While Democrats assail presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's Bain Capital business practices, Republicans note that President Obama has not been bashful about accepting cash from Bain executives or other high-profile figures in the corporate buyout business.
"President Obama has based his entire reelection campaign on a vicious, dishonest assault on Mitt Romney's business career. The real question for President Obama is this: if Bain Capital is so bad, why have you taken nearly $120,000 in donations from them?" said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. "President Obama's actions are the height of hypocrisy."
Obama and his re-election campaign have been hammering Romney for reaping huge profits at the helm of Bain, while companies in which the firm invested went bankrupt, laid off workers or outsourced jobs overseas.
"Romney and his partners put payments to themselves and their partners first, before anything else," David Foster, a former union leader at Bain-owned GST Steel, which later went bankrupt, told reporters on a conference call.
"I was the one who had to tell [the laid off workers] that Bain had broken its promises, underfunded their pensions and that they were on their own," he said, noting that Bain had devastated families and real lives.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks Federal Election Commission data, Obama has collected $118,121 from donors who list Bain as their employer between June 2004 and May 2012. The period covers Obama's bid for the Senate and his presidential campaigns.
One of Obama's top campaign financiers - Jonathan Lavine - is also managing director at Bain, bundling between $100,000 and $200,000 in contributions for the 2012 Obama Victory Fund, according to estimates released by the Obama campaign. The president has also relied on other leading figures in the private equity sector as hosts for high-dollar fundraisers and as members of his Jobs Council.
Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt denied there was a double standard, saying the attacks on Romney are not about Bain Capital or private equity but about the candidate's business record.
"Mitt Romney is the only person campaigning for president who says that during his tenure as a corporate buyout specialist his goal was job creation and that we should evaluate his qualifications for the presidency based on that record," LaBolt told reporters on a conference call.
"As the president has made clear when he's discussed this, the job of the President of the United States is to worry about the workers and the livelihoods of middle-class families just as much as it is to worry about profit creation," he said.