The New York Times
Propelled by a torrent of blistering television advertisements, President Obama is successfully invoking Mitt Romney’s career at Bain Capital to raise questions about his commitment to the middle class, strategists in both parties say, as the candidates engage in a critical summer duel to set the terms for this fall.
Despite doubts among some Democrats about the wisdom of attacking Mr. Romney’s business career, Obama commercials painting him as a ruthless executive who pursued profits at the expense of jobs are starting to make an impact on some undecided voters, according to strategists from both sides, who differ on whether they are causing any substantial damage.
Obama accuses Romney in a series of TV ads of being a “corporate raider” who “shipped jobs to China and Mexico,” asking if voters want to elect an “outsourcer in chief.” But some of the claims in the ads are untrue, and others are thinly supported.
Bain Capital, the venture capital firm founded by Romney in 1984, is the focus of the Obama campaign’s attacks. There is no question that Bain invested in some companies that helped other companies outsource work and that some of that work went overseas. That was the core business for Modus Media and SMTC Corp. — two outsource companies featured in a June 21 article in the Washington Post that has been the basis of recent Obama TV ads. Bain also invested in U.S.-based companies that sold goods manufactured here and abroad, and some of those companies closed U.S. facilities and eliminated U.S. jobs.
But after reviewing numerous corporate filings with the Securities and Exchange
Commission, contemporary news accounts, company histories and press releases, and the
evidence offered by both the Obama and Romney campaigns, we found no evidence to support the claim that Romney — while he was still running Bain Capital — shipped American jobs overseas.
- One TV ad, called “Come and Go,” claims that Romney “shipped jobs to China and Mexico.” But two examples cited by the Obama campaign occurred after Romney left Bain. There’s no clear evidence that a third company shipped jobs to China under Romney.
- A second ad called “Revealed” mocks Romney’s tough talk about cracking down on China’s trade practices by saying “all he’s ever done is send them our jobs” and citing the Washington Post article. But the newspaper article contained no examples of U.S. jobs being shipped to China while Romney was working at Bain.
- The “Come and Go” ad casts Romney as a “corporate raider,” but that term, loaded with negative connotations, is simply inaccurate. Bain didn’t engage in hostile takeovers when Romney was at the helm.
- That ad also repeats the claim that as governor of Massachusetts, Romney was “outsourcing state jobs to India.” But it wasn’t the state that outsourced contracts. Rather, Romney vetoed a measure that would have prevented the state from doing business with a state contractor that was locating state customer-service calls in India.