Obama: Romney’s Bain Record ‘Worth Examining’

BY Terence Burlij  May 21, 2012 at 6:59 PM EST

President Barack Obama holds a press conference at the NATO Summit in Chicago on May 21. Photo by Mandel Nagan/AFP

President Obama called Mitt Romney’s business experience at Bain Capital fair game Monday during a press conference at the conclusion of the NATO summit in Chicago.

“If the main basis for him suggesting he can do a better job is his track record as the head of a private equity firm, then both the upsides and the downsides are worth examining,” Mr. Obama said.

The president’s comments came a day after a top supporter, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, said the Obama campaign’s attacks on Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital were “nauseating.”

“If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses. And this, to me, I’m very uncomfortable with,” Booker said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Booker’s remarks stemmed from the release of a television ad by the Obama campaign last week that featured former workers of a Kansas City steel plant, GST, who blamed Romney for the business going under.

“To get up on national TV and brag about making jobs when he has destroyed thousands of people’s careers, lifetimes, just destroying people,” said Jack Cobb, one of the workers in the video.

The Romney campaign released a new web video Monday highlighting the comments from Booker and other Obama supporters who have questioned the Bain attack, including former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford and former “car czar” Steven Rattner.

The criticism from Democrats became Internet political fodder, but the president hinted Monday that he would not back off the Bain line of attack.

“Gov. Romney, his main calling card for why he thinks he should be president is his business experience. He’s not going out there touting his experience in Massachusetts. He’s saying, ‘I’m a business guy. I know how to fix it.’ And this is his business,” Mr. Obama said. “And when you’re president, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, then your job is simply not to maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot.”

“If your main argument for how to grow the economy is ‘I knew how to make a lot of money for investors,’ then you’re missing what this job is about,” the president added.

We’ll post video of the president’s remarks in this space soon.