Obama targets 'vampire' firm run by Romney


IT WAS only a matter of time before President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign followed earlier adversaries of Mitt Romney in portraying the Republican candidate as a callous millionaire who amassed his fortune by scooping up failing companies, stripping assets and firing employees in the heartless pursuit of profit.

The Obama campaign broadcast Steel, a two-minute advert decrying Bain Capital’s record at GS Technologies steel mill in Kansas City, Missouri, in five must-win battleground states last night.

The states were Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and the ad targeted blue-collar “Reagan Democrats” who have grown disillusioned with Obama.

Mr Romney founded Bain in 1984 and was its chief executive until he left in 1999 to organise the Salt Lake City winter Olympics. Though GST did not go bankrupt until 2001, Stephanie Cutter, Mr Obama’s deputy campaign manager, said Mr Romney oversaw the purchase of GST in 1993, established its structure and was still listed as company head when it went broke. “He was still making profits off this deal,” Ms Cutter said.

Of the $21.6 million (€16.92 million) in income Romney declared on his 2010 tax returns, $13 million (€10.18 million) came from Bain.

Like the audience the candidates are trying to win over, the men who deliver testimonials in Steel are white, working class and ageing. They speak from their living rooms, against backdrops of family photographs and American flags.

“They made as much money off it as they could,” says Joe Soptic, who had been a steelworker for 30 years. “They closed it down, they filed for bankruptcy, without any concern for the families or the communities.”

The 750 workers who lost their jobs at GST also lost their pensions and healthcare benefits while Bain reaped $12 million in profits.

“It was like a vampire, they came in and sucked the life out of us,” says Jack Cobb, another steelworker, speaking of Bain. “It was like watching an old friend bleed to death,” Soptic says of the company.

Their quotes are intercut with clips from Romney speeches. “As I look around at the millions of Americans without work, it breaks my heart,” Romney says.

“Those guys were all rich,” Soptic continues. “They all have more money than they’ll ever spend. Yet they didn’t have the money to take care of the very people that made the money for them.”

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