Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Obama on Romney

For President Barack Obama's re-election team, it's sort of like threading a needle. While trying to define Republican Mitt Romney as an insensitive job-killer during his time as a private equity executive, the Obama campaign also is raising money from private equity executives on Wall Street - and hoping voters don't see that as hypocritical. The Obama campaign's political dexterity was evident on Monday, as it released a blistering video ad recounting how Romney's Bain Capital laid off 750 workers from a steel mill in Missouri. Hours later, the campaign raked in about $2 million at a Manhattan fundraiser held by Tony James, president of the Blackstone Group, a huge private equity firm. The Blackstone Group had been on the Obama campaign's radar before - as a target for criticism. Last month, the campaign identified a Blackstone partner, Paul Schorr, as one of "eight wealthy individuals" who donated to Romney's campaign after "betting against America" in "less-than-reputable" deals that led to outsourcing and layoffs. So on Tuesday at the White House, Obama spokesman Jay Carney faced several questions about whether the president's campaign was setting a double standard in dealing with Wall Street, where some executives see Obama as anti-business. Carney rejected the notion that Obama's team, in criticizing Romney and Republican donors in private equity, had been critical only of executives who had not contributed to Obama's campaign and that only those who support the president were "totally kosher," in the words of ABC's Jake Tapper. Carney said that Obama's campaign was being critical of individuals, not an industry. "There is absolutely a place for a vibrant and successful financial sector ... that includes private equity," Carney said. NOT 'AGAINST PRIVATE EQUITY' Carney's words were echoed by Bill Burton, who heads Priorities USA Action, a pro-Obama "Super PAC" that is spending $4 million to put out its own version of the anti-Romney ad released by Obama's campaign. "The president isn't running against the private equity industry, he is running against Mitt Romney," Burton said. "Our ads ask whether the decisions Mitt Romney made creating incredible wealth for himself and his partners would make him a good president of the United States." Not surprisingly, conservatives do not see it that way. The Wall Street Journal published an editorial on Tuesday that chided Obama for attacking Romney's private equity work and then fundraising on Wall Street the same day. The newspaper, an influential voice in conservative politics, said that those at the fundraiser, "many from the private equity world, paid $35,800 a head for the privilege of dining with the president who purports to loathe Wall Street when he isn't asking its greedy denizens to redistribute their wealth to his campaign."

No comments: