Obama campaign launches assault on Romney's Massachusetts record
May 30th, 2012
06:10 PM ET
11 years ago

Obama campaign launches assault on Romney's Massachusetts record

(CNN) – After weeks of hitting Mitt Romney for his tenure at Bain Capital, President Barack Obama's re-election team shifted focus to the Republican's record as governor of Massachusetts Wednesday, painting his time in the state house as overloaded with unfulfilled promises.

In a campaign memo, Obama campaign senior strategist David Axelrod wrote that Romney gave voters a misleading portrayal of his business background. Axelrod will hold a campaign press conference at the Boston State House Thursday, an Obama campaign source said.

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"Ten years ago, Mitt Romney told the people of Massachusetts that his experience in business uniquely qualified him to strengthen the state's economy," Axelrod wrote. "Foreshadowing the message of his current campaign, Romney presented himself as a 'job creator,' whose experience as a corporate buyout specialist had given him special insight into how to grow the economy."

Axelrod continued, "It was a false representation. For, as even his colleagues have acknowledged, Romney's goal in business was never job creation. It was to maximize quick profits for himself and his investors."

That mindset, Axelrod wrote, led to disappointing economic conditions for residents of Massachusetts.

"Republicans and Democrats across the state were hopeful that he would deliver on his promises," Axelrod wrote. "When he left office, however, state debt had increased, the size of government had grown, and over his four years, Massachusetts' record of job creation was among the worst in the nation."

Axelrod cites a statistic in his memo that Massachusetts was ranked 47th out of 50 states in terms of job creation during Romney's tenure as governor – a figure members of Obama's re-election team frequently use in criticizing their GOP rival.

The non-partisan PolitiFact characterized the Obama campaign's use of that statistic "half true," saying in June 2011 the numbers themselves are correct, but that it's a stretch to blame Romney (or any governor) for a state's jobs numbers.

A Romney campaign spokeswoman portrayed the latest attacks from Obama's team as "desperate," saying they reflected a less-than-stellar jobs creation record on the president's part.

"This is another desperate attack from President Obama because he has no positive record to run on," Romney press secretary Andrea Saul wrote. "Mitt Romney created more jobs in the state of Massachusetts than President Obama has for the entire nation. President Obama has failed to meet his own goal of 6% unemployment and has a net negative record on job creation."

She continued, "If President Obama had even half the job creation record of Mitt Romney, then he would be running on it."

The figure Saul cites – that Romney created more jobs in Massachusetts than Obama had created as president – is another frequent line used on the campaign trail.

PolitiFact rated that fact as accurate, but pointed out "there were two national recessions that bookended Romney's four years in office."

Axelrod also took aim at Romney's record on taxes as governor, saying the Republican broke a promise to fight high taxes on working families.

"In Massachusetts in 2002, Romney promised to fight against higher taxes on working families," Axelrod wrote. "But he raised taxes and fees on middle class families and small businesses that hit average taxpayers in the pocketbook, raised a gas tax, and the tax burden on Bay Staters was up more than $1,200 at the end of his term."

Romney's record on taxes was similarly hit by fellow Republicans during the GOP primaries. A CNNMoney analysis of his record determined he cut select taxes while in office, and proposed some new tax cuts that didn't pass the legislature - like a 0.3 percentage point reduction in the 5.3% state income tax rate.

But he also had an obligation to balance the state's budget every year, and when he came into office he was facing a big deficit that he plugged using a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases.

In his memo Wednesday, Axelrod also took Romney to task for his handling of Massachusetts' debt and deficit while governor, writing "Romney left a billion dollar deficit to his successor, having giving the public rosier projections than they were discussing internally."

Axelrod continued, "Now, Romney's promising eliminating the budget deficit and ensuring that children have a future free from the nation's debt. But his record shows that it didn't work in Massachusetts and it won't work now."

A Washington Post fact check of Romney's record on cutting the deficit in Massachusetts pointed out that "it doesn't make sense to mention Massachusetts's debt when it's not comparable to national debt in terms of its nature, or even in terms of its annual rate of growth."

The Washington Post also interviewed the non-partisan Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, which said that Romney's record on debt in the state wasn't necessarily out of the ordinary.

"I didn't get the sense that he attacked the problem or that he exacerbated it," Michael Widmer, the group's president, is quoted as saying. "The increases weren't dramatic compared to state finances, but, nonetheless, debt did increase."

CNN's Jim Acosta and CNNMoney's Jeanne Sahadi contributed to this report.

Also see:

Gingrich: Obama an 'American-born job-killing president'

Romney hits 'magic number' for GOP nomination

Incumbent outraised Democratic challenger in Wisconsin gubernatorial contest

Romney makes stop at raucous Vegas rally

Filed under: 2012 • David Axelrod • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    That's a very small and tight corner that our master chess playing President and his campaign are painting Romney into.
    What will Romney attempt to brag about next? His place in the Mormon hierarchy? His trust fund babies? His off-shore bank accounts? How much money he made while Americans were hitting rock-bottom? Magic underwear?

    May 30, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  2. Bill

    You knew this was coming. Romney will be eviscerated. He can not hide form this (even if he destroyed all the records).

    May 30, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  3. luke,az

    Gov Romney is not a leader, at best he's a mediocre manager. He has poor judgement,as evidenced by his association with Trump and Adelson. Romney is perfect as a puppet of the 1%.

    May 30, 2012 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  4. CRAIG

    Business experience doesn't mean that someone is qualified to be president of the United States. But, of course Romney thinks he's qualified because he "can read a balance sheet."

