Pro-Obama super PAC brings back Bain
Priorities USA, a super PAC supporting the president's re-election campaign is bringing Bain Capital, Mitt Romney's former private equity firm, back into the spotlight this week with a new ad.
The 30-second spot, "Donnie," was released Sunday and features an interview with a former worker of GST Steel, a Kansas City company that went bankrupt and closed in 2001, eight years after it was purchased by Bain.
Romney left Bain in 1999, but has continued to benefit through GST Steel. His campaign has noted that Romney's finances are held in and managed by a blind trust.
In the ad, the ex-worker, Donnie Box, lambasted Bain by saying the company shut down "entire livelihoods" and claims the company reneged on its promise to provide health care packages and retirement programs.
"This was a booming place, and Mitt Romney and Bain Capital turned it into a junkyard. Just making money and leaving," Box says in the ad. "They don't live in this neighborhood. They don't live in this part of the world."
As the ad closes, text on the screen reads: "If Mitt Romney wins, the middle class loses."
The video reflects tones from similar Priorities ads released last month that also featured former workers of shuttered plants bought by Bain.
Priorities' senior strategist Bill Burton told CNN the new commercial is part of an ongoing $7 million ad buy and will air in five battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia.
The commercial comes a couple of weeks after the Obama campaign largely turned away from its Bain offense, which went on for much of the month of May, to instead focus on Romney's record as former Massachusetts governor.
"For voters across the country, profiting from failure and breaking promises to employees illustrates that Romney would not stand up for the middle class as president," Burton wrote in a memo Saturday. In his note, Burton pointed to results from two recent focus groups that show the Bain attacks may be having an impact, in favor of the president, on certain key voting blocs.
The focus groups consisted of so-called Wal-Mart moms in the battleground states of Nevada and Virginia. All the women identified themselves as independents or as undecided, and the Nevada group included only Latino women.
CNN contributor and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona, who watched the focus groups take place, wrote that the women gave Romney credit for being a businessman and a family man, but expressed concern after watching attack ads against him and his corporate career from groups like Priorities and the president's re-election campaign.
"When asked to use one word or phrase to describe Romney, the words or phrases they used included 'Don't know that much about him,' 'selfish,' 'businessman who is concerned with making himself some money,' 'concerned about the wealthy,' 'can't be trusted,' 'scares me,' and 'lackluster' - again, echoing some of what is being said in the Bain ads around the country," Cardona wrote in an op-ed.
The debate over the fairness of the Bain attacks took center stage last month, as some notable Democrats disagreed with their own party on the idea of using Romney's career as a knock against him. President Barack Obama even weighed in, firmly deciding that because Romney uses his business background to court votes, then the attacks were fair game.
Romney's team, however, has consistently defended the candidate's time at Bain, arguing that the president was taking aim the free enterprise system. His campaign, as well as Bain itself, highlights the fact that a strong majority of the businesses purchased by the firm went on to become successful, though some did not fare well.
During a tele-townhall last week, the candidate hit back against the Democratic-led notion that Romney was simply in the businesses of making profits, not hiring people, and therefore should not use his Bain record as a credential for creating jobs.
"It's like well, I have to tell you, that's sort of what business is about. The free enterprise system is about people taking a risk to earn a return, to earn a profit and if they do, they're able to hire more people," Romney said. "Profits and people go together if you're talking about creating new jobs."
As Priorities has stepped up its ad effort in the last month, the group is also trying to ramp up its fund-raising. Senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod is meeting with potential donors to Priorities on Monday to help it beef up its coffers.