The Obama campaign has launched a new round of negative TV attack ads against Mitt Romney, casting him as a heartless “job destroyer” during his days at Bain Capital.
A two-minute spot, set to begin airing today in five battleground states, tells the story of a Kansas City steel company — GST Steel — which was purchased by Bain in 1993 and went bankrupt in 2001. More than 750 workers lost their jobs when the mill where they worked was closed.
“They made as much money off of it as they could. And they closed it down,” says Joe Soptic, a steelworker for 30 years.
Jack Cobb, who also worked in the industry for three decades, says, “It was like a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us.”
Team Obama accuses Romney of loading the company with debt and reaping “quick profits for himself and his investors” at the expense of middle class workers.
“Romney’s business strategy wasn’t about strengthening companies and creating jobs for long-term economic growth. It wasn’t about investors and workers playing by the same set of rules, and it certainly wasn’t about creating an economy built to last by rewarding hard work and responsibility and strengthening the security of middle-class families,” the campaign said in a statement.
Romney left Bain in 1999 to manage the Salt Lake City Olympic Games, and his campaign says he bears no responsibility for layoffs that occurred after his tenure.
“The Obama campaign is going to do everything they can to distract voters from the fact that their policies are not working,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “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.”
Team Romney has taken credit for jobs created after he left Bain, however. They claimed during the primary fight that Bain was responsible for creating a net 100,000 jobs, citing current employment numbers at three big companies Bain invested in: Staples, Sports Authority, Domino’s Pizza.
Still, even Steven Rattner, a former Obama administration adviser on the auto bailout, criticized the ad, saying in a TV interview today that he thinks it’s “unfair.”
“I do think to pick out an example of somebody who lost their job, unfortunately, this is part of capitalism, this is part of life,” said Rattner. “And I don’t think there’s anything Bain Capital did that they need to be embarrassed about.”
The negative ad targeting Romney comes exactly one week after senior Obama strategist David Axelrod promising how the campaign was going to run positively on President Obama’s record, and had “spent more money offering people a positive vision” than attacking.
It also continues an approach by the Obama campaign to portray Romney as a figure so unacceptable to voters that they will support the president even if they don’t approve of him.
The latest Obama ad is the campaign’s seventh multi-state buy of the election cycle and the longest spot of any so far. It will run in Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Virginia.