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New Obama super-PAC ad: Romney ‘drowned’ companies in debt

The ad, from Priorities USA, looks to highlight a report this weekend in The New York Times that Bain Capital often made millions during Romney's tenure, even when companies the firm had invested in and taken over went bankrupt.

"Romney bought companies, drowned them in debt," a narrator says as images of Romney are projected into a suitcase. "Many went bankrupt. Thousands of workers lost jobs, benefits and pensions. But for every company he drove into the ground, Romney averaged a $92 million profit. Now he says his business experience would make him a good president?"

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The ad will air in Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia and is part of a $10 million ad buy already announced by the outside group.

Democrats believe that challenging Romney's business record could pay dividends, especially with the Republican candidate focusing intently on the economy.

“In business, Mitt Romney rigged the system so he won — even when workers, creditors and investors lost. Even when companies endured layoffs or even bankruptcy, even when workers lost promised health and retirement benefits, Romney found a way for he and his partners to make millions,” said Paul Begala, senior adviser for Priorities USA Action. “Romney’s same approach to the presidency will devastate the middle class, while pursuing policies that benefit himself and the wealthiest Americans."

The Romney team has begun to battle back against Democratic attacks on his tenure at Bain, meeting with The Washington Post on Wednesday to ask for a retraction of a controversial article that found the company invested in firms that specialized in outsourcing American jobs. 

The Romney campaign has claimed the examples cited in the Post story unfairly imply that foreign call centers were opened to avoid paying American workers when, in fact, the foreign call centers were built to service foreign customers, who did not speak English and were buying American products.

The Post ultimately opted against retracting the article, and the Romney team unloaded with a 10-page line-by-line takedown of the article distributed to reporters.

“This is a fundamentally flawed story that does not differentiate between domestic outsourcing versus offshoring nor versus work done overseas to support U.S. exports," said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul in a statement. "Mitt Romney spent 25 years in the real world economy, so he understands why jobs come and they go. As president, he will implement policies that make it easier and more attractive for companies to create jobs here at home. President Obama's attacks on profit and job creators make it less attractive to create jobs in the U.S.”

And Bain Capital issued a statement of its own Friday disputing the ad.

"Bain Capital is devoted to growing great companies and improving their operations, and our portfolio companies have an extraordinary record of success. Over our 28 year history we have made 350 investments, and despite investing in many troubled and start-up businesses, fewer than 5% of the companies filed for bankruptcy while under our control. Our management teams and 900 employees worldwide remain focused on building businesses, despite the hyperbole and distortion that unfortunately accompany political campaigns," the company said in a statement.

But the Obama campaign and allies like Priorities USA have only intensified their efforts to hit Romney over Bain. The president mocked the Romney team for attempting to draw a distinction during a campaign stop Tuesday in Atlanta.

"There was an article the other day in The Washington Post about how Mr. Romney's former firm — this is what gave him all this amazing success — was a 'pioneer' in offshoring jobs to China and India. And when they were asked about it, some of his advisers explained, no, there's a difference between offshoring and outsourcing," Obama said. "I'm not kidding, that's what they said. Those workers who lost their jobs, they didn't understand the difference."

Bill Burton, the former White House aide who heads Priorities USA, pointed to recent polling that indicated the attacks are gaining traction. In a survey released Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal and NBC News, Romney's approval has dipped 10 percentage points in swing states where the Obama campaign has released ads hammering his Bain record. In Quinnipiac polls of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Romney saw double-digit dips among independents asked who would do a better job handling the economy.

"When the American people find out what exactly Mitt Romney's business experience was, it gives them great pause," Burton told CNN on Thursday.


This post was updated at 10:45 a.m. on June 29, 2012.