Photo: Bain Capital/Boston Globe
Today, the Obama campaign woke up giddily to an unexpected new source of attack against Mitt Romney’s record at private equity firm Bain Capital: this Washington Post story from Tom Hamburger. It details how Bain invested in companies that “relocated” jobs done by American workers to facilities in China, India and other countries. The Obama campaign has tried to hammer home the Bain Capital message for weeks — with little success. With the new revelations from the Post, it will be a hard message for the Romney campaign to debunk — especially with a candidate who regularly trumpets his ability to create American jobs. From the report:
During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centres and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Senior adviser David Axelrod held a conference call this morning on “Mitt Romney’s record of outsourcing,” already hitting Romney on the fresh new meat from the Post story.
“The question is,” Axelrod said on the conference call, “Do they want an outsourcer-in-chief in the Oval Office?
Why could this be a big deal? For one, the Romney campaign released a new video this morning that will air in swing-state Ohio. Part of the script has Romney saying that he will “stand up to China” and “demand a level playing field for our businesses and workers.”
But Hamburger notes Bain’s lengthy record with companies that have shipped jobs overseas — Corporate Software Inc., GT Bicycle Inc., Modus Media, SMTC Corp. and Hyundai Electronics Industry, to name a few. So, one of the first things Axelrod did on the conference call today was hit Romney on the “breathtaking hypocrisy” of that ad.
“It’s particularly egregious coming on a day when Gov. Romney began running an ad in Ohio promising to stand up to China, demanding a level playing field for our businesses and workers, when it turns out his companies were actually involved in shipping jobs to China and India,” Axelrod said on the conference call.
The second reason: outsourcing resonates with voters. There’s been little recent polling on the subject, but a 2006 Pew Research poll found these important numbers: “77 per cent felt that increased outsourcing has hurt American workers while 31 per cent thought their own job could be done by someone outside the country.”
The Romney campaign’s defence, so far, has been to try to explain why it thinks “outsourcing” is the wrong word choice, according to Politico.
Axelrod’s response? Good luck explaining the difference between “outsourcing” and “offshoring” to a voter in Ohio. Or anywhere.
“The Washington Post gave them repeated opportunities to respond in detail to the questions that were raised, and they chose not to comment,” Axelrod said. “They may have been trying to figure out his position on the immigration question, which has taken several days as well.”
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