To Bain, or not to Bain?

Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, is a rising star in the Democratic party.   He’s in trouble with Democrats now, though, for objecting to the Obama campaign’s attack on Mitt Romney’s old private-equity firm, Bain Capital.

Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, a close ally of President Obama in the upcoming election, slammed the president’s campaign Sunday for ads attacking Mitt Romney’s work for the private-equity firm Bain Capital.

Booker, who noted that many of his constituents are investors in or employees of New York-based financial firms, said it was wrong for the Obama campaign to portray the expected Republican nominee as someone who pursued profits by slashing jobs while serving as Bain’s chief executive.

“If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses,” Booker said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And this, to me, I’m very uncomfortable with.”

The mayor later released a YouTube video in which he tried to clarify his comments and emphasize his support for the president.

Booker’s remarks earlier Sunday were aimed at a television advertisement introduced by the Obama campaign last week that sharply criticized Romney’s record at Bain — a line of attack seen as central in an election whose outcome is expected to be shaped by voters’ economic concerns.

via Newark Mayor Cory Booker slams Obama campaign attack on Romney’s work for Bain Capital – The Washington Post.

Bain would buy up troubled companies and either get them up and running again or sell off their assets.  Jobs were sometimes created and sometimes lost.  But dying companies are going to lose their jobs eventually anyway.  Still, it’s easy to portray companies in this line of work and their executives with vulture imagery and to bring out people who have lost their jobs in the corporate takeover and put them on TV, as the Obama ads have been doing.

Mayor Booker is rejecting the demagoguery, as well as recognizing that corporate tycoons are big contributors to Democratic coffers.  (Though now Booker has apparently been pressured to back off his criticism.)

Is portraying Romney as a corporate villain a winning or a losing issue for Democrats?  Or, conversely, is nominating a corporate executive in a bad economy with high unemployment a winning or losing issue for Republicans?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    As I recall, Romney had stepped down from Bain before all of the shenanigans started up.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    As I recall, Romney had stepped down from Bain before all of the shenanigans started up.

  • Joe

    This line of attack will be bad for the country no matter who wins the election. An adult discussion of private equity’s role in a free(ish) market economy is not something that be had in a sound bite campaign. As was pointed out, sometimes they shore up the company and sometimes the sell off the assets. This is a necessary part of a free market. Not every business can survive. Not every business is supposed to survive. Its part of the process of how the market allocates resources. To make this concept an evil for the purpose of a political campaign will not be good.

  • Joe

    This line of attack will be bad for the country no matter who wins the election. An adult discussion of private equity’s role in a free(ish) market economy is not something that be had in a sound bite campaign. As was pointed out, sometimes they shore up the company and sometimes the sell off the assets. This is a necessary part of a free market. Not every business can survive. Not every business is supposed to survive. Its part of the process of how the market allocates resources. To make this concept an evil for the purpose of a political campaign will not be good.

  • WebMonk

    I think it’s a very strong potential approach for the President’s reelection campaign. Winning or losing approach, I don’t know. But, it certainly could be a winning tactic.

    Is Romney’s years in Bain fair fodder for election year fighting? Sure.

    Is this particular accusation a solid one? Not in my view, but then I only make 1/50,000,000 of the presidential election. Others might see it as serious.

  • WebMonk

    I think it’s a very strong potential approach for the President’s reelection campaign. Winning or losing approach, I don’t know. But, it certainly could be a winning tactic.

    Is Romney’s years in Bain fair fodder for election year fighting? Sure.

    Is this particular accusation a solid one? Not in my view, but then I only make 1/50,000,000 of the presidential election. Others might see it as serious.

  • Kirk

    To be fair, I think the criticism is fairly easy to counter. Yes, some companies that Bain took over failed. They were failing to begin with, and despite Bain’s efforts, they failed anyways. On the other hand, there are numerous companies that Bain saved from bankruptcy, X number of jobs saved and X number of families kept solvent. If Bain didn’t exist, far more companies would have failed and many more Americans would be out of work. It’s not greedy capitalism, it’s economic growth through sound management and investment. You could even draw a comparison to the bank bailouts and present Bain as a model for how the private sector can self sustain without government intervention, etc. I’m not sure if that would work, but there is a comparison.

    In other news, Cory Booker is so cool.

  • Kirk

    To be fair, I think the criticism is fairly easy to counter. Yes, some companies that Bain took over failed. They were failing to begin with, and despite Bain’s efforts, they failed anyways. On the other hand, there are numerous companies that Bain saved from bankruptcy, X number of jobs saved and X number of families kept solvent. If Bain didn’t exist, far more companies would have failed and many more Americans would be out of work. It’s not greedy capitalism, it’s economic growth through sound management and investment. You could even draw a comparison to the bank bailouts and present Bain as a model for how the private sector can self sustain without government intervention, etc. I’m not sure if that would work, but there is a comparison.

