- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2012

President Obama is attacking Mitt Romney’s job-creation record when he headed a capital investment firm that turned failing companies and startup businesses into success stories.

The Obama campaign’s two-minute TV attack ad was a breathtaking display of political gall by a president whose failed jobs record in a lackluster economy has been dismal at best.

This week’s Gallup poll puts the underemployment rate (people forced to work fewer hours or temporary jobs and long-term jobless Americans who have dropped out of the labor force) at 18 percent. The unemployment rate is still stuck at more than 8 percent. Fifty percent of college graduates can’t find jobs commensurate with their educational level and work skills.

But Mr. Obama’s campaign this week is running an attack ad criticizing Mr. Romney’s job-creation performance in his 25 years in the world of business.

The late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy used the same attack strategy in his rough-and-tumble Senate re-election battle against Mr. Romney in 1994.

The two-minute ad, which will air during the evening news Wednesday, tells the sad tale of a shuttered steel mill in Kansas City, Mo., in which Mr. Romney’s former firm, Bain Capital, invested, only to see it go bankrupt.

The company’s collapse cost 750 workers their jobs. In the ad, former workers at this plant call Bain a “vampire” outfit that “came in and sucked the life out of us.”

But unlike 1994, when Mr. Romney was unprepared for the Kennedy attack ads, the former governor’s campaign was ready for this one, immediately releasing its own video ad, titled “American Dream.” It tells of Bain’s investment in Steel Dynamics of Indiana, which helped the firm grow from 1,400 workers to more than 6,000.

Mr. Romney’s message is twofold: 1. Not all investments worked out, but far more often than not, his turnaround efforts succeeded, creating jobs and strengthening the U.S. economy. 2. Mr. Obama hasn’t a clue about how the economy works because he’s never worked in it, while Mr. Romney has succeeded in it.

The Obama ad is being aired in swing states that likely will decide the election, including Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

It is political demagoguery pure and simple. Bain tried to save the company, but risk-taking investments do not always work, and this one didn’t, as happens in some cases. However, Bain officials did nothing wrong that would warrant a political attack.

Who says so? Why, none other than Steven Rattner, who was Mr. Obama’s “car czar” and one of his economic advisers.

“I don’t think there’s anything Bain Capital did that they need to be embarrassed about,” Mr. Rattner told MSNBC.

What the Obama campaign leaves out of its attack ad is that Mr. Romney no longer worked at Bain when the steel plant went bankrupt. He had left the company for two years to take charge of the Salt Lake City Olympics.

In fact, when Mr. Romney was running the company, it had one of the investment industry’s best records, and it still does.

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