Mitt Romney wants voters to see his 15 years at the head of the private equity firm Bain Capital as his chief strength: he’s a fix-it guy who knows how the economy works and how to create jobs.
President Obama’s team knows that sluggish job growth is a weakness, so it is busy writing a darker Bain story, of Romney the “vampire” capitalist who sucked dozens of companies dry, laying off workers and looting pensions, so he and other super-rich investors could reap bigger profits.
On Tuesday a super PAC supporting Obama – Priorities USA -- bought $4 million worth of time on TV and online in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Virginia. The spot is centered on the tale of GST Steel in Kansas City, Mo., shuttered in 2001, the same case study used in an Obama campaign ad released on Monday. (It will be shown Wednesday during the network evening news in the battleground states.)
Priorities USA’s ad features Pat Wells, a former steelworker who lost his job and benefits while Bain got nearly $9 million in profit. “He promised us the same things he’s promising the United States,” Wells said. “And he’ll give you the same thing he gave us. Nothing. He’ll take it all.”
Illinois U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, the co-chair of Obama’s campaign, said in an interview the point is not to attack private equity companies per se but to show that Romney’s claims of job creation are exaggerated.
“None of the heads of these other companies is running for president of the United States,” Schakowsky said. Romney’s record at Bain, she said, shows that he has “a philosophy that workers are expendable, communities are expendable.”
In addition, Romney’s economic program would cut tax rates for the wealthy further in an attempt to spur growth, and he has endorsed the budget plan put forth by Rep. Paul Ryan (R.,Wisc.) that would curtail Medicare costs by giving seniors grants to buy private insurance.
“As the president has said over and over, we want to make sure that everyone gets a fair shake,” Schakowsky said. “Romney rules are different for the rich and for the middle class.”
She was in Philadelphia Tuesday for a news conference with labor leaders to discuss Romney’s Bain record.
“We have a big job ahead of us, talking with our people about the issues and the comparison between these two guys,” said Pat Eiding, president of the Philadelphia Council of the AFL-CIO. “Mitt Romney would take us back to the way things were in the eight years of George Bush, when the rich got richer and working people had no representation at all.”