    In other news, Cory Booker is so cool.

  • Pingback: President Obama Directly Seeks to Make Romney’s Business Experience the ‘Bain’ of His Existence – ABC News « Ye Olde Soapbox

  • Pingback: President Obama Directly Seeks to Make Romney’s Business Experience the ‘Bain’ of His Existence – ABC News « Ye Olde Soapbox

  • DonS

    And then there’s this:

    http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/228795-obama-raised-35m-from-private-equity-in-2008

    Of course, only capitalists who support Romney are bad — those who support Obama are good.

  • DonS

    And then there’s this:

    http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/228795-obama-raised-35m-from-private-equity-in-2008

    Of course, only capitalists who support Romney are bad — those who support Obama are good.

  • Norman Teigen

    There is more to this story than has been presented. Let the reader beware.

  • Norman Teigen

    There is more to this story than has been presented. Let the reader beware.

  • formerly just steve

    Norman, what more is there to this story that isn’t being said?

  • formerly just steve

    Norman, what more is there to this story that isn’t being said?

  • Kirk

    @6 Cool story bro!

  • Kirk

    @6 Cool story bro!

  • DonS

    Ominous, Norman @ 6.

    There’s probably more to the story about Romney’s high school pranks in 1965, Ann Romney’s horse hobby, and the Mormon atrocities in Arkansas in the 1860′s as well, though all have been thoroughly covered by our astute mainstream media, which has once again, after a temporary lapse in 2008 for some reason, determined to thoroughly vet presidential candidates.

    They still haven’t had the chance to explore why Obama’s book publicist claimed he was born in Kenya from 1991 to 2007 , though. Turns out Obama himself may have been a birther!

  • DonS

    Ominous, Norman @ 6.

    There’s probably more to the story about Romney’s high school pranks in 1965, Ann Romney’s horse hobby, and the Mormon atrocities in Arkansas in the 1860′s as well, though all have been thoroughly covered by our astute mainstream media, which has once again, after a temporary lapse in 2008 for some reason, determined to thoroughly vet presidential candidates.

    They still haven’t had the chance to explore why Obama’s book publicist claimed he was born in Kenya from 1991 to 2007 , though. Turns out Obama himself may have been a birther!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oh good. DonS has decided to take up Carl Vehse’s slack (@9). I was worried someone wouldn’t step into that void.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oh good. DonS has decided to take up Carl Vehse’s slack (@9). I was worried someone wouldn’t step into that void.

  • DonS

    You would, at least, admit that the whole thing is a bit odd, wouldn’t you, tODD?

  • DonS

    You would, at least, admit that the whole thing is a bit odd, wouldn’t you, tODD?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@11), I work for a publisher. I work with publicists. No, I don’t find it strange at all that factual inaccuracies might make their way — intentionally or not — into marketing materials.

    Nor do I agree with you that the mainstream media somehow failed to “vet” presidential candidates (read: Obama) in 2008. There was plenty of petty nonsense about him flooding the media then, too. How anyone could convince himself otherwise is beyond me.

    I guess nobody had heard of Jeremiah Wright until recently, because no one talked about him and his relationship to Obama in 2008. The media just utterly ignored that story. Sure. Tell yourself that.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@11), I work for a publisher. I work with publicists. No, I don’t find it strange at all that factual inaccuracies might make their way — intentionally or not — into marketing materials.

    Nor do I agree with you that the mainstream media somehow failed to “vet” presidential candidates (read: Obama) in 2008. There was plenty of petty nonsense about him flooding the media then, too. How anyone could convince himself otherwise is beyond me.

    I guess nobody had heard of Jeremiah Wright until recently, because no one talked about him and his relationship to Obama in 2008. The media just utterly ignored that story. Sure. Tell yourself that.

  • Kirk

    @9

    Good lord, I want to put my head through a wall.

    Let’s look at the evidence:

    Evidence that Obama was born in Kenya: an off-hand remark from his grandmother, a short bio from a publisher.

    Evidence that Obama was born in the United States: his own statements, his mother’s statements, Hawaiian news papers, Hawaiian birth certificate(s), every other piece of documentation on the subject.

    Why on earth should the notion that he was born in Kenya worth considering?

  • Kirk

    @9

    Good lord, I want to put my head through a wall.

    Let’s look at the evidence:

    Evidence that Obama was born in Kenya: an off-hand remark from his grandmother, a short bio from a publisher.

    Evidence that Obama was born in the United States: his own statements, his mother’s statements, Hawaiian news papers, Hawaiian birth certificate(s), every other piece of documentation on the subject.

    Why on earth should the notion that he was born in Kenya worth considering?

