Mitt Romney's campaign keeps shifting its response to attacks on his career at Bain Capital after President Obama's campaign seized on a Washington Post story calling the company a "pioneer" in lowering costs by moving jobs overseas. First the campaign argued the Post was conflating outsourcing and offshoring, then it tried to get a retraction from the Post, then it posted a 2-minute video defending Bain's role at one company it took over, then pulled the video down. In Romney's stump speech in Virginia Wednesday, Politico's Ginger Gibson reports, he used the somewhat populist-sounding phrase "fair shot."
The Bain defense video -- posted by Politico's Alexander Burns despite the campaign taking it down -- features former GST Steel vice president B.C. Huselton saying he can't sit by and listen to the attacks on Bain anymore. GST Steel was the Kansas City plant that closed in the early 1990s, and its former workers were featured in both Obama campaign and Super PAC ads. Huselton says:
"Did it all work out? No. Did we make a difference? I think we made a big difference. There’s this vampire story that Bain comes in and shows its teeth and sucks the blood out of the operation. It was really entirely the opposite of that. We went looking for a blood donor… Bain came in and the way I look at it, actually gave us a bit of a transfusion."
It's not clear why the campaign took the ad down, but you can see a subtle shift in Romney framing his economic message -- that the government has made so many rules it's hard for people to pursue the American dream -- in slightly more populist terms. He said in Virginia Wednesday:
"If it ever came to a time, when we had a president that did not give a fair shot to the middle class people of America, it's this president... And, because of this, we're going to get a president who will give a fair shot to the American people."
The attacks on Bain are not effective in Washington, D.C., but they appear to be working in swing states like Ohio, where anti-Bain ads have aired and voters see Romney's business résumé more negatively than the rest of the country does. And they will continue to. On Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden referred to the Post story before a crowd of more than 500 in Dubuque, Iowa, the Des Moines Register's Jason Noble reports. Biden told the crowd that the Romney campaign's response to the story was just evidence that it was true. "Romney helped — and by his response acknowledged that he helped — companies take work that was being done in the United States or could’ve been done in the United States and sent it overseas, off American shores." Meanwhile, the pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA posted a new Bain ad Thursday.