The response to President Obama’s contention that Mitt Romney doesn’t understand what the president’s job is all about came from another corner today.
John Sununu, former governor of New Hampshire and a prominent Romney surrogate, fielded the subject in a conference call with reporters:
That’s what the Obama campaign is doing with Romney’s business record, according to Sununu.
Bain Capital, the private equity firm which Romney ran, has been criticized for its results for some workers rather than its overall success for investors and the economy, the way Sununu sees it.
In “cherry-picking” failed Bain investments, Sununu said, Democrats have attacked the entire free enterprise system and engaged in unfair character assassination of the Republican Party’s presumed presidential nominee.
“If you want to go and talk about Bain as a whole that is fair,” he said. ”If you want to talk about Bain on a cherry-picking basis, that’s a distortion.”
This complaint would cover moves like the ad the Obama campaign launched this week featuring former employees of SCM, an office supplies company in Marion, Indiana purchased by the Bain-controlled Ampad in 1994.
“We had good jobs that you could raise a family on,” ex-employee and union leader Randy Johnson says in the ad.”We’d been bought and sold in the past, we never had a problem” Johnson says — then 350 workers are fired. The conclusion:”They did not care about us as workers. They were looking at the mighty dollar.”
Obama, in defense of his own critique of Romney’s experience, said at a news conference this week: “He’s saying, ‘I’m a business guy, and I know how to fix it,’ and this is his business. And when you’re president, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot.”
“If your main argument for how to grow the economy is, ‘I knew how to make a lot of money for investors,’ then you’re missing what this job is about,” the president said. “It doesn’t mean you weren’t good at private equity, but that’s not what my job is as president.”
For their part, Democrats have accused Romney of cherry-picking from his own record at Bain, pointing to success stories such as Staples as an example of the many jobs created by smart investments. The company, for its part, has not provided a public accounting of the net loss and gain of jobs at the properties where Romney made money.
Companies backed by Bain over the past 28 years have increased revenue by more than $105 billion, the Boston-based firm said in a letter to clients in March, creating “hundreds of thousands of jobs” in the process. Fewer than 5 percent of those companies have filed for bankruptcy while under Bain’s control, the firm said.
Lisa Lerer, covering the Romney campaign for Bloomberg News, contributed to this report.