Supporters of Newt Gingrich have bought the rights to a new short movie that is very critical of Mitt Romney’s tenure as head of Bain Capital.
Romney’s business career made him a very wealthy man, but has come under some criticism because Bain bought some companies and put them out of business.
The movie, called “King of Bain, When Mitt Romney Came to Town,” has not been distributed, but has been viewed by ABC News. It was made by former Romney supporters and intersperses interviews with some workers who blame Romney’s company for losing their jobs with ominous music. At one point it focuses on K.B. Toys, which made money for Bain even as it closed stores.
The movie and Romney’s record at Bain were the subject of questioning at the ABC News and Yahoo News sponsored debate in New Hampshire Saturday night, when George Stephanopoulos asked Gingrich to talk about it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring Speaker Gingrich in on this discussion, because, Mr. Speaker, a group supporting your run — one run by one of your closest long-time advisers just put out a very scathing attack, just today, on Governor Romney, on his tenure as the CEO of that investment firm, Bain Capital.
It calls that tenure “a story of greed,” that’s a quote, saying that Bain made spectacular profits by, again, quote, “stripping American businesses of assets, selling everything to the highest bidder and often killing jobs for big financial rewards.”
Do you agree with that characterization?
NEWT GINGRICH: Well, I — I haven’t seen the film, but it does reflect “The New York Times” story two days ago about one particular company. And I think people should look at the film and decide. If it’s factually accurate, it raises questions.
I’m very much for free enterprise. I’m very much for exactly what the Governor just described, create a business, grow jobs, provide leadership.
I’m not nearly as enamored of a Wall Street model where you can flip companies, you can go in and have leveraged buyouts, you can basically take out all the money, leaving behind the workers. And I think most…
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that the Bain model?
GINGRICH: Well, I — I think you have to look at the film. You have to look at “The New York Times” coverage of one particular company. And you have to ask yourself some questions.
The Governor has every right to defend that. And I think — but I think it’s a legitimate part of the debate to say, OK, on balance, were people better off or were people worse off by this particular style of investment?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Back in December, you said that Governor Romney made money at Bain by, quote, “bankrupting companies and laying off employees.”
GINGRICH: That was, I think, “The New York Times” story two days ago. They took one specific company. They walked through in detail. They showed what they bought it for, how much they took out of it and the 1,700 people they left unemployed. Now that’s — check “The New York Times” story, but that’s their story.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Romney, your response?
ROMNEY: Well, I — I’m not surprised to have “The New York Times” try and put free enterprise on trial. I’m not surprised to have the Obama administration do that, either. It’s a little surprising from my colleagues on this stage. We understand that in the free economy, in the private sector, that — that sometimes investments don’t work and you’re not successful. It always pains you if you have to be in a situation of — of downsizing a business in order to try and make it more successful, turn it around and try and grow it again.
And I’m very proud of the fact that the two enterprises I led were quite successful and the Olympics were successful. And my state was successful, the state of Massachusetts.
But in the business I had, we invested in over 100 different businesses and net-net, taking out the ones where we lost jobs and those that we added, those businesses have now added over 100,000 jobs.
I have a record of learning how to create jobs…
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, there have been questions about that — that — that calculation of a hundred thousand jobs. So if you could explain it a little more. I — I’ve read some analysts who look at it and say that you’re counting the jobs that were created but not counting the jobs that were taken away.
Is that accurate?
ROMNEY: No, it’s not accurate. It includes the net of both. I’m a good enough numbers guy to make sure I got both sides of that.
But — but the — the simple ones, some of the biggest, for instance, there’s a steel company called Steel Dynamics in Indiana, thousands of jobs there. Bright Horizons Children’s Centers, about 15,000 jobs there; Sports Authority, about 15,000 jobs there. Staples alone, 90,000 employed. That’s a business that we helped start from the ground up.
But there were some…
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that includes jobs that were created even after you left, right?
ROMNEY: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Those — those are businesses we started that continue to grow. And — and we’re only a small part of that, by the way. We were investors to help get them going. But in some cases, businesses shrunk. We tried to help turn them around, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.
But let’s not forget, this is a free enterprise system. We don’t need government to come in and tell us how to make businesses work. We need people with passion, willing to take risk and help turn things around. And where that works, you create jobs.