When it comes to Mitt Romney’s background at Bain Capital, we tend to think about the layoffs in the abstract. Romney orchestrated leveraged buyouts, flipping companies quickly for large profits, at the expense of thousands of workers who were considered collateral damage.
But the story has a greater impact when we shift away from the thousands and towards the individual victims. Randy Johnson, for example, who lost his job in the ’90s when Romney took over American Pad & Paper (Ampad), has been an active critic of the Republican. Johnson told reporters this week, “I really feel that he didn’t care about the workers. It was all about profit over people.”
But Johnson isn’t the only one. MoveOn.org released a new ad this morning featuring steel worker and Army veteran Donny Box, who lost his job of 32 years at Kansas City’s GST after Romney’s firm took it over.
“We lost our jobs, they made millions,” Box says in the ad. Box concludes, “Mitt Romney wants to call himself a ‘job creator’? Mitt Romney doesn’t care about jobs. He cares about money.”
The spot will run in New Hampshire starting tomorrow and running through Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary.
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.” Who knows, maybe that’ll work.
But it strikes me as a pretty potent area of criticism. Between this and Romney’s larger agenda — take away health care coverage from millions, tax breaks for the wealthy, free rein for Wall Street, more foreclosures — it would appear Romney may struggle to reconcile his message/background and the public’s economic anxieties.
Remember, Romney has been haunted by his victims before, and in his 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.
When the general election phase gets under way, I suspect we’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more about this.