions and "uses" the "saving"s as loan collateral. It "pockets" the money from the loans and leaves the debt on it's "victims" books. Hundreds, maybe thousands of workers and small stock holders in these "victim" companies were left with NOTHING. Romney pocketed the profits and left the them in debt and often in bankruptcy. WHAT DOES THIS CLOWN, BOOKER, MEAN "IT'S NOT FAIR GAME"? Romney's past, his immoral actions at Bain and as Governor DIRECTLY pertains to how he will govern this country if he becomes President. Let's ALL hope that does not happen!

    May 21, 2012 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  14. really

    I would be interested in a breakdown of the total jobs created in Bain's hundreds of acquisitions versus the one or two that the Dems seem to obsess over.
    It would be even more fun to compare this to the number of jobs created by Obama in his years of real world experience.

    May 21, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  15. gt

    oh yea and how many jobs did obama or biden ever create...none... both have live off the public pockets....

    May 21, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  16. rla

    Claudia-- Bush was a fool and we elected another fool so don't try to compare two fools and their parties.. No matter where the debt came from it needs to go away and the Democrats have no plan, can't create a budget and reject the presidents budget with no votes favoring it in both house and senate... Oh by the way the democrats have a whole new set of tax increases set for just after the election including a medicare raise to $245 in 2014, Obama care taxes, and a whole list of others.

    May 21, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  17. Marie MD

    @atmyviewis, NO, there's plenty of things to go against the flip flopper. Unlike the tea tardsntrying to resurrect Wright from four years ago and miserably fail bain is for real and there are many stories of job losses and companies bankrupted.
    Your sociorobully bishop has LOT of things he said and believed in which he now doesn't remember, like bullying a gay student and torturing his dog. He has changed his mind so many times that he has admitted it publicly at some gathering of his sorry followers. ..... "and I am not familiar with precisely exactly what I said but I stand by what I said whatever it was". WHAT!?!?!?!?!? And he probably though it was sinister smile of his funny.
    There ladies and gents is the flip flopper's beliefs in whatever it is he thinks he believes in at the time.

    May 21, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  18. BADGUY

    really – But there's TWO problems getting that "breakdown":
    1. Bain keeps all that information "Confidential". They refuse to release it.
    2. Many of the workers Mitt claims are "his" contribution, were hired AFTER Bain had left the scene. Companies DO "survive" an "assault" from a leveraged buyout takeover. But...they don't "thrive" because of it! Many go bankrupt, because of the huge debt and loss of assets imposed on them by the leveraged buyout company. The one's that DO survive and are able to grow both their business and employment, do so, NO THANKS to the leveraged buyouts. Bain did do ""venture capital" enterprises (growing small companies into large ones) ONLY for a short time after Bain was founded. It's THESE ventures that Mitt like's to "trot out" as a demonstration of his "business ability". But "venture capital" enterprises represented only 3% of Bain's ventures during Mitt's time as CEO (per the WSJ). Mitt quickly realized it was much easier and much more profitable to buy control of a larger company, a company with a growing business and large assets relative to stock price. There was much more money to be made by TAKING the wealth OTHER people produced rather than growing the wealth themselves. Even Mitt couldn't give a straight answer as to how many people were employed as a direct result of his efforts. First he said 10,000. Then he said 120,000. The guy and many experts have no idea concerning the REAL number. I would guess it's impossible to determine.

    May 21, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  19. gg

    america has had bain economic,s since 1980–time for made in america

    May 21, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  20. Dave

    Unlike Obama, Romney actually has an economic record of success. Obama's stimulus failed. GM and Solyndra stil went bankrupt after wasting billions in tax payer dollars.

    May 21, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  21. Jerubbaal

    Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Staples and The Sports Avthority are not the jobs that produce middle class wages on which you can send your kids to college, purchase a home and live the American dream. They do provide a permaneant underclass, those who rely on the gov't services to survive that so many on the right rail against and wish to abolish. Has the repubs noticed the racial makeup of those employed by these companies, they are the same people that you want to deport. Love your neighbor as you love yourself or face the jvdgdment that you judge others with, hypocrites.

    May 21, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  22. jenniferatlanta

    Romney does not want to talk about the consequences of his "leadership " and the results of his business decisions. He refuses to give an outline of his economic plan . He thinks these are "IRRELEVANT " , which defies sound judgement.

    May 21, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |