Bain Back in Spotlight as Romney Releases Ads in Four Swing States

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  June 22, 2012 at 9:11 AM EST

Mitt Romney; photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally Tuesday in Holland, Mich. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

Attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital have faded over the last few weeks, as the presidential contest sharpened with a focus on the economy and as President Obama changed the conversation on immigration. Team Romney knew it wasn’t done litigating his work at the private equity firm decades ago, and Team Obama has plenty of Bain material on the shelf that voters are likely to see this summer and fall.

A new Washington Post investigation has provided Romney’s political enemies with fresh fodder, and it’s no surprise the president’s re-election team and aligned forces jumped on the story. They say it’s evidence the former Massachusetts governor would not be the strong steward of the economy he promises to be talking to voters in swing states.

The story details Bain-owned American companies “that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components,” and contrasts Romney’s rhetoric on the stump as he promises to end the practice of outsourcing.

Tom Hamburger examined Securities and Exchange Commission filings and found “the extent of Bain’s investment in firms that specialized in helping other companies move or expand operations overseas.” It ticks through several examples that spanned the time Romney was at the firm. He reported:

While Bain was not the largest player in the outsourcing field, the private equity firm was involved early on, at a time when the departure of jobs from the United States was beginning to accelerate and new companies were emerging as handmaidens to this outflow of employment.

Bain played several roles in helping these outsourcing companies, such as investing venture capital so they could grow and providing management and strategic business advice as they navigated this rapidly developing field.

Hamburger notes that the Romney campaign did not respond to repeated questions on the topic but added, “Campaign officials have said it is unfair to criticize Romney for investments made by Bain after he left the firm but did not address those made on his watch.”

From the piece:

In response to detailed questions about outsourcing investments, Bain spokesman Alex Stanton said, “Bain Capital’s business model has always been to build great companies and improve their operations. We have helped the 350 companies in which we have invested, which include over 100 start-up businesses, produce $80 billion of revenue growth in the United States while growing their revenues well over twice as fast as both the S&P and the U.S. economy over the last 28 years.”

Stories like this often shape a campaign narrative, and David Axelrod from the Obama campaign went after the presumptive GOP nominee soon after it went online. That was quickly followed by a series of statements from groups backing the president and tweets from partisan forces.

Romney surrogates have said his Bain record is on the table for examination, though Romney has used questions about his time there to turn the tables back on Mr. Obama to say the president has done a terrible job with the economy. Mr. Obama has said Bain is fair game on the trail, even when his own surrogates have gone off message.

“I know we’re going to get attacked from the left by Barack Obama on capitalism,” Romney said on a debate stage this winter.

The NewsHour has devoted time to analyze the Bain debate and to explore the role of private equity firms.

NOT ONE, NOT TWO, NOT THREE…

Team Romney released four customized television ads Friday that will go up in Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia, touting what the GOP hopeful would accomplish in his first 100 days in office.

In the Ohio spot, a narrator says Romney would stand up to China and demand “a level playing field,” plus repeal regulations “that are strangling our energy industry and costing us jobs.”

Click here or below for the Ohio ad:

For Iowa, the campaign says Romney would cut spending by repealing the health care reform law and “working toward a balanced budget.”

Click here or below for the Iowa ad:

To watch the North Carolina ad, click here.

For the Virginia spot, click here.

The ads all strike at familiar themes for Romney — the economy, energy and the deficit — but by fine-tuning the messages for each state the campaign is hoping they pack an extra punch. Three of the four ads mention health care, but the Ohio spot does not.

HEY, BIG SPENDER!

Ken Vogel of Politico and Matea Gold of the Los Angeles Times sat down with Jeffrey Brown on Thursday night to discuss the state of the fundraising race between the two presidential campaigns.

NewsHour politics production assistant Alex Bruns reports that the campaigns’ detailed fundraising and expenditures were due Wednesday night and the new FEC reports offered some interesting details.

“I was most surprised…by Mitt Romney’s ability to bank on this vast network of big donors that he spent years cultivating,” Vogel said.

Those big donors combined to contribute more than $5 million to a pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future. Meanwhile, the pro-Obama Priorities USA super PAC had its best month to date with a haul of $4 million in May.

“I think what came into sharp relief last night was how much money Obama is spending. He burned through more than $44 million last month,” Gold said on the NewsHour. “That was three times as much as he did the previous month. And that was largely to respond to these outside groups that have been flooding the airwaves with ads attacking him and trying to frame his record.”

Regarding the combined efforts of the Obama campaign and Priorities USA, Vogel told the Morning Line: “[T]his is also reflective of how Obama and his allies are trying to play this big donor game, they have this schizophrenic approach to their fundraising. On one hand you have the small donors and the many voices, and on the other hand they need to raise money and they have had trouble keeping up with the Romney super PAC and the Rove Crossroads groups.”

Watch the segment here or below.

LATEST FROM SCOTUS

What do buttocks, George Carlin and Nicole Richie have in common? Marcia Coyle explained on the NewsHour after the Supreme Court issued three major decisions Thursday, but not the big two we’re all waiting for.

Watch the segment here or below.

IMMIGRATION, CONT.

President Obama will have an opportunity Friday to lay out his differences with Romney on immigration policy when he addresses the same group of Latino officials that heard from the Republican contender on Thursday.

Romney again refused to say whether he would revoke the policy announced by the president last Friday that shields some undocumented immigrants from deportation, but he criticized Mr. Obama’s approach.

“As president, I won’t settle for stopgap measures. I will work with Republicans and Democrats to build a long-term solution,” Romney told the crowd.

The Obama campaign released a web video Friday cutting together Romney’s statements on the new policy and news clips to blast the likely GOP nominee for not saying whether he would reverse the president’s decision.

Polls show popular support for the president’s move, so he could very well use Friday’s opportunity to highlight the action taken by his administration — and respond directly to Thursday’s remarks from his Republican rival.

Be sure to check back with us online after the president’s remarks are finished for reaction from NewsHour Politics reporter-producer Tiffany Mullon (@tiffanymullon) who is in Orlando covering the NALEO conference. On Thursday, Tiffany reported on the mood in the room and Romney’s political message to the crowd:

Romney sought to head off the president’s message to Latino voters, who went largely for Mr. Obama in 2008, saying he is “taking your vote for granted.”

“President Obama will … imply that you really don’t have an alternative,” Romney warned. “I’ve come here today with a simple message: You do have an alternative. Your vote should be respected. And your voice is more important now than ever before.”

Don’t miss online politics production assistant Meena Ganesan’s report on Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s advice to the GOP on immigration.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • A Latino Decisions poll released Friday found the president with an overwhelming lead over Romney among Latino registered voters in five battleground states — Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia.

  • A new Pew Research Center poll found the president leading Romney, 50 percent to 46 percent.

  • Politico writes up a poll showing Americans trust Mr. Obama over Romney on social issues, 52 percent to 36 percent.

  • Vice President Joe Biden is headed to Iowa, the Des Moines Register reports.

  • The NewsHour’s plans for gavel-to-gavel coverage of the party conventions in Tampa and Charlotte are taking shape.

  • Gwen Ifill writes in her weekly column about one Ohio man who took on the nation’s divisive politics.

  • Christina will join Politico’s Jonathan Martin, Fox News’ Juan Williams, National Journal’s Jill Lawrence and former Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., for a 2012 election panel hosted by Larry Sabato in Richmond on Friday afternoon. Details are here.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • The Daily Caller keeps up its coverage of Democrats skipping the party convention in Charlotte. This round finds Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah staying home this summer.

  • Republican Senate nominee Richard Mourdock, who defeated Sen. Richard Lugar in Indiana this spring, is so ready for the health care decision from the Supreme Court that he released four different video responses by accident. Oops!

  • Eric Holder is just the latest in a long list of embattled attorneys general. Since the Clinton administration, the head of the Justice Department has been a partisan lightning rod.

  • The Senate passed a new farm bill Thursday with bipartisan support. The bill now heads to the House, where it will have to be acted upon before Sept. 30, which is when the current program expires.

  • Think gaffes and verbal missteps matter to voters? Political scientist John Sides says, “think again.”

  • Charlie Cook thinks we should temper our expectations of a major swing in the House this fall, predicting we may see “minimal net change” for either party.

  • But Democrats cheered another new poll showing they lead Republicans in a generic congressional ballot, 47 percent to 43 percent.

  • Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., launched a new Internet meme by telling a Boston radio station he spends his days “in secret meetings and with kings and queens.” The blowback was…well, harsh.

  • The Boston Globe looks at the fundraising prowess of Brown’s rival, Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

  • Moody’s cut the credit ratings of 15 of the world’s biggest banks Thursday.

  • In a fundraising email, the Ohio Democratic Party called a group of 20-plus volunteers and field staff who are working to get-out-the-vote for Sen. Sherrod Brown and other members of the party in Appalachia “Team Scrappy.”

  • The Senate passed a measure stripping millions of federal dollars earmarked to each party’s conventions.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama travels to Florida, where he delivers remarks at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials’ Annual Conference in Orlando at 1:40 p.m. and holds a campaign event in Tampa at 4:15 p.m.

  • Vice President Biden has no public events scheduled.

  • Mitt Romney meets with donors in Park City, Utah.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:


For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.