Obama campaign releases biting new TV ad
Obama is trying to convince voters to stick with him as he heralds an economic rebound, as sluggish as it is.
Romney counters that Obama has had enough time, and only he - with his deep background in business - knows how to jumpstart the nation's job market.
Obama, hosting his first campaign rally earlier this month in Columbus, Ohio, gave a preview of the new line of attack, saying Romney had "drawn the wrong lessons" from his business experience at the helm of Bain.
"He doesn't seem to understand that maximizing profits by whatever means necessary - whether through layoffs or outsourcing or tax avoidance or union-busting - might not always be good for the average American or for the American economy," Obama said then.
Romney, a multimillionaire, left Bain in 1999 to run the Salt Lake City Olympic Games but maintained a financial interest in the company after departing.
He has said that his firm had a strong overall track record, creating jobs in prominent companies like Staples and Sports Authority, while acknowledging that some companies Bain invested in were unsuccessful. Obama's new ad, which reprises criticism leveled at Romney during the Republican primaries, focuses on one of those unsuccessful companies, GST Steel.
Bain was the majority shareholder in GST Steel beginning in 1993. The company eventually filed for bankruptcy in 2001, a period in which the U.S. steel industry was roiled by a flood of cheap steel imports. About 750 workers lost their jobs, and were left without any health benefits and reduced pensions.
The federal government was forced to infuse $44 million into the company's underfunded pension plan. Bain received $12 million on its $8 million initial investment and at least $4.5 million in consulting fees, according to a January report by Reuters.
The commercial shows interviews with former workers at the Kansas City plant who said Bain's role led to job losses and slashed benefits.
It intersperses their claims with clips of Romney promoting his business background and empathizing with the jobless during campaign events.
There also are images of a closed factory, run-down buildings and a road sign that says "Dead End."
"Bain Capital walked away with a lot of money that they made off this plant. We view Mitt Romney as a job destroyer," said steel worker John Wiseman.
David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Obama's campaign, said Romney wants to "create the illusion that somehow his experience equips him to lead the economy but there's nothing about the record that would support that."
"His central premise is that he's an economic wizard who can really get this economy moving and if that's the only claim he is making for this office, that's a premise worth examining," Axelrod said.
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