The Washington Times - May 15, 2012, 06:12PM

The Obama campaign and the White House labored to explain the logic behind the president’s decision to hold a fundraiser at the home of a hedge fund president the same day the re-election team released an advertisement bashing Mitt Romney for his tenure at Bain Capital.

On Tuesday reporters peppered Obama spokespeople with questions about the timing of the release of Bain ad the same day the president was raising money at the 5th Ave. apartment of Blackstone Group President Tony James.

“I don’t understand which [equity firms] you’re criticizing and which ones you’re not, because it seems like the ones you’re criticizing are the ones that belong to people supporting Mitt Romney or affiliated with Mitt Romney, but the same exact types of organizations … if they support President Obama, then they’re totally kosher,” ABC News’ Jake Tapper asked White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Mr. Carney didn’t have an easy answer.

“The issue is not whether businesses acting lawfully should maximize profits or pursue business appropriately,” Mr. Carney said. “The president thinks that’s fine and is a good thing and is healthy for our financial sector and our broader economy, broadly speaking. The issue is what vision do you bring to the office, what policies would you implement, and are those policies informed by the vision and by your experience.”

CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield also took Obama Campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt to task Tuesday over the Bain campaign ad.

“It was real heart-wrenching to listen to those steelworkers in your add that was ripping Mitt Romney for being at the helm of Bain, when in fact he wasn’t at the helm when that company went bankrupt. Was that fair, or was that dirty?”

Mr. LaBolt insisted that Mr. Romney was still the owner of Bain after he left for Salt Lake City to help clean up the Olympics.

“He was there when they loaded the company up with debt, put them on a path to bankruptcy and ultimately 750 workers lost their jobs and their full pensions,” he said.

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On Monday the campaign went on the attack in a new ad scheduled to run in five swing states featuring interviews with former workers at a Kansas City, Missouri steel mill that was taken over in 1993 by Boston-based Bain Capital, the private equity firm co-founded by Mr. Romney.

With the fate of the economy the defining issue in the campaign so far, the Obama campaign is assailing Mr. Romney’s business background as the wrong experience for the job as president, considering Wall Street’s role in the 2008 economic collapse.

The ad also was released following JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s disclosure of a $2 billion trading loss, leading to additional scrutiny of the financial industry.