The Obama campaign has launched a new negative ad against Mitt Romney, arguing that his a heartless, outsourcin,' greedy "corporate raider:"
The Washington Post's fact checker is decidedly unimpressed, awarding the spot "four Pinocchios," its harshest review possible. Why?
The Obama campaign fails to make its case. On just about every level, this ad is misleading, unfair and untrue, from the use of “corporate raider” to its examples of alleged outsourcing. Simply repeating the same debunked claims won’t make them any more correct.
On the "corporate raider" label:
In a previous life, The Fact Checker covered renowned corporate raiders such as Carl Icahn and his ilk. We also have closely studied Bain Capital and can find no examples that come close to this situation; its deals were done in close association with management. Indeed, Bain generally held onto its investments for four or five years, in contrast to the quick bust-em-ups of real corporate raiders. So calling Romney a “corporate raider” is a real stretch. So how does the Obama campaign justify this phrase? It cites a single Reuters story from last August, about a campaign stop in New Hampshire, written by a stringer, Jason McLure, who was previously based in Africa. Buried in the article is a reference to Romney as a “former corporate raider.”
Regarding the outsourcing claims, we have frowned on these before. The Obama campaign rests its case on three examples of Bain-controlled companies sending jobs overseas. But only one of the examples — involving Holson Burns Group — took place when Romney was actively managing Bain Capital. Regarding the other claims, concerning Canadian electronics maker SMTC Manufacturing and customer service firm Modus Media, the Obama campaign tries to take advantage of a gray area in which Romney had stepped down from Bain — to manage the Salt Lake City Olympics — but had not sold his shares in the firm. We had previously given the Obama campaign Three Pinocchios for such tactics. The Modus Media case is also not an example of shipping jobs overseas. The company closed one plant in California and transferred the jobs to North Carolina, Washington and Utah. At the same time, it opened an unrelated plant in Mexico.
On factual sourcing:
The ad also cites as a source a Boston Globe article from last month that merely reports on an earlier ad making similar charges. That’s highly circular reasoning — and is not fair play.
But aside from all that, this seems like a pretty fair, incisive commercial. Meanwhile, a few new polls are out today: AP shows Obama leading Romney 47-44 overall (down from his eight-point lead in May), and Quinippiac says the president has opened up a small lead in Florida. Rasmussen's daily tracker has Romney up four, while Gallup's pegs Romney's lead at two points. Political handicapper Stuart Rothenberg just made the bold statement that Obama is now a slight underdog heading into the fall, but I'm not sure I agree. The president just endured a punishing month, yet has hung right in there. This is going to be a very tight, challenging election.
UPDATE - Two more data points for you: Gallup shows Obama's approval rating taking a nose dive to 43/49 -- down three points in the three day survey cycle. And yet another poll shows Michigan looking like a pure toss up between Romney and Obama -- who carried the state by 16 points in 2008.