Political Animal


January 02, 2012 9:35 AM Romney haunted by his victims

By Steve Benen

During Mitt Romney’s Senate campaign 17 years ago, the Republican politician was faring quite well against Ted Kennedy, right up until voters started hearing from some of Romney’s victims.

To briefly review, Romney got very rich running a private-equity firm, Bain Capital, which broke up companies and laid off American workers. He had considerable success orchestrating leveraged buyouts, seeking taxpayer subsidies, flipping companies quickly for large profits, and making money for investors, even when the employees of those companies were deemed collateral damage.

In the 1994 campaign, this mattered. Many of Romney’s victims drove to Massachusetts to protest the Republican’s campaign, and Democrats put together a half-dozen ads featuring laid-off workers who said they suffered while Romney lined his pockets at their expense.

It proved effective in 1994, and Dems hope it will work again in 2012.

A former employee of Bain Capital, GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney’s former company, said Sunday that Romney’s decisions cost him and many others their jobs.

Randy Johnson said Sunday that the former Massachusetts governor’s decisions as Bain’s CEO put him out of work.

Romney was the chief executive officer of Bain Capital in 1992 when the company purchased American Pad & Paper, or Ampad, and oversaw the management of that company and others.

Ampad went bankrupt in 2000, and investors netted over $100 million from the deal, according to the Boston Globe.

Johnson told reporters yesterday, “I really feel that he didn’t care about the workers. It was all about profit over people.”

For its part, the Romney campaign recently began arguing that critics of Bain Capital’s layoffs are borderline communists, trying to “put free enterprise on trial.”

Between this and Romney’s agenda — take away health care coverage from millions, tax breaks for the wealthy, free reign for Wall Street, more foreclosures — the “man of the people” routine may prove to be a tough sell.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • stormskies on January 02, 2012 9:42 AM:

    Between this and Romney’s agenda — take away health care coverage from millions, tax breaks for the wealthy, free reign for Wall Street, more foreclosures — the “man of the people” routine may prove to be a tough sell


    And yet nearly half of the voting age public, those that will vote, will vote for this ? This fact is a sad testimony to the utter cretinism of a vast amount of our fellow citizens.

  • c u n d gulag on January 02, 2012 9:48 AM:

    Mitt -a man of the people?

    Only if the people live in gated communities, or are a cut-your-nose-off-to-spite-your-face, pig ignorant voter who watches FOX or listens to Rush, Glenn, Sean, etc., and confuses racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophoblic, propagandistic bullsh*t, and confuses it with news.

    Yeah, Mitt's a man of THOSE people.
    The rest of us?
    Uhm, not so much...

  • Danp on January 02, 2012 9:48 AM:

    I don't doubt that "he doesn't care about the workers" will work to some degree, but most people don't expect CEO's to "care". More important (and I think effective) would be to show how venture capitalists make their profits, and how that mentality or process improves the economy - or doesn't. In this case, gutting, merging and setting up initial public offerings is more about creating the illusion of value, rather than stimulating demand or efficient supply. It's great for investors (the shadow economy), but not the real economy.

  • tomb on January 02, 2012 9:50 AM:

    Could anyone provide a link to an article that explains how Bain Capital worked. I have a vague idea but not enough to argue against it. Thanks.

  • Bruce Rosner on January 02, 2012 10:02 AM:

    I don't think this type of attack is very effective. Sadly Americans admire the rich and associate wealth with virtue. The fact that a person's wealth might have been obtained by morally reprehensible methods or at the expense of others is unfortunately irrelevant to most voters.

  • jjm on January 02, 2012 10:50 AM:

    The NYT laid out the way Bain works in a front page story a few weeks ago. It was clear, concise and would be a good place for anyone curious about how it operates to look. Their vampiric practices should be made familiar to all Americans who may long have wondered, as I have, how a lot of good, old fashioned solid companies that had produced quality goods for decades, suddenly became worthless and their products inferior...

    The 'money' made is phony money and the American people should be made to understand it. It also explains why the GOP has become the staunch defenders of those who make money this way and by other methods of defrauding everyone: clients, stockholders, workers and holders of debt.

    If they are made to understand the origin of Romney's wealth I don't think they will be so admiring as @Bruce Rosner believes.

    This guy is all image, no substance. He thinks aura is all.

  • SW on January 02, 2012 11:01 AM:

    It is long past time someone put vulture capitalism on trial. I suggest the death penalty.

  • rikyrah on January 02, 2012 12:09 PM:

    Willard says he should be President because of his ' business experience'.

    it's the core of his run.

    therefore, what HE DID as a businessman in fair game.

    the ads truly do write themselves.

    while he destroyed the financial livelihoods of these people and took away their pensions..

    HE is STILL getting paid by Bain - TO THIS DAY (which must become part of the ads)

    he didn't get rich by building companies.

    he got rich by DESTROYING THEM, and shipping jobs overseas.

    like I said before.....

    the ads write themselves.

  • Kane on January 02, 2012 12:48 PM:

    It should also be noted that while Romney was running Bain Capital, Bain was the beneficiary of a $10 million bailout that taxpayers had to pay for.

    Also, Romney's retirement package from Bain Captia­l continues to provide him with millions of dollars each year. Thus, every business over the course of more than a decade that Bain has dismantled­­, every layoff, every firing, every job outsourced overseas, Romney has profited from.

  • Kathryn on January 02, 2012 12:56 PM:

    The ads do write themselves, plus he hasn't held a real job since he was governor of Massachusetts. He opened the door to that critique with his I'm unemployed too nonsense, while speaking to actual unemployed folks. What a card that Mittens is, a real laugh riot, like everybody's least favorite uncle.

  • jcricket on January 02, 2012 3:18 PM:

    Romney personally made millions off of breaking apart legitimate companies, putting their people out of work, and arranging taxpayer bailouts.

    And this is the model that he says we should consider when thinking of the future of our country? We should put his talent at this kind of activity to work?

    We want to break the economy completely apart? We want to put even more people out of work? While those of us who still have some kind of employment are shoveling taxpayer money at the Wall Street crowd who are not yet done robbing every last soul of every last dime possible?

    This is the Romney experience that we should want to adopt on a national level?

    Please Mr Romney, DO run on this platform!

  • Zorro on January 02, 2012 3:24 PM:

    Between this and Romney�s agenda... the �man of the people� routine may prove to be a tough sell.

    But you never asked what people. Mittens is a man of his people: the 1%.