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Romney campaign attacks Obama on supposed cronyism

July 16, 2012|By Maeve Reston
  • Mitt Romney's campaign is launching an effort to take President Obama to task for "Chicago-style politics."
Mitt Romney's campaign is launching an effort to take President Obama… (Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty…)

DOVER, N.H. -- Hoping to change the subject after several rough days, Mitt Romney’s campaign launched a new attack Monday on President Obama’s “Chicago-style politics,” saying political cronyism has contributed to the country’s slow creep back from the Great Recession.

“President Obama has said the economy is 'doing fine,’ “ Ed Gillespie, a senior Romney strategist, said on a morning conference call with reporters. “Well that may be true if you are one of his contributors, but if you are a middle-class worker you are not doing fine."

Gillespie said under the Obama administration, decisions are "often made based on political calculations, as opposed to what's best for the economy and we are seeing the results of that."

There is "a very close, tight-knit correlation between political activity and government benefit," Gillespie said, promising the Romney campaign would highlight numerous examples” of what he called “Chicago-style politics” in the days to come.

The Republican presidential hopeful has been under fire from Democrats amid questions about when exactly he left the private equity firm Bain Capital, where he built his personal fortune. A  Boston Globe report last week cited SEC documents showing that Romney remained the chief executive, president and sole owner of Bain through 2002, not 1999 as he has said.

The Obama campaign has said Romney should be held accountable for the company’s activities, including layoffs and outsourcing of jobs, during that three-year period. More broadly, the Obama campaign has suggested the timing of when the former Massachusetts governor left Bain goes to the truthfulness and personality integrity of the candidate.

In an unusual move, Romney on Friday granted interviews to five television networks to try to explain the discrepancies surrounding his departure from Bain. He said he had no management role in the company after 1999.

But rather than clarifying matters, Romney's answers may have only confused matters. His discussion of the detailed ownership structure, involving general partners and assorted investors, may be lost on the average voter.

During the conference call, Gillespie said the Obama campaign was focusing on “little things” to distract attention from the country’s persistently high unemployment rate and start-and-stop economic recovery.

But the Romney campaign also was engaged Monday in another attempt to change the recent campaign narrative.  In addition to the focus on Bain, Romney has come under increasing pressure—even from some Republicans—to release more of his tax returns. So far, he has released only his 2010 tax return and his estimated tax liability for 2011.

On the call, Gillespie reiterated that Romney would release his complete 2011 returns sometime before the election. As for other years, the candidate has said voters will have a clear picture of his personal finances by the time they vote in November.

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maeve.reston@latimes.com

Twitter: @maevereston

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