President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign attacked Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital LLC, with a top adviser saying Americans have a “visceral reaction” to the Republican candidate’s record leading the private-equity firm.
Romney’s tenure at Boston-based Bain, which he founded and ran for 15 years, is emerging as a flash point in the presidential race. The Obama campaign and its allies this month began airing commercials targeting Romney’s record at Bain, portraying him as a corporate raider eager to put profits ahead of employees.
Bain Capital “loads up companies with debt,” Robert Gibbs, an Obama campaign aide and former White House press secretary, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program yesterday. “It takes money out of those companies and pays those investors. It’s not about job creation.”
Republicans say the Obama campaign’s attacks on Bain are part of a broader antagonism toward the private sector of the economy and a preference for government-run programs.
“This president is hostile to job creators,” Ed Gillespie, a Romney campaign adviser, said on “Face the Nation.”
Romney often tells campaign audiences that he helped create a net of 100,000 jobs during his years at Bain, pointing to retail sales positions at Staples Inc. (SPLS:US) and Sports Authority Inc. Neither the private-equity firm nor his campaign have documented that figure in response to repeated requests by Bloomberg News. Bain Capital doesn’t track jobs lost or gained as a result of its investments.
Gillespie said 80 percent of the companies in which Bain invested grew.
“There were a number of investments that didn’t perform well,” he said. “In the case of Bain it was less than 5 percent of the investments that ended up in bankruptcy.”
Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a Republican candidate for president in 2008, said Romney’s success in running Bain contrasts well with Obama’s experience as a community organizer, law professor and legislator who began running for president as soon as he arrived in Washington as a U.S. senator.
“We have found out what a president who has no experience is going to give us,” Giuliani said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “He’s going to give us tremendous failure, the largest debt we’ve ever had, the highest levels of sustained long-term unemployment since the depression.”
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Obama will be happy to run on his record on the economy, including his support of tax breaks for small business and lower interest rates on student loans.
Obama can point to “26 straight months of job growth in the private sector, a resurgence in the manufacturing sector and an opportunity to rescue, and thankfully rescue, the American automobile industry when Mitt Romney would have let them go bankrupt,” the Florida representative said on the CNN program.
Former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said Obama can’t win a debate over the state of the economy. The U.S. unemployment rate was 8.1 percent in April, down from a peak during Obama’s term of 10 percent in April
“Obama picking a fight on the economy is probably the worst possible strategy for his campaign,” said Gingrich, the former House speaker, on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
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