By Justin Sink
As with Solyndra — where Obama appeared in 2010 to tour the factory and heralded the company as a symbol of the success of stimulus programs — Romney visited Konarka to tout the loans in a 2003 press conference at the company's headquarters.
Romney's campaign responded by charging the president with attempting to distract from a soft economy and lagging jobs numbers.
“President Obama has a lot of questions to answer about why he used taxpayer dollars to reward wealthy campaign donors for bad ideas like Solyndra, yet he is unwilling to focus on creating jobs for the millions of Americans who are struggling. His distortions and distractions will not put a single American back to work," said Romney spokesman Ryan Williams in a statement.
The campaign also noted that unlike Solyndra's ties to the president, nobody from Konarka had given to the Romney campaign and the company had paid back the loan distributed during Romney's tenure. Williams also noted that the decision to loan Konarka money was made before Romney became governor, and that Democratic governor and Obama surrogate Deval Patrick had approved a similar loan to the company in 2009.
Still, the incident could be problematic for Romney, who has argued repeatedly on the campaign trail against that the president was "picking winners and losers" in subsidizing green-energy industries.
“That is not the nature of how America works. I’m afraid the reason that the stimulus has been unsuccessful, that the turnaround has taken so long to occur, and the recovery’s been so tepid, is that the president fails to understand the basic nature of free enterprise in America," Romney said outside Solyndra on Thursday.