    May 30, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  5. Angel

    Romney was a one term governor who didn't seek re- election.

    May 30, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  6. Four and The Door

    Axelrod continued, "It was a false representation. For, as even his colleagues have acknowledged, Romney's goal in business was never job creation. It was to maximize quick profits for himself and his investors."
    Is David Axelrod really this ignorant about private business? Or maybe he is assuming most Americans don't know anything about business? Here's the point he misses completely in what he is saying. For-profit companies do not go into business to create jobs. They don't. That's never a goal. They have to earn their survival and creating jobs does not earn survival. They go into business to be profitable. That is what keeps them in business. Sorry, but it's a fact of life.
    But that is not bad news. Because in order to make profit you need to grow businesses and this usually takes people and creates jobs. The best job a person can have is one that is absolutely necessary for the company. This is a win-win-win situation. The investors win, the employee wins and the community wins. Nothing wrong with that!

    Romney 2012

    May 30, 2012 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  7. Blindersoff

    There is no excuse for Romney. A big fat phony! period.

    May 30, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  8. Mr 1% the "VULTURE CAPITALIST BUSINESSMAN" will outsource all the poor, disabled, unemployed and elderly, to China and sell America to the highest bidder!

    "Ax" did not earn his nick name by attending "tea parties"!

    May 30, 2012 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  9. Don't want my healthcare costs to double!

    Where do we email our request to ensure that Obama isn't a socialist? That certainly seems more likely than the unicorn request.

    May 30, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  10. tigerakabj

    Get him Axe. This is why Romhey never discusses his Massachusetts record. If he was such as success, he would have run for a second term. By the time he was done people were ready to boot him. He talked a good game about economics the same that he's talking now. Lastly, the 2001 recession was no comparison to the recession of 2008.

    Obama/Biden/E.Warren 2012

    May 30, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  11. jerry

    despirate measures for a despirate man. But, it's all he has. It won't work because obama couldn't tell the truth if it were put in his mouth....and Americans know a fraud when they see one.

    May 30, 2012 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  12. the Situation

    Well it's about time. Mitts has been running on his record throughout the GOP nomination to now with his business record. He has never even once talked about his record in Massachusetts were he was a failure. They were 36th in the nation in job creation when he started to fall to 3rd last. But he knows had to fix an ecomomy? He was for gun control, voted on being a moderate, but now he is for 2nd right amendment and believe the president is infringing on those rights.

    Bottomline, Romney will say anything to win. He is a notorious flip flopper and once that light is shined so brightly, he might as well say good night to his chances.

    May 30, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  13. Bob

    Who needs or wants alexithymic Mitt even for dog catcher?

    May 30, 2012 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  14. Tubby the Tuba Texas

    Romney is a loser trying to pass himself as a know-it-all!

    May 30, 2012 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  15. Kathy

    I really do like his model for the Health Care Act however! AKA Obamacare Way to go Mitt

    May 30, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  16. Thomas

    Why didn't Romney run a second turm as Governor ?

    There wasn't enough money in it !

    May 30, 2012 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  17. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Republicans have always said "Governors are more qualified to be president", haven't heard Republicans say that since Romney's running away from his record of Governor of Mass.

    May 30, 2012 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  18. george of the jungle

    if it walks like a duck .... What attack? if it is the truth it is no attack. Romney was a lousy governor and and a milk toast flip flopper who doesn't want to make waves with the repo loonies so he has no values or morals. Oh and his dad was not born in US so what does that make romney??? Idiots Obama 2012 Forward

    May 30, 2012 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  19. maximusvad

    Romney claims balancing state budgets is not like balancing a federal budget so it's not fair to use his Mass. governor failure as a comparison. SO we should use your CEO experience at firing people and turning only profit for yourself and your investors as a window of success. He will complete the destruction of the middle and working class given the chance.

    May 30, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  20. sundrop

    Do state govenors create jobs or the president? Governors are always trying to get busniesses to come to their state.

    May 30, 2012 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  21. yobi

    you know GOP is hurting real real bad when they nominate a guy who have been running for president for 6 years and people still don't know what he really stands for. yet he would like a shot at running the country, i guess he is counting on people who voted for Bush. look at his accomplishments that he is running on... from Bain – being the job killer in US and creator in China to being 47th in job creation being a governor to how he said his healthcare is 'a national model' until tea party showed up.
    the very least, you know where Obama stands for. whether you agree or disagree on his policies at least you know what he would like to do. i can't say that for Romney. but i wish he gets elected....my guess on his first term would be a couple of wars (for sure Iran), wall street and the already rich becoming ... and the end of US as we know it with a confirmation to a new sheriff in town... China. have Romney, i will miss Bush.

    May 30, 2012 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  22. Think first

    Obama has nothing to say about jobs. He's pretty much wiped them out in our location.

    May 30, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  23. The Bucko

    Axelrod continued, "It was a false representation. For, as even his colleagues have acknowledged, Romney's goal in business was never job creation. It was to maximize quick profits for himself and his investors."
    Axelrod is the "brains" of Obama's campaign. He does not seem to know how Capitalism works nor does Obama. Jobs are a secondary result of making a profit. What jerks!

    May 30, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  24. gatornuts

    Yeah Obama is right on this one. Romney is a liberal. I don't care for him.

    May 30, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  25. don lardo

    good idea-go after his record because yours is horrible

    May 30, 2012 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |