DES MOINES, Iowa -- President Obama intensified his criticism of Mitt Romney’s career in private equity investment on Thursday, declaring that involvement in “corporate buyouts” doesn’t qualify someone for the Oval Office.
The main goal at a firm like the one Romney led is to create wealth for itself and its investors, Obama said, and sometimes that means “working folks get stuck holding the bag.”
“That may be the job of somebody engaged in corporate buyouts,” Obama told a crowd of hundreds at an exhibit hall on the Iowa State Fairgrounds. “But that’s not the job of a president.”
In sharpening his critique, Obama blew past warnings from some fellow Democrats that he should back off this line of criticism. Some take it as as an attack on private equity investors, whose investments play a significant role in the economy.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker and former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell are among those who have come to the defense of the investors.
But advisors to the president say Obama is talking about Romney’s record of experience – a germane topic, they contend, given Romney’s claim that he is qualified for president because of what he did as a businessman.
Besides that, top Obama advisors believe the line of criticism is breaking their way. Even if some big Democratic donors don’t like it, goes the thinking, the average voter in Des Moines probably does.
Romney addressed the criticism Thursday on Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends": “There is no question but that [President Obama] is attacking capitalism," he said. "In part, I think, because he doesn't understand how the free economy works. He's never had a job in the free economy. Neither has Vice President Biden. They spent their lives as either community organizers or as members of the political class.”
Obama said Romney should be “proud of the financial success he’s had,” Obama said, adding that there are “lots of good people” working in that industry.
Romney has made that experience the “entire rationale” for his run for president, Obama said.
There may be a valuable use for that experience, he said, “but it’s not in the White House.”