Eric Fehrnstrom, the senior campaign adviser to the Mitt Romney presidential campaign, credited the former Massachusetts governor with creating “well in excess of 100,000” jobs as an executive at Bain Capital, and an additional “30,000 to 40,000” in his time as governor of Massachusetts.
“With respect to Mitt Romney’s period of time as the governor of Massachusetts — in that four years as governor he created between 30k and 40k jobs,” Fehrnstrom told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC on Monday. “That is more than President Obama has created for the entire nation. And at Bain Capital, of course the mission was to create value, that’s how the free enterprise system works, but when you create value, when you add value as they did in trying to improve companies, you also add employment, and a rough back-of-the-envelope estimate of how many jobs they created is well in excess of 100,000.”
Romney made a similar claim early in the Republican primary season, but seemed to walk the number down after it was challenged by his GOP presidential rivals. At later points during the cycle, Romney has said he created “tens of thousands” or “thousands” of jobs.
The Romney campaign has not detailed the method it's using to come to these estimates, but critics say Romney is taking credit for jobs created after his tenure, not subtracting out jobs that were eliminated after his tenure, or taking credit for business deals that he had little to do with.
Both campaigns are furiously scrambling to frame Romney’s tenure as an executive at the private-equity firm.
The Obama campaign has released ads about companies that went bankrupt after being purchased by Bain that focus on employees who say they lost their jobs because of the buyout.
Some, including Obama surrogate and Democratic mayor of Newark, N.J., Cory Booker, have decried the criticism of Romney’s tenure at Bain as an attack on free enterprise.
In a conference call on Monday, the Obama campaign pushed back at the notion it was attacking private equity, saying that, like Romney’s former GOP presidential rivals who criticized Bain for “vulture capitalism,” it was attacking the way Bain conducted its business.
Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC that the line of attack was fair game.
“Gov. Romney offers his business experience as his ... principle and chief credential for running for office,” Axelrod said. “He never talks about his years as Massachusetts governor, and I think for good reason, because they weren’t stellar years. This is his argument — ‘I was a businessman, I can lead the economy.’ So it behooves us to ask exactly, 'what did you do?' And some of these cases were disturbing and they deserve to be looked at.”
“[President Obama] promised that if he didn’t get this economy turned around in three and a half years he’d be a one-term president,” Fehrnstrom responded. “Mitt Romney is here to collect.”