By Justin Sink - 05/14/12 11:35 AM EDT
President Obama is taking dead aim at Mitt Romney's record helming Bain Capital, debuting a new television ad, online video and website that each depict the private equity firm as predatory and having engaged in "questionable business practices.
"The campaign is releasing a six-minute video featuring the story of GST Steel, which was purchased by Bain Capital and subsequently shuttered after more than 100 years of business. After purchasing the company, Mitt Romney and his partners loaded it with debt, closed the Kansas City plant and walked away with a healthy profit, leaving hundreds of employees out of work with their pensions in jeopardy," the campaign said in a statement.
In the commercial, former GST employees blast Romney as a "job destroyer" who looked to pad his own pockets by liquefying the steel company.
“It was like a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us," said Joe Cobb, one of the steelworkers featured in the ad.
The Obama campaign is planning a series of corresponding events in swing states where high-profile surrogates — including Vice President Biden — are expected to criticize the presumptive Republican nominee's business record. In addition, the campaign is hosting a conference call with reporters with former employees of the steel company Monday morning.
The president's reelection team hopes that the targeted push will help undermine Romney's standing on economic issues, which polls show to be the area where he has a decided advantage over the president going into November.
The Romney campaign issued a response Monday morning arguing that while the presumptive Republican candidate was responsible for purchasing the steel company, he had left to run the Salt Lake City Olympics at the time described in the Obama ad. Campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul contended that Team Romney was happy to return to a discussion of the economy.
“We welcome the Obama campaign’s attempt to pivot back to jobs and a discussion of their failed record. Mitt Romney helped create more jobs in his private sector experience and more jobs as Governor of Massachusetts than President Obama has for the entire nation," said Saul.
During the Republican primary, challenger Newt Gingrich also hammered Romney on his time in the private sector. A super-PAC supporting Gingrich's efforts released a half-hour long commercial titled "When Mitt Romney Came to Town" that offered a wholesale indictment of Bain Capital and Romney's work there.
But that effort drew widespread scorn from leaders on the right, who argued Gingrich's attacks were out of line and anti-capitalist. Questioned about his record while stumping in South Carolina, Romney maintained his record was one of overall success and job creation.
“There are a number of businesses that we helped start, which collectively, you can just look on their Web sites, added well over 100,000 jobs,” Romney said. “And then the press has also reported on businesses that lost employment and that was a few thousand jobs that were lost. In each case where there was job loss, there was an effort on the part of the management team to try and preserve the business and to have a brighter future.”