Mitt Romney’s campaign sees the time he spent at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he co-founded and ran for more than a decade, as a positive experience that highlights his leadership skills and his ability to turn around companies and create jobs. President Obama’s campaign, meanwhile, views Mr. Romney’s Bain Capital years as a political liability that underscores his image as an out-of-touch multimillionaire, concerned only with turning profits for his wealthy investors.
For Mr. Romney’s campaign, the scrutiny of his time at Bain poses a delicate challenge: not only must he defend himself against attacks coming from the president, but he also must try to cast Bain and the lessons he learned there as a testament to his management skills.
Gearing up to confront the attacks, the Romney campaign is actively recruiting testimonials from workers who have had positive experiences with Bain. It is getting ready to release advertising highlighting Bain’s marquee success stories, like the turnaround of Staples. It is considering seeking out middle-class surrogates — a fireman or members of a teachers union, for instance — who would be willing to talk about how Bain managed and increased the size of their pension funds, a lesser-known aspect of private equity. And, repeating a strategy that worked well for the campaign in the nominating contests, it is hoping Mr. Obama’s attacks backfire, painting him as an enemy of free enterprise and capitalism.
“When things are just factually inaccurate, we’ll point those out, but we’ll continue to point out that Bain was successful because it helped grow companies, and that meant more people having work,” said Ed Gillespie, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign.
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