Dems Enter Second Week Of Bain Attacks Amid Criticism

By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown
By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown

(CNN) – President Barack Obama's re-election team began their second week of attacks on Mitt Romney's record as a private executive Monday, using a web video to highlight a paper plant that went bankrupt after being acquired by a company owed by Bain Capital, Romney's former firm.

The Democrats' second week of bearing down on Bain Capital comes after criticism of the jabs from the popular Democratic mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Cory Booker, who said on Sunday the constant political warfare from Democrats and Republicans was "'nauseating."

"I'm not going to sit here and indict private equity. To me we're getting to a ridiculous point in America," Booker said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "If you look at the totality of Bain Capital's record, they've done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses, and this, to me, I'm very uncomfortable with."

Booker later released a web video to clarify his comments, saying Romney's tenure at Bain was fair game for political scrutiny. In his follow-up, Booker used almost identical language in justifying the Bain attacks as Obama's campaign staff.

"Let me be clear," Booker said. "Mitt Romney had made his business record a centerpiece of his campaign. He's talked about himself as a job creator. And therefore, it is reasonable, and in fact I encourage it, for the Obama campaign to examine that record and discuss it. I have no problem with that."

Booker went on to suggest Romney hasn't been completely forthcoming about his time as Bain's chief executive.

Booker's defense of the Bain attacks – that they're justified since Romney bases much of his campaigning on his record as a businessman – mimics closely the reasoning from Obama's campaign staff, which defended the attacks from various critics last week.

In Monday's web video, workers from SCM, a small Indiana paper company, detail how their plant was bought by Bain-owned American Pad and Paper (Ampad) in 1994. Workers at SCM subsequently lost their jobs, along with their health insurance.

"They put armed guards at the doors, did not look at anyone, did not speak to anybody, and told us we all were fired," one worker says in the video.

The Obama web video makes certain to tie the plant's closure to Romney.

"To me, Mitt Romney takes from the poor and the middle class and gives to the rich," one worker says in the spot. "He's just the opposite of Robin Hood."

Ampad eventually went bankrupt in 2000, but as the web video points out, Bain was still able to make millions in profits from the company.

The DNC profiled Ampad ahead of the Iowa GOP presidential caucus in January, and the company also featured heavily in Mitt Romney's 1994 U.S. Senate campaign against Ted Kennedy.

One former worker from Ampad, Randy Johnson, has been active in helping Democrats chip away at Romney's Bain record, appearing at campaign events with vice president Joe Biden and speaking on conference calls to criticize the Republican's business record.

Last week Obama's campaign began focusing on Romney's time at Bain using a two-minute television spot detailing the closure of GST Steel, a Bain-owned company that went bankrupt in 2001.

Originally, the campaign only spent about $100,000 to air the spot, but on Monday said they were extending the ad purchase in Ohio.

Romney has defended his time at Bain, saying the closing of some plants is countered by other businesses that succeeded under Bain's watch.

Last week Romney called the Bain attacks "character assassination," telling reporters on Thursday that Democrats were skewing the reality of his time at the company.

"His efforts to look at my work at Bain is to try to characterize me in a way that isn't accurate," Romney said in Florida. "My effort at Bain Capital, as you know, was in every case designed to make the enterprises we invested in more successful, to grow them. There's this fiction that some have that somehow you can be highly successful by stripping assets from enterprise and walking away with lots of money and killing the enterprise. There may be some people who know how to do that. I sure don't."

CNN's Jessica Yellin, Paul Steinhauser and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

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