Bain Pain (The Note)

May 14, 2012 8:42am

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone) and AMY WALTER (@amyewalter)

NOTABLES: 

  • BRING ON THE BAIN: The Obama campaign’s new, two-minute ad revives a line of attack against Mitt Romney’s record at the private equity firm, Bain Capital. It didn’t get much traction during the GOP primary, but will this trial balloon float or fall in the general election?
  • DEBT DUEL: The Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee are gearing up for a fight with Team Obama over what they see as the president’s broken promises on reducing the debt and deficit. Buckle-up for a week’s worth of joint messaging focusing on these issues, starting with a new web video and research document today.
  • TRUE COLORS: ABC’s Reena Ninan sat down with pop star and LGBT youth homelessness activist Cyndi Lauper who weighed in on the president’s decision to back same-sex marriage: “I’ve never been so proud of a president before, I’m so proud to be American.”  http://yhoo.it/JcTZoa
  • NOTE IT! In our virtual political roundtable, ABC’s Jake Tapper sees a broader message in the Obama campaign’s new ad: “that Romney economic policy is based on a return to policies of the past that have hurt middle class workers” and Rick Klein wonders whether the new TV spot will resonate.

 

THE NOTE:

Remember a few months ago when Mitt Romney’s rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich, compared Romney’s work at Bain Capital to “rich people figuring out clever legal ways to loot a company”?

Gingrich may be gone, but now the Obama campaign is giving his words new life in an ad campaign they are unveiling today that raises thorny questions about Romney’s work at the private equity firm — work that he touts on the campaign trail.

At first glance, the portrait that the Obama campaign’s new message paints is devastating. It tells the story of a Kansas City steel company, purchased by Bain in 1993, that subsequently went bankrupt.

As the Obama campaign tells it, “Romney and his partners loaded it with debt, closed the Kansas City plant and walked away with a healthy profit, leaving hundreds of employees out of work with their pensions in jeopardy.”

One of workers who lost their job at the plant, Joe Soptic, appears in the ad: “It makes me angry,” he says. “Those guys were all rich. They all had more money than they’ll ever spend, yet they didn’t have the money to take care of the very people that made the money for them.”

Another affected steel worker featured in the two-minute spot adds, “We view Mitt Romney as a job destroyer.” (WATCH: http://bit.ly/JVLUWS)

ABC’s Devin Dwyer points out that it was exactly one week ago that senior strategist David Axelrod was touting how the campaign was going to run on President Obama’s record and had “spent more money offering people a positive vision” than attacking.

For those keeping score at home, this is the Obama campaign’s seventh multi-state ad buy of the cycle. It will hit television screens in Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Virginia.

The Romney campaign dismissed the ad  this morning as Team Obama’s attempt to “distract voters from the fact that their policies are not working.”

“President Obama can’t come close to matching the many years of experience that Mitt Romney has as a private businessman so he has chosen to attack it,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement.

The campaign also pointed out that the bankruptcy of the Kansas City company, GST Steel, occurred after Romney had already relinquished day-to-day control of Bain in order to run the Salt Lake City Olympic Games.

“‘I take personal responsibility for making the investment,” Romney is quoted as saying in a 2002 Boston Globe article about the plant closure. “But I didn’t manage these companies.”

The Bain attack was not particularly effective during the primary season — but that was then, and this is now. The Obama campaign is banking that a general election audience will be more receptive to taking a second look at Romney’s record in the private sector and now they’ll be waiting to see whether this trial balloon floats or falls.

 

GOP COUNTER-PROGRAMMING: DEBT AND DEFICITS. The Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee plan to jointly push a message this week that focuses President Obama’s promises on cutting the national deficit and reducing the debt. “President Obama has broken his promise over and over when it comes to reining in Washington’s out of control spending,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “During the campaign, he lambasted the growing debt and, once elected, he pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. Yet, President Obama’s record has been to double-down on Washington’s out of control spending by running trillion dollar deficits every year he’s been in office.

The RNC is honing in on three key arguments:

–”Obama saw danger in adding to the debt saying it would lead to a double dip recession but has since become the ‘undisputed debt king of the past five presidents’”

–”Obama promised to cut the deficit in half but racked up the three highest deficits in history”

–”Obama refused to address entitlement reform for political reasons and chose to kick the can down the road instead”

They are releasing a new web video this morning titled: “Empty Promises: Debt and Deficits” (WATCH: http://bit.ly/JVYzZY) as well as a lengthy research piece: “Not On His Watch: Obama Has Avoided Making ‘The Hard Decisions’ On The Debt, Leaving The Situation Worse After Almost Four Years Under His Watch.” http://bit.ly/J2XWBc

 

NOTE IT!

