Mitt Romney, a job-killing economic “vampire”? That’s the message of a new ad by President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, which aims to turn the presumptive Republican nominee’s business record into a liability as voters worry about the struggling economy.
A two-minute version of the new video will run in Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Virginia. A six-minute version is available on a new Obama campaign site that is specifically devoted to criticizing Romney’s approach to economic issues. Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said the former Massachusetts governor welcomed Team Obama’s “attempt to pivot back to jobs and a discussion of their failed record.”
The Obama campaign ad focuses on Bain Capital’s misadventures with GST steel of Kansas City and features former steelworkers describing what they saw between the time Bain bought the firm in 1993 and filed to put it in bankruptcy in 2001. (Romney left Bain in 1999).
“It was like a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us,” says one of the men. “What Bain Capital did was not capitalism, it was bad management,” says David Foster, lead negotiator for workers at GST Steel. Former steelworker Joe Soptic accuses Bain of cutting corners on safety, saying “it was like working in the sweatshops of the ’30s,” and that watching the plant close was “like watching an old friend bleed to death.”
“It makes me angry,” Soptic says. “Those guys were all rich. They all have more money than they’ll ever spend. They have more money than their families will ever spend. Yet they didn’t have the money to take care of the very people that made the money for them.”
In January, the Reuters news agency published a long analysis of Romney and Bain’s record with GST, along with his record in private equity overall. (Of note: The plant’s owners approached Bain Capital “because it had earned a sterling reputation for turning companies around.”)
The new ad drew immediate fire from a former economic adviser to the president, Steven Rattner, dubbed the “Car Czar” because he oversaw the administration’s automobile industry overhaul. Interviewed on MSNBC, the investment banker and private equity financier bluntly declared “I think the ad is unfair.”
Noting the video’s focus on lost jobs, Rattner said, “This is part of capitalism, this is part of life, and I don’t think there’s anything Bain Capital did that they need to be embarrassed about.”
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