Newt Gingrich tried to bestow a bit of his vast knowledge regarding what doesn’t work in a campaign on the Obama camp during an appearance on CNN’s Piers Morgan Monday.
In discussing President Obama’s attacks on Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, Gingrich said,
“We found out when we got in a fight with Mitt Romney over this that it didn’t work.”
I think Governor Perry will tell you that when he tried to use it, it didn’t work. When I went head to head with Mitt over it, it didn’t work. And I’m a little surprised that Obama is trying it.
But Gingrich is comparing apples to oranges; going after Romney for his work at Bain Capital as a fellow GOP candidate, and Obama doing it in a general election are two different things.
In the Republican primaries, Gingrich was essentially going after his own; Republicans are profit-no-matter-the-human-toll kind of people, so when Gingrich said,
“I would just say that if Governor Romney would like to give back all of the money he’s earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain, then I would be glad to listen to him.”
he struck a party nerve. His attacks flew in the face of Republicans’ endless claims that the wealthy are America’s “job creators”.
Gingrich wasn’t the only GOP hopeful to call Romney out over Bain Capital in the primaries. Rick Perry did it:
“… Mitt Romney and Bain Capital were involved with what I call vulture capitalism.”
(Ironically, Texas teachers’ retirement system – one of the largest public pensions in Texas – is an investor in Bain Capital.)
Rick Santorum did it:
“I heard Governor Romney here called me an economic lightweight because I wasn’t a Wall Street financier like he was. Do you really believe this country wants to elect a Wall Street financier as the president of the United States?
Do you think that’s the experience that we need? Someone who’s going to take and look after as he did his friends on Wall Street and bail them out at the expense of Main Street America.”
And Santorum senior adviser John Brabender said in an interview on MSNBC in March:
“When Mitt Romney was at Bain Capital, almost one out of every four companies that they were involved in either went bankrupt or out of business.”
(John Huntsman didn’t push the Bain Capital envelope because his father’s company, the Huntsman Corporation, had a $600 million investment deal with Bain in 2001.)
The President has every right to hold Romney’s accountable for his claims of “job creation”. As USA Action points out:
“Even Republicans know Mitt Romney has not explained how his experience profiting from companies driven to bankruptcy qualifies him to be President. If Romney makes business experience the central reason for his campaign, voters have every right to question the many deals where Romney made millions while workers lost their jobs and promised benefits.”
During his campaign, Romney has stated:
“We were able to help create over 100,000 jobs. On the president’s watch, about 100,000 jobs were lost in the auto industry and auto dealers and auto manufacturers, so he’s hardly one to point a finger.”
Regarding the Obama campaigns attacks on layoffs resulting from Bain investments he claims:
“The most recent attacks are really off target and I think they know,” Romney said. “They said, ‘Oh, gosh, Governor Romney at Bain Capital closed down a steel factory.’ But their problem, of course, is that the steel factory closed down two years after I left Bain Capital. I was no longer there, so that’s hardly something which is on my watch.”
But as the Washington Post points out:
“The logic there escapes us. Romney appears to be saying it is okay to count jobs created after he left Bain, but it’s not okay to count jobs lost after he left Bain.”
As for Romney’s claim of jobs lost in the auto industry, the fact is:
“In January 2009, 690,700 people were employed, a figure that dipped to 624,400 in June 2009, but then rose to 763,800 by April 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”
That’s a gain of over 70,000 jobs.
In an uncharacteristically objective editorial for the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol writes:
“Mitt Romney’s claim throughout his campaign that his private sector experience almost uniquely qualifies him to be president is also silly. Does he really think that having done well in private equity, venture capital, and business consulting—or even in the private sector more broadly—is a self-evident qualification for public office?
Past business success does not guarantee performance in public office. Indeed, Romney sometimes seems to go so far as to suggest that succeeding in the private sector is intrinsically more admirable than, e.g., serving as a teacher or a soldier or even in Congress. This is not a sensible proposition, or a defensible one.”
If Romney claims his business experience is qualification enough to be President (and really, what else has he got- his Governorship was a failure) then Obama and the rest of America are certainly entitled to take a hard look at the type of businessman he is.