Mitt Romney at a campaign rally in Craig, Colo. (Justin Sullivan / Getty…)
President Obama’s reelection campaign for weeks has been portraying Mitt Romney as a heartless profiteer who enriched himself in corporate buyout deals that spawned bankruptcies and thousands of layoffs.
On Tuesday, Romney and his allies struck back.
In twin Web videos, Romney and American Crossroads, a “super PAC,” blame Obama for layoffs at renewable energy firms subsidized by the government.
Romney’s video cites job losses at Solyndra, First Solar and SunPower.
“Obama is giving taxpayer money to big donors and then watching them lose it,” an announcer says in the Romney video, which shows grainy images of a dejected laid-off worker. “Good for them. Bad for us.”
Romney’s campaign is barred by law from coordinating with super PACs. A campaign spokesman, Ryan Williams, said the American Crossroads effort was “entirely independent” but not surprising, given Obama’s “very obvious vulnerability” on the issue.
The American Crossroads video takes on Obama for “attacking private equity” when his administration provided “public equity” to firms that ran into financial trouble and cut their workforce. Like Romney’s video, it names Solyndra, First Solar and SunPower.
“Failed investment strategies,” the narrator says. “Jobs eliminated. Billions lost. Public equity President Obama. Playing Wall Street games with our money.”
The Obama campaign showed no sign of letting up on its attacks on Romney’s involvement in corporate takeover deals engineered by Bain Capital, the Boston equity firm that he once led.
“Does Mitt Romney still believe it’s okay to bankrupt a company and walk away with millions when workers are left without jobs, pensions, and health care?” Ben LaBolt, the Obama campaign press secretary, said in a written statement.
Romney has dismissed such attacks as an assault on free enterprise. Not every deal is successful, but on balance, he says, buyouts that took place on his watch at Bain produced thousands of jobs.
LaBolt also circulated a December 2011 article from the Boston Herald calling attention to companies that got $4.5 million in loans from the state of Massachusetts when Romney was governor, then defaulted. One of them, Acusphere, was a Romney campaign donor, the Herald reported.
Despite criticism leveled at Obama even by Democrats for the Bain attacks, the president has suggested the back-and-forth will continue for the remaining five months of the campaign.
“This is not a distraction,” Obama told reporters last week in Chicago – a statement that American Crossroads used as the conclusion of its video. “This is what this campaign’s going to be about.