The Republican presidential candidate can’t seem to shake allegations involving his work with Bain Capital, a private equity firm he founded and ran.
Some of the allegations aren’t new. His Republican primary opponents made hay with the fact that some of the companies Bain invested in were eventually broken apart, leaving hundreds of workers unemployed. In this telling, the arrival of Bain at a local factory was viewed much the way the arrival of Somali pirates are today — nothing good can come of it.
The Obama campaign is driving the latest allegations, the ones that suggest while under Romney, Bain shipped American jobs overseas. Romney’s defense is that he was no longer running the equity firm in the early 2000s, when it was responsible for shipping jobs from the United States to China, India and other international locales.
By that time, Romney says, he had stepped down from the company. He says he exited Bain in 1999 to rescue the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Official documents from Bain dispute that claim. They list Romney as playing an important role in the company much later than that, into 2001.
Not surprisingly, Team Obama is running with this. It’s a “big Bain lie,” according to the campaign.
The president’s deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter put it more bluntly, “Either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature, was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony, or he is misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments.”
It’s gonna be a long presidential campaign season.
For Romney, there’s no better way to describe what’s going than calling it “Swift-Baining,” a reference to the 2004 full-frontal attack on presidential candidate John Kerry’s Vietnam War record.
The campaign of Kerry, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, was swamped by a sustained and fierce campaign to paint him as something akin to a phony war hero. The historical record disputes those allegations, yet the money behind Kerry’s Swiftboating made sure to raise enough doubt to injure the senator.
At this point, the Bain-related allegations against Romney could seriously wound the Republican candidate’s chance this fall. Though, we must add, the case isn’t completely closed and there’s still a chance for Romney to survive this onslaught.
In a twist of fate, there are only a few politicians who can relate to the pickle Romney finds himself in. The aforementioned Kerry could surely empathize. From recent times, the other candidate who knows what that hot seat feels like is Barack Obama, who has had his birth certificate, his love of country, his intelligence and his U.S. citizenship questioned for the past four years.
Obama, it turns out, is a fast learner. Swiftboating worked, and so might Swift-Baining.