THE RACE: Obama walking fine line in Bain critique

AP News
Posted: May 23, 2012 4:31 PM
THE RACE: Obama walking fine line in Bain critique

President Barack Obama has to tread carefully in targeting Republican rival Mitt Romney's business resume.

He risks reinforcing criticism that he's anti-business. He doesn't want to look like he's assailing free enterprise.

Obama's campaign has put out a biting TV ad featuring laid-off workers from a now-bankrupt steel company that was bought by Romney's Bain Capital. The ad suggests Romney was a "vampire" capitalist.

Obama tried to soften the edges when he told reporters he wasn't questioning private equity firms but Romney's claim that his business experience burnished his presidential credentials. At Bain, Romney worked to "maximize profit" for investors," not to benefit society, Obama suggested.

Even so, some prominent Democrats have questioned the strategy.

Romney responded by telling Time Magazine that "someone who spent their career in the economy is more suited to help fix the economy than someone who spent his life in politics and as a community organizer."

Vice President Joe Biden threw fuel on the fire when he told a New Hampshire campaign event that private-equity experience "no more qualifies you to be president than being a plumber."

That annoyed at least one plumber. "I definitely have a problem with it," said Samuel Wurzelbacher, dubbed "Joe the Plumber" by 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain and now seeking to unseat Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who waged a withering primary attack on Romney's tenure at Bain, offered his own take on why Obama should focus his attacks elsewhere.

"We found out when we got in a fight with Mitt Romney over this that it didn't work," he told CNN's Piers Morgan.

Romney spoke Wednesday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where he suggested that many Democrats "love the economy, they just don't like business."

Obama addressed graduates at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.


Follow Tom Raum on Twitter: For more AP political coverage, look for the 2012 Presidential Race in AP Mobile's Big Stories section. Also follow and AP journalists covering the campaign: