President Barack Obama’s campaign took aim at Republican Mitt Romney’s private equity experience on the same day the president is raising money at the New York apartment of Blackstone Group LP President Tony James.
A television advertisement scheduled to run in five swing states features interviews with former workers at a Kansas City, Missouri, steel mill that was taken over in 1993 by Boston-based Bain Capital LLC, the private equity firm co-founded by Romney.
“Bain Capital was the majority owner. They were responsible,” said David Foster, who is identified in the ad as the lead negotiator for workers at GST Steel, which filed for bankruptcy in 2001.
With the economy as the dominant issue in the presidential election, Obama’s campaign is seeking to turn Romney’s business background against him as Republicans assail Obama for the sluggish recovery from the recession. The ad also is being released amid renewed scrutiny of the financial industry following JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s disclosure of a $2 billion trading loss.
Romney’s campaign spokeswoman said the former Massachusetts governor would welcome a debate about the economy.
“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,” Andrea Saul said in an e-mail. “If the Obama administration was less concerned about pleasing their wealthy donors and more concerned about creating jobs, America would be much better off.”
Swing State Run
The advertisement will run in Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Colorado, said campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt, who declined to say how much airtime the campaign reserved for the spot.
“Mitt Romney has asked Americans to elect him based on his tenure as a corporate buyout specialist where he promoted outsourcing and profited off of bankrupting companies,” LaBolt said.
Romney also has criticized the Dodd-Frank law, which was intended to strengthen financial regulations. He’s called it one of the laws backed by Obama that have increased the burden on businesses, costing jobs.
White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters traveling with the president today that the JPMorgan loss on synthetic credit securities demonstrates the need for regulations put in place after the 2008 financial crisis to make sure taxpayers “don’t get left holding the bag.”
“It is amazing that there are still those who are out there arguing we should repeal Wall Street reform, that we should let Wall Street write their own rules again,” Carney said.
Obama is in New York today to deliver the commencement address at Barnard College and attend two campaign fundraisers, including one at the New York apartment of James.
The criticism in Obama’s campaign ad mirrors attacks leveled at Romney during the Republican primaries. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Governor Rick Perry, who have since endorsed Romney, previously called the Republican front- runner a corporate raider who stripped businesses, loaded them with debt and fired their workers for profit.
At the time, James said such attacks may slow buyouts.
“Pension funds have boards, they don’t want to be giving money to an industry that has a taint,” James, 61, said Feb. 7 in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s ‘InsideTrack’ with Erik Schatzker. “Similarly, boards of directors don’t want to sell their company to organizations they don’t view as respectable. So it could be very damaging for the industry.”
Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and co-founder of Blackstone, the world’s largest private equity firm, endorsed Romney last year and held a fundraiser for the candidate at his Park Avenue apartment on Dec. 14.
Obama also is attending an event hosted by pop singer Ricky Martin, marking the first gay rights fundraiser since he announced last week that he supports same-sex marriage.
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