  • DonS

    Yes, tODD, but this isn’t just a routine “factual inaccuracy”. Getting the year of your college diploma wrong is routine. Getting the country of your birth wrong for 17 years in a row, especially when you are running for a job requiring native citizenship, is downright strange. The most plausible theory is that it was an intentional error which gave the author more “diversity” credibility given the subject he was covering in the original book, but when his presidential campaign heated up, it was realized that a revision to the truth was necessary. But it certainly points out, given Elizabeth Warren’s phony “Native American” claim, the ends to which folks have to go today to make it in a “diversity” world, to the point of fraud, apparently.

    There’s a very interesting story there, that at least deserves a look, but the media seems to have no interest.

  • DonS

    Yes, tODD, but this isn’t just a routine “factual inaccuracy”. Getting the year of your college diploma wrong is routine. Getting the country of your birth wrong for 17 years in a row, especially when you are running for a job requiring native citizenship, is downright strange. The most plausible theory is that it was an intentional error which gave the author more “diversity” credibility given the subject he was covering in the original book, but when his presidential campaign heated up, it was realized that a revision to the truth was necessary. But it certainly points out, given Elizabeth Warren’s phony “Native American” claim, the ends to which folks have to go today to make it in a “diversity” world, to the point of fraud, apparently.

    There’s a very interesting story there, that at least deserves a look, but the media seems to have no interest.

  • DonS

    Kirk @ 13: You are completely missing the point. I’m not a birther, nor are the other outlets that have reported on this issue, as they have very carefully indicated in their reporting.

    The story is not “Obama was born in Kenya”, but rather “For some reason, Obama or his publicist reported that he was born in Kenya”.

    Worth a closer look, don’t you think? Especially when the Post sees fit, in a couple of weeks, to report on Romney’s high school hijinks and what the effect might be in Arkansas voting of Mormon hijinks in 1860.

  • DonS

    Kirk @ 13: You are completely missing the point. I’m not a birther, nor are the other outlets that have reported on this issue, as they have very carefully indicated in their reporting.

    The story is not “Obama was born in Kenya”, but rather “For some reason, Obama or his publicist reported that he was born in Kenya”.

    Worth a closer look, don’t you think? Especially when the Post sees fit, in a couple of weeks, to report on Romney’s high school hijinks and what the effect might be in Arkansas voting of Mormon hijinks in 1860.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS, I’m sorry, but even if we take your less-charitable version as a given (i.e., it was intentional), it’s still very much a “dog bites man” story: publicity materials play up interesting marketing angle by stretching the truth.

    Also, I simply don’t believe you’d have any interest in this story if it were about a candidate you favored. Sorry.

    But it certainly points out, given Elizabeth Warren’s phony “Native American” claim, the ends to which folks have to go today to make it in a “diversity” world, to the point of fraud, apparently.

    Oh, thank goodness, you were able to mangle this into an anti-diversity tirade. Because it’s obviously the liberals who’ve so ruined this world that only recently have people felt compelled to stretch the truth about themselves in order to bolster their credibility. That never used to happen before, when conservatives were in charge.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS, I’m sorry, but even if we take your less-charitable version as a given (i.e., it was intentional), it’s still very much a “dog bites man” story: publicity materials play up interesting marketing angle by stretching the truth.

    Also, I simply don’t believe you’d have any interest in this story if it were about a candidate you favored. Sorry.

    But it certainly points out, given Elizabeth Warren’s phony “Native American” claim, the ends to which folks have to go today to make it in a “diversity” world, to the point of fraud, apparently.

    Oh, thank goodness, you were able to mangle this into an anti-diversity tirade. Because it’s obviously the liberals who’ve so ruined this world that only recently have people felt compelled to stretch the truth about themselves in order to bolster their credibility. That never used to happen before, when conservatives were in charge.

  • brianh

    Yes, Bain Capital’s activities will hurt Romney with moderates. How it plays out depends on which states/electoral votes it impacts. Ohio. Right now Obama looks like toast. But the election is not now.

  • brianh

    Yes, Bain Capital’s activities will hurt Romney with moderates. How it plays out depends on which states/electoral votes it impacts. Ohio. Right now Obama looks like toast. But the election is not now.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 16: It’s not an issue of charity. It’s an issue of a startling lack of curiosity on the part of the press regarding anything Obama-related. All I was saying was that the MSM doesn’t even seem interested in reporting the story or asking the questions. But they’ve sure got the time to trot out those high school and 1800′s Mormon stories if they think they can possibly take a jab at Romney.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 16: It’s not an issue of charity. It’s an issue of a startling lack of curiosity on the part of the press regarding anything Obama-related. All I was saying was that the MSM doesn’t even seem interested in reporting the story or asking the questions. But they’ve sure got the time to trot out those high school and 1800′s Mormon stories if they think they can possibly take a jab at Romney.


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