Boom: Romney Punches Back on Bain

Posted: May 14, 2012 4:40 PM

The Romney campaign team ate their Wheaties this morning, it seems.  They've undertaken a two-pronged approach to combating Team Obama's desperate and factually inaccurate ad about Mitt Romney's private sector experience, which blames the former CEO for job losses that occurred years after he'd left Bain Capital.  First, they're returning fire -- not with negative spots about Solyndra (or any of this president's myriad boondoggles), but with a positive counter-example.  Watch how Mitt Romney's leadership and savvy investment plan helped build a thriving steel plant in Indiana that employs thousands of American workers:

The reason the Obama people are running their ad at this early stage is that they recognize the urgent need to disqualify Romney in voters' minds, starting now.  They're not going to win this election on their record or accomplishments, so they have no choice but to obliterate the other guy.  If Romney can establish himself as a sensible, competent alternative, all the mud in the world may not suffice to smear him in the fall.  Thus, Team Obama and its allies are doing everything within their power to paint their opponent as a callous, dog-hating, mean-spirited "vampire" capitalist and bully.  Now that this crucial definitional process is underway, the Romney camp is engaging in the fight by introducing its candidate in a favorable light.  This web ad features real workers who owe their jobs to Bain Capital's investment - a brilliant stroke.  The subtext is clear: "Democrats will put sad workers on camera to blame Mitt Romney for their woes (even when he had nothing to do with their misfortune) but there's a much broader story of hope, entrepreneurship, and enduring American jobs that they won't tell you about."  My only beef with this spot is that it's only available online.  Sure, it'll generate a fair amount of earned media on cable news and talk radio, but that's not enough.  The Romney/RNC crew should seriously look at buying television time in the four states (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Virginia) where Obama's two-minute propaganda reel is airing.  They might even want to consider expanding the media buy to places like Indiana, North Carolina, and Missouri, as well.  If they can start to neutralize and parlay the Bain attacks now, they'll significantly disrupt Obama's grand re-election scheme. In addition to this effective piece of "positive defense," the GOP is also going on "negative offense," slamming President Obama on his demonstrable deficit failures:

In poll after poll, President Obama scores terribly on questions regarding his handling of deficits and debt.  As he should.  This president has presided over a $5 Trillion national debt increase in less than four years, after he called President Bush's $4 Trillion of accrued debt over eight years "unpatriotic."  He's institutionalized trillion-dollar deficits after pledging to cut that number in half by the end of his first term.  And his own administration admits he has no solutions to reduce our long-term debt, evidenced by his 2013 budget that literally never balances.  Obama is extremely vulnerable here, so using his own words and standards to further undermine his flagging credibility on the deficits and debt is good politics.  But I repeat: Web ads are fine, but at some point soon they need to start actually airing in battleground states.

UPDATE - Headlines and reports like this might complicate Obama's Bain demagoguery, no?


President Barack Obama’s campaign took aim at Republican Mitt Romney’s private equity experience on the same day the president is raising money at the New York apartment of Blackstone Group LP (BX) President Tony James... The criticism in Obama’s campaign ad mirrors attacks leveled at Romney during the Republican primaries. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Governor Rick Perry, who have since endorsed Romney, previously called the Republican front- runner a corporate raider who stripped businesses, loaded them with debt and fired their workers for profit. At the time, James said such attacks may slow buyouts. “Pension funds have boards, they don’t want to be giving money to an industry that has a taint,” James, 61, said Feb. 7 in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s ‘InsideTrack’ with Erik Schatzker. “Similarly, boards of directors don’t want to sell their company to organizations they don’t view as respectable. So it could be very damaging for the industry.”

UPDATE II - Jim Geragthy has been on a Twitter tear, pointing out the absurdity of the Obama folks trying to gin up fear about a possible Romney economy.  Obama's unemployment rate has been above eight percent for 39 straight months.  Our national credit rating was downgraded on his watch.  Our national debt stands at $16 Trillion and counting.  Our labor force participation rate is at a 30 year low, as poverty is on the rise and the median household income has fallen sharply.  GDP growth is slowing. Three million homes have been foreclosed on since 2008.  But we're supposed to be frightened by Romney, or something.