ABC’s JAKE TAPPER on the Obama campaign’s new ad: “There are a few things at play here. One is the demonization of Romney as heartless robber baron, which is the classic 2004 campaign approach: When your approval is weak, make the alternative so unacceptable voters will support you even if they don’t approve. But more broadly there’s the Obama economic argument that Romney economic policy is based on a return to policies of the past that have hurt middle class workers. And of course, it’s a change of subject from current state of the economy and unemployment.”

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: The Obama campaign’s long new ad paints a harsh portrait of Mitt Romney’s business record — Team Obama’s stretch of positive advertising promised for May ending early. But one challenge Democrats will have in gaining traction behind the storyline is that Romney has heard it all before. Job losses at companies taken over by Bain have been an issue in every campaign Romney has run, going back to his 1994 Senate race against Ted Kennedy. So far, Obama for America has nothing on New Gingrich’s Super PAC, and even Gingrich’s own attacks on “vulture capitalist” Romney.

 

“THIS WEEK” REPLAY:

BARNEY FRANK ON THIS WEEK “I HOPE FINAL VOLCKER RULE WOULD PREVENT JP MORGAN ACTIONS” Addressing JP Morgan’s stunning $2 billion loss reported last week, Barney Frank, co-author of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that the Volcker rule, part of the reform bill which would place limits on certain speculative trading, is still being formulating, but that he hopes “that the final rule will prevent this.”Part of the problem frankly is that Republicans… have reduced the funding that we’ve asked for, for the agency that’s supposed to regulate derivatives” Frank said. WATCH:  http://abcn.ws/KdPn2F

NOTED: JP MORGAN EXECUTIVES TO RESIGN. Three top traders at JP Morgan Chase, including chief investment officer Ina R. Drew, will step down on Monday. The New York Times reports: They are the first departures of leading officials since Jamie Dimon, the chief executive, disclosed the bank’s stunning $2 billion loss on Thursday.” http://nyti.ms/ISB2Yi

THE POLITICS OF SAME SEX MARRIAGE. Mary Matalin, Hilary Rosen, Eliot Spitzer, Ralph Reed and Maggie Haberman debated the political ramifications of Obama’s decision to announce his support for sex-same marriage on Sunday’s “This Week” roundtable. The group also tackled JP Morgan’s massive loss, Obama v. Romney and the stories of Romney as a bully when he was in high school. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/xEMGw

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: More video and highlights from this Sunday’s edition of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”: http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/

 

VIDEO OF THE DAY: CYNDI LAUPER ON THE TRUE COLORS OF POLITICS. In the latest installment of ABC News/Yahoo!’s Power Players series, ABC’s Reena Ninan sat down with pop star and activist in the fight against LGBT youth homelessness Cyndi Lauper after President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage. Lauper told Ninan, “I’ve never been so proud of a president before, I’m so proud to be American. I been seeing all my life the disparity and the inequality, and so to be a part of this and be here at this time gave me great hope.  http://yhoo.it/JcTZoa

 

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s Elizabeth Hartfield (@LizHartfield)

POLITICAL INSIGHTS: OBAMA RESTARTS CULTURE WARS ON OFFENSE. ABC’s Rick Klein observes “President Obama’s move to embrace same-sex marriage sets an unmistakable tone for the general election: Democrats don’t feel the need to fear social issues, even ones that have been conservative lynchpins in years past. Democrats, starting with the one who’s topping the ticket, are the ones inserting talk of gay rights and reproductive rights into the national conversation.”  http://abcn.ws/J10Qqn

NOTED: AGE, PARTISAN DIVIDE IN SAME SEX MARRIAGE DEBATE, POLL FINDS. The latest New York Times/CBS News poll highlights the divide along partisan and age lines in the debate over whether same sex marriage should be legal, with younger people and Democrats more likely to support it. The New York Times Dalia Sussman reports “Age plays an important role, with younger Americans more apt to support same-sex marriage than older Americans. Political partisanship is a factor as well. A majority of Democrats and about 4 in 10 independents back same-sex marriage, while Republicans are far more likely to say there should be no legal recognition of the relationships, the poll found.” http://nyti.ms/IQJCrU

CONTROVERSIAL COVER. The cover of Newsweek’s next issue, available on iPad and at news stands today, anoints President Obama as “The First Gay President,” reports ABC’s Matt LaRotonda. The cover shows a close-up portrait of the president with a rainbow-colored halo over his head, the colors referencing symbols adopted by the LGBT movement. The cover advertises an upcoming piece by Newsweek writer Andrew Sullivan in support of Obama’s record with the gay community. http://abcn.ws/JaWR51

TWO BROTHERS, TWO MEMORIES OF ROMNEY AT CRANBROOK. Peter Maxwell, brother of Philip Maxwell, who was one of the four boys to recount the story of Mitt Romney pinning a classmate down and cutting his hair, said it was a “shock” to hear the stories. ABC’s Shushannah Walshe reports that Peter Maxwell told ABC News “I would say the pranking would ring true, but the bullying was just a shock to me.” http://abcn.ws/IQkUqe

