Opinion: Bill Clinton and Cory Booker are Right About Bain

Monday, June 04, 2012 - 11:26 AM

Newark Mayor Cory Booker and former President Bill Clinton both have made some off-message remarks in the last several weeks. They both hold to the claim that Obama will win the upcoming election, but they're expressing reservations a lot of people have over Obama's attacks on Mitt Romney's time at Bain Capital.

At first glance, it does seem like a target ripe for the picking. There are few things that represent capitalism better than a pool of money headed up by people who then buy businesses — many of them struggling — and then figure out a way to make a lot of money out of those investments. In left wing la-la land, this is an inherently evil undertaking — an illustration of the wrongs brought upon us by our 1% overlords.

But if you take those hyper-partisan blinders off, and look at Romney's actual history at Bain, you see that it's not nearly the sort of target the Obama campaign should be focusing on. There were quite a few more successes than failures, and a heck of a lot more jobs were created than lost. The Democrats are hoping that people just won't spend enough time looking past their talking points. They may be right about that, but even if that's the case, it's not where their focus should be.

Clinton and Booker are making the safer bet in saying Obama will win. It's not as sure-fire of a bet as they'd like to make it out to be, but the odds look to be solidly in his favor from where things stand now.

Real Clear Politics' electoral college map shows Obama leading by 67 electoral votes, a margin that reflects the states leaning or likely going blue over states leaning or likely going red. If he holds the states he's currently leading in, Obama will only need to pull in another 32 electoral votes (about a quarter of the electoral votes in the swing states), while Romney needs to bring down 99 (roughly 75% of the votes left in the swing states).

It's believable that some of those blue states might drop into swing state status; a majority of the swing states might go to Romney, if we keep getting monthly jobs reports like we just did, and a few other flips of the coin and strategic blunders go Romney's way. The Obama campaign is playing right into the hands of the red team by focusing their efforts on their base with this Occupy-Wall-Street-inspired attack on Bain.

Clinton praised Romney's record as a businessman; Booker pointed out that this brand of Bain attack is below the belt, and should be below Obama and company. What team blue should be hearing is this: two national figures that have a great deal of clout with centrists and moderates are giving advice on how to court the deciding swing voters in the deciding states.

Focusing on Bain makes even less sense when you take a look at Romney's official campaign platform. It's not the stuff of right wing Nutterville, as some on the left would make it out to be, but it is very much conservative, and out of touch with what people want As I wrote a few months back, about the economic plan Romney has on his campaign website:

He says he isn't concerned about the poor, and to a degree this is illustrated in a lack of talk from him on issues directly concerning the poor. But there is quite a bit of evidence to suggest that he wasn't being truthful when he said he wasn't concerned about the rich.

There are many reasons campaigns should stop playing so many games and focus more on actual policy — but in this case, it's also the best path towards taking Romney down a few pegs. Romney has the last few years of mediocrity to hammer Obama on. Responding with attacks on Romney for being a successful businessman is not a smart play for Obama. If he wants to tie up his re-election, he ought to start listening to people like Booker and Clinton, two of the best examples one can come up with of Demcrats who know how to speak to those centrist and moderate swing voters.


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Comments [2]

Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

@Nick - You make some good points but I can't agree that Romney and Obama are the same guy. Imagine the nation with the next two Supreme Court justices named by Romney versus the next two justices named by Obama and tell me you really see the same outcome.

The fantasy that most of the 'disappointed in Obama'-types seem to harbor, from my point of view, is based on an incomplete reading of Obama's fundamental character. They wanted to see a liberal. What he is a pragmatic moderate. Once, Obama and the Democrats got Affordable Care passed the Republicans and the Tea Partiers used it to mobilize their voters. The Independents and Democrats slept thru the 2010 election and effectively crushed any hope of rationally progressive government for an entire session of Congress. Don't be disappointed in Obama for his lack of progress. Be disappointed in our own electoral apathy sentencing 15 million to two more years of unemployment and two more years of stagnation in Congress.

If you want to move forward, we have to back Obama.

As regards Bain capital and the concept of 'vulture capitalism' - much of the 'under utilized' capital freed for more productive use by this style investment too often ends up off-shore. It seems to me that Romney never learned the lesson that Henry Ford taught us...Pay you worker enough to buy the products that they make. How many of the products that we can buy at Staples are actually for sale in China?

Jun. 12 2012 04:45 PM
Nick from NJ, Rush Holt District

Can't disagree with you more. And I am upset more people haven't piled onto you about this.

Booker and Clinton are Wall Street darlings. Booker had had a relationship with Wall Street for a while now, remember that most of the business in Newark's downtown section is Wall Street and private equity affiliated. Obama and the Democrats have every right to say "Romney wants to be President because he thinks that Bain Capital is a job creating machine, this is false because..." Just like Obama is going to come after his time as Governor of Mass. And Romney is going to go after Obama on everything. If Romney wants to run as the "Job Creating Bain Capital CEO" then Bain Capital, and its practices are fair game. Clinton also has close ties to Wall Street, and both Booker and Clinton have probably received money from Bain in some way or another.

Here is the problem, Obama and Romney are the same guy. I know there are tiny little issues that may be different, but on the real issues, they are the same. Obama didn't do anything to the Wall Street Criminals that bankrupted this country and defrauded the government (except hire a few of them). He bombs countries that we aren't at war with (Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia), and has escalated this bombing and the secret surveillance state well past what Bush had set up (seems to grow more every month approaching the election). He is most non Transparent President ever, except for when it can venerate his war exploits (middle America must love this!), and his "Socialist Healthcare Law" WAS CREATED BY ROMNEY!!!! So, they are gonna have to go bananas to try and figure out differences, get ready for the crap. Booker is right in that sense, that going after Bain or Jeremiah Wright, disctracts from the real policy, but they don't differ on real policy, so what can they argue about? Obama is going to say that he is tough on Terrorism, a pro-business President that looks out for the little guy, and is focused to bring economic growth back to Main Street (I want to kill myself after writing that!) He is going to say that Romney is a rich, 1%, Wall Street hawk that wants to return wealth back to his greedy slimebucket friends. Romney will say that he is a proven Job Creator (blech) and a tough conservative who believes in moral values (honestly, kill me now), and will open up business without government interference to maximize profit for you! Also, he will repeal that SOCIALIST HEALTH CARE LAW THAT SOME COMMIE THOUGHT OF! NOT HIM! Hahaha, what a crock. I want to eat sleeping pills until after the election, because this is going to be the worst one ever.

Jun. 07 2012 01:13 PM

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