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Pro-Gingrich "super PAC" plans ad assault on Romney's Bain record

January 07, 2012|By Tom Hamburger
  • A "super PAC" backing Newt Gingrich's presidential bid has run ads supporting Gingrich and attacking his rivals.
A "super PAC" backing Newt Gingrich's presidential bid… (Winning Our Future PAC )

Voters in South Carolina are likely to see an aggressive attack on Mitt Romney and his work in the private equity field that made him wealthy.

The assault, set to begin Monday, is remarkable because it comes not from "labor stooges" or the allies of “crony capitalist Barack Obama," whom Romney has ridiculed in recent days.

Rather, it comes in the form of an ad campaign by a group backing Newt Gingrich, which receives financial support from some of the country's most ardent conservatives.

The new campaign “will be strong and sustained,” according to one person familiar with the plan who declined to provide details. In addition to South Carolina, the ads may also be broadcast in New Hampshire and other early voting states.

The ads are expected to overtly criticize the company Romney founded, Bain Capital. A general preview of the coming anti-Romney campaign provided to the Los Angeles Times  included footage from a new documentary in which an announcer says Bain's "greed was matched only a willingness to do anything to make millions in profits."

The ads were briefly visible on a new site prepared by Gingrich allies, but the clips have since been removed.

Anger at the financial elite has been roiling throughout the early part of this election season. But the criticism has come mostly from the left. This new wave may be a sign of how widespread the anger is, and underlines the likelihood of a 2012 campaign that is not only about debating credentials of candidates, but the nature of capitalism itself. Themes in the ads were tested with Republican voter focus groups, according to a Gingrich ally.

The ads will rely on footage from a film highly critical of Romney that was just completed by a former Romney ally, Jason Meath, who collaborated in 2008 with Romney adviser Stuart Stevens to produce pro-Romney ads.  Through an associate, Meath declined a request to comment for this story.

The Times reviewed a portion of the new film, which has high production values and is presented as a documentary. Called “When Mitt Romney Came to Town,”  the video focuses on four companies that Bain took over in the 1980s and 1990s. It includes interviews with workers and residents in Marion, Ind., where a plant owned by Ampad was shut down after Bain acquired the firm.

“Wall Street’s corporate raiders made billions of dollars," an announcer intones, at the beginning of the film, citing the "greed" of Wall Street's leveraged buyout firms. "Nothing mattered but profits. This film is about one such raider and his firm.”

The rights to the film were purchased late last week by “Winning Our Future” a "super PAC" backing Gingrich. Outtakes have been made into ads that are likely to begin airing Monday in South Carolina, according to a person familiar with the plan who asked not to be identified.

The new effort, disclosed first by the Daily Beast, drew a harsh response from Romney backers Saturday.

“It’s puzzling to see Speaker Gingrich and his supporters continue their attacks on free enterprise,” said Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul. "Unlike President Obama and Speaker Gingrich, Mitt Romney spent his career in business and knows what it will take to turn around our nation’s bad economy.” Gingrich came in for harsh criticism several weeks ago when he raised questions about job losses created by leveraged buyout deals that Romey has been associated with.

Romney and his allies claim he created tens of thousands of jobs through Bain. Some Gingrich conservatives see it differently.

“Mitt Romney claims he helped create jobs when, in fact, he destroyed jobs, destroyed families, communities and marriages,” said Rick Tyler, a longtime aide to Gingrich who is now a senior advisor to the super PAC “Winning the Future,” which bought rights to the documentary. “Don’t tell me you are are ‘Mr. Job Creation’ when you have destroyed thousands of jobs,” Tyler said in an interview Saturday morning.

The Los Angeles Times found a mixed record of job creation at Bain in a story that provided a sweeping look at Bain's record during the Romney era.

tom.hamburger@latimes.com

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