UPSTART GOP SUPER PAC AIMS TO ATTRACT YOUNG VOTERS. The AP’s Jack Gillum reports “Crossroads Generation, a new super PAC formed with the help of a handful of established GOP groups, is tapping into the economic frustrations of under-30 voters facing dim job prospects, crippling student loans or the prospect of having to move back home with their parents.” http://huff.to/JV2ypz

NEW RESTRICTIONS ISSUED ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES TRAVEL IN WAKE OF GSA SCANDAL. The Washington Post’s Joe Davidson reports “In the wake of the General Services Administration (GSA) scandal over an excessive Las Vegas conference, the Obama administration has placed new restrictions on federal travel and meetings. In a Friday memo to government officials, Jeffrey D. Zients, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, said, “Each agency shall spend at least 30 percent less on travel expenses covered by this memorandum than in FY 2010.” http://wapo.st/KF1vfg

OBAMA KEEPS PITCHING EQUAL PAY TO WOMEN. Bloomberg’s Kate Anderson Brower reports “In eight of his last 18 campaign events, Obama reminded voters that the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which provides employees more time to file such lawsuits, was the first piece of legislation he signed into law when he took office in 2009, and its namesake is now campaigning for his re-election. Yet there were fewer cases charging sex-based wage discrimination last year than the year before the law was signed, and the wage gap was wider in 2010 than it was in 2007.” http://bloom.bg/KD9klF

TESTING, TESTING — TEA PARTY STRENGTH. Roll Call’s David Drucker and Abby Livingston report ”As Washington’s tea party class endeavors to rekindle the movement’s magic, this month’s Texas Republican Senate primary stands as a crucial test of its strength and influence. The effort might backfire in Nebraska, where GOP Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.) and Rand Paul (Ky.) and conservative organizations including the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks have been stumping for state Treasurer Don Stenberg in Tuesday’s three-way GOP Senate primary.” http://bit.ly/J4b8pj

DISPATCH FROM THE GOLDEN STATE: CALIFORNIA’S NIGHTMARE. “The state budget shortfall in California has increased dramatically in the last six months, forcing state officials to assemble a series of new spending cuts that are likely to mean further reductions to schools, health care and other social programs already battered by nearly five years of budget retrenchment, state officials announced on Saturday,” reports The New York Times’ Adam Nagourney. “Gov. Jerry Brown, disclosing the development in a video posted on YouTube, said that California’s shortfall was now projected to be $16 billion, up from $9.2 billion in January. Mr. Brown said that he would propose a revised budget on Monday to deal with it. Mr. Brown disclosed the news in a video that had all the trappings of a campaign announcement. In it, he aggressively accounted for the steps he said he had taken to try to scale back a $26 billion deficit he found upon taking office. And he urged viewers to back an initiative he is putting on the November ballot that would increase sales taxes by 0.25 percent and impose an income tax surcharge on wealthy Californians to try to stave off more cuts.” http://nyti.ms/J184dm

 

IN THE NOTE’S INBOX: “War on Women: New MoveOn TV Ad Accuses Romney of ‘Throwing Women Under the Bus.’” A new 30 second ad from MoveOn.org titled “Congratulations Mitt Romney” accuses the presumptive GOP nominee of “throwing women under the bus” in his fight for the GOP nomination. The ad will run on national cable and in targeted markets. WATCH: http://bit.ly/LI6Did

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@dickstevenson: Following gay marriage decision, Obama reached out to black ministers, found many skeptical. @peterbakernyt: http://nyti.ms/Jd0dV0

@tackettdc: Read Al Hunt on the prospects of a Kennedy reenergizing the family business http://bloom.bg/LEUCKv via @BloombergView

@ktumulty: Alabama immig law also infringement of religious liberty, bishops say. This was in my parish bulletin yesterday. http://bit.ly/IxuRfd

@johndickerson: The men who love Mitt Romney: no enthusiasm gap here.http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2012/05/small_businessmen_in_swing_states_like_ohio_may_be_mitt_romney_s_natural_supporters_.2.html

@nickschifrin: Our story on Lockdown London: helicopter carrier, surface to air missiles deploying to capital for Olympics security http://abcn.ws/K9vCaI

 

POLITICAL RADAR

–President Barack Obama spends Monday in New York City delivering the commencement address at Barnard College. Obama will also tape an appearance on The View and hold two private fundraisers.

–Mitt Romney has no public events.

–First Lady Michelle Obama is in Dallas, TX where she will deliver remarks at a campaign event.

–On the Veepstakes front, Rob Portman will participate in a fundraising call for Mitt Romney.

–Tim Pawlenty is in Minneapolis, MN speaking at the University of Minnesota at a “Restoring America’s Future” discussion.

ABC’s Josh Haskell (@HaskellBuzz)

 Check out The Note’s Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV

 

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