Obama super-PAC Priorities USA has issued a new attack ad that has a lot in common with May’s much-debated campaign commercial featuring former employees of Kansas City’s GST Steel, which dropped 750 workers in 1993 following a takeover by Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital. The new ad focuses on a single laid-off steelworker, Donnie Box, who has an unsurprisingly negative take on the private equity firm’s handling of the situation. Against the backdrop of the abandoned-looking factory, Box explains that the mill was once “booming” before “Mitt Romney and Bain Capital shut this place down.” After lamenting the loss of the company’s retirement and health care packages, which Bain apparently promised to maintain, Box concludes, “[Romney and Bain] don’t live in this neighborhood. They don’t live in this part of the world.”
And that sentiment — that rich robot Mitt Romney is fundamentally disconnected from the average American — is the point of the ad. From a memo released by Priorities USA (and shared with Politico):
While criticism of Romney’s business record may not resonate with elites, it is clearly resonating with the actual voters who will decide this election,” Burton writes. “Middle class Americans across this country are concerned about Romney’s record of profiting from bankruptcies and are affected by the stories of people like Loris Huffman and Pat Wells who lost everything so that Romney could make millions.
(For those playing at home: Huffman and Wells, also former steelworkers, were featured in another, similar commercial.) The memo goes on to say that attacking Romney’s business career is doing “real damage” to his campaign: A Democratic polling firm found that 40 percent of independents said that Romney’s job at Bain made them less likely to vote for him. At the very least, it’s doing real damage to the reputations of people who work in private equity, which is an industry we’re guessing most Americans didn’t know existed until Romney hit the national stage. According to one consulting firm, 47 percent of voters now agree that “private equity acquisitions lead to an unfair result.” (“Investors walk off with big returns, and working folks get stuck holding the bag.”)
The Romney camp dismissed the ad as “another misleading attack from President Obama’s allies,” and made reference to Cory Booker’s (since-cured) nausea over the Obama team’s digs at Bain, as well as Bill Clinton’s never-to-be-forgotten observations about Romney’s “sterling” record there. Meanwhile, Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod took to ABC’s This Week to continue with the Romney-is-not-like-you-and-me theme by highlighting the candidate’s recent mockery of the president’s call for more jobs in the public sector, like teaching: “We’re not going to win, and our kids aren’t going to win, unless we invest in education. So I would suggest he’s living on a different planet if he thinks that’s a prescription for a stronger economy.”
Also making the Sunday news show rounds were Republicans Mitch Daniels (the governor of Indiana) and Scott Walker (the recently un-recalled governor of Wisconsin), who both said that Romney needed to do more than respond to attacks with more attacks. Daniels told Fox News Sunday that the Republican candidate “needs to offer a bold, affirmative agenda” and a “message of hope” to win, while Walker suggested he “take a page out of President Reagan’s playbook in 1980” by pointing out his opponent’s supposed failures while also laying out “a clear plan.” In the meantime, he should prepare to hear from some more steelworkers.