President Barack Obama mocked Mitt Romney on Friday as an "outsourcing pioneer" who shipped jobs overseas to places like China and India. Obama's assault borrowed the words of a Washington Post report that Bain Capital, which the former Massachusetts governor founded and ran for 15 years, invested in companies that specialized in hiring low-wage workers abroad to do jobs once done by Americans.
"We do not need an outsourcing pioneer in the Oval Office," Obama told some 3,000 cheering supporters at a rally at Hillsborough Community College's Dale Mabry Campus in Tampa, Fla.
"We need a president who will fight for American jobs and fight for American manufacturing. That's what my plan will do, that's why I'm running for a second term," he said. "Let's stop giving tax breaks to businesses that ship jobs and factories overseas, let's reward companies that create jobs and manufacturing right here in the United States of America."
The Obama campaign hit the same theme in an online ad and in a conference call with top strategist David Axelrod, who warned that Romney would be "outsourcer in chief" if he wins in November. The strategy appeared aimed at courting voters angry at the sputtering economic recovery -- the president's biggest political vulnerability, and the central argument of the former Massachusetts governor's bid for the White House.
In a response to Obama's speech, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul charged that the president was "running a campaign based on distractions, not solutions."
Romney "has a decades-long record of job creation, both in the private sector and as governor, when the unemployment rate in Massachusetts fell to 4.7% on his watch," she said in a statement. "If President Obama had even half of Mitt Romney's record on jobs, he'd be running on it."
The Washington Post noted that Romney has vowed to get American jobs back and take on China — a frequent election-year villain portrayed by politicians of both parties as guilty of unfair competition.
But "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 making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission."