Romney no Outsourcer-in-Chief
Mitt Romney, frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, is a “corporate raider,” “outsourcing pioneer,” and, as President, would be the “outsourcer-in-chief,” according to incumbent President Barack Obama.
How are we to judge the President’s charges?
These attacks can be traced back to a June 11 report from James Carville’s organization, Democracy Corps. Regarding interviews with focus groups of swing and independent voters, the report stated, “when asked whether Romney or Obama would do a better job on the economy, more chose Romney.” The report concluded that “We [Democrats] will face an impossible headwind in November if we do not move to a new narrative” – specifically, shifting the focus from the economy to attacks on Romney as “rich, out of touch, and in the pocket for Wall Street and big finance.”
On June 20, the Obama campaign began targeting swing states with negative ads characterizing Romney as a “corporate raider,” citing as its source a Reuters story. The following day, Washington Post Fact Checker Glen Kessler checked into this charge, reporting that Reuters informed him that the use of the phrase “corporate raider” was actually an error by a stringer that “must have just slipped through the net.” Kessler gave Obama four “Pinocchios” for this bogus claim.
Nevertheless, in a move that some have charged was no coincidence, that same day, the Post’s Web site featured a story titled “Romney’s Bain Capital invested in companies that moved jobs overseas,” alleging that:
During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories…
On June 22, the Post ran this story (titled “Bain’s firms sent jobs overseas” in the print edition) on the front page. That same day, in a campaign speech in Tampa, Fla., Obama picked up on the Post’s “pioneering” rhetoric, saying, “We do not need an outsourcing pioneer in the Oval Office.” On June 25, on the stump in Boston, he referred specifically to the Post report, saying:
Just last week, it was reported that Governor Romney’s old firm owned companies that were “pioneers” — this is not my phrase, but how it was described in the report — ‘pioneers’ in the business of outsourcing American jobs to places like China and India.
On June 27, the Obama campaign began running another TV ad, calling Romney “outsourcer-in-chief.” It cited the Post story by name in a memo titled “Mitt Romney: Outsourcing Pioneer.” FactCheck.org weighed in on these charges, reporting:
after reviewing numerous corporate filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, contemporary news accounts, company histories and press releases, and the evidence offered by both the Obama and Romney campaigns, we found no evidence to support the claim that Romney — while he was still running Bain Capital — shipped American jobs overseas.
On July 2, Kessler wrote, “The actual article, in fact, does not say that transfers of U.S. jobs took place while Romney ran the private equity firm of Bain Capital.” However, Kessler declined award any Pinocchios, because “this debate involves an interpretation of a Post article.” He also declined to comment on what the Post story did say, writing, “The Fact Checker does not check the facts in the reporting of Washington Post writers or columnists.”