In 1994, Mitt Romney ran a surprisingly competitive Senate race against Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts. Kennedy fought back with an ad campaign targeting Romney’s business record at Bain, painting the Republican as a heartless plutocrat who ruthlessly broke up companies and laid off workers. The ads helped Kennedy claw his way back from an 8-point deficit to a 17-point reelection.
Bain was brought up in the Republican primaries, with mixed results at best. But that was a Republican primary where criticisms of business struggle to gain traction. The Obama campaign team is eager to try this line of attack again in the general election. There are some complicating factors, however.
The first is that Romney will hit back using the federally supervised layoffs that resulted from the Obama administration’s auto dealer closures. As Ed Morrisey points out at HotAir, the Obama czar who ran this is reluctant to join the Bain attacks. Here’s Steve Rattner on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
I think the ad is unfair. Mitt Romney made a mistake ever talking about the fact that he created 100,000 jobs. Bain Capital’s responsibility was not to create 100,000 jobs or some other number. It was to create profits for his investors, most of whom were pension funds, endowments and foundations. It did it superbly, acting within the rules and acting very responsibly and was a leading firm.
So 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. And I don’t think there’s anything Bain Capital did that they need to be embarrassed about.
Then there are Obama’s own Bain connections. Robert Costa connects the dots:
[Jonathan] Lavine, according to the Los Angeles Times, is a top Obama bundler and a managing director at Bain Capital. Lavine, who has raised over $100,000 for the president, was at the firm when GST Steel declared bankruptcy. So according to the Obama team’s logic, Romney, who had left Bain, is responsible for GST Steel’s demise, but Lavine, who was there, is not? Expect to hear more about this connection.
Questions about Lavine won’t go away.