N2K Presidential Race: Mitt Romney Has Seen This Ad Before

National Journal Staff

Democrats have gone after Mitt Romney’s business record twice before. Once it worked, once it didn’t.

As the country was crawling out of recession in 1994, Sen. Edward Kennedy ran ads featuring workers laid off by an Indiana factory purchased by Romney’s firm, Bain Capital. Those ads would look extremely familiar to modern-day television viewers.

In 2002, with the country in uproar over Enron and Tyco and Dennis Kozlowski’s vodka-micturating ice sculptures, Massachusetts Treasurer Shannon O’Brien refined the argument, scolding, “There’s a mess in corporate America, and its name is Mitt Romney.”

O’Brien’s line of attack in the gubenatorial race didn’t work. Kennedy’s, salted with some quickly recanted Mormon-baiting, did in bid to hold his long-time seat.

President Obama’s new ad is an echo of Kennedy’s, right down to the aggrieved Midwesterners, allowing those ostensibly harmed at the altar of Romney’s profit-emphasis to make the argument against the Republican.

The gamble, that voters will not judge the ads as anticapitalist propaganda, has clear payoffs, or else Romney would have been a U.S. senator. But it’s also got downsides, or he would have never escaped the private sector.  

— Jim O'Sullivan


Obama Barnard Address a Political Speech
[National Journal, 5/14/12] As George Condon writes, Obama's commencement address will not be remembered as one of his greatest -- it was merely a reminder of his political advantages with the group to which he spoke: young women.

Romney Edges Obama in Panel-Back Survey
[National Journal, 5/15/12] Gay marriage did play a slight role in this poll, with most saying the candidates' positions wouldn't weigh into their calculations on voting day, but slightly more Americans saying Romney's position makes them more likely to vote for him.

Obama’s Wall Street Problem  
[Politico, 5/14/12] The stunning $2 billion trading loss at JPMorgan Chase highlights a central problem in Obama’s case for a second term: Four years after the financial crisis nearly brought the nation to its knees, very little appears to have changed.

In Commencement Speech Face-Off, Obama The Winner
[National Journal, 5/14/12] Both Obama and Romney have given commencement speeches over the past few days, but the difference in tone between the two speeches indicates just how comfortable Obama is with his base, compared to Romney's address to the GOP base he still has yet to woo.

Obama Ad to Attack Romney on Bain Years  
[National Journal, 5/14/12] A new ad criticizing Romney’s years as the leader of a private -equity firm is set to air in five battleground states starting on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. The two-minute long ad by the Obama campaign focuses on the fate of a steel mill in Kansas City, Mo.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story, based on Associated Press reporting, misidentified the day on which the ad would be airing. The ad will reportedly air Wednesday.

Romney Ad Pushes Back on Obama Attacks NEW!
[National Journal, 5/15/12] The Romney campaign on Monday released a new web ad, titled "American Dream," that attempts to portray him as the savior of small business — a nearly direct response to an attack ad released by the Obama campaign earlier in the day.

Newsweek Cover Labels Obama ‘The First Gay President’
[The Daily Beast, 5/13/12] The May 21 cover of Newsweek declares Obama the nation’s “first gay president,”  with an image of the president staring off into space with a rainbow halo over his head. The story was written by The Daily Beast's Andrew Sullivan, who is gay, and describes bursting into tears during the interview last week in which Obama supported gay marriage.

JPMorgan Goof Becoming Campaign Issue  
[Associated Press, 5/14/12] The Wall Street firm’s $2 billion-plus trading blunder is reverberating on the presidential campaign trail by rekindling calls for tighter oversight of the nation's biggest financial institutions. White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday said the trading misfire was a reminder of why controls shouldn't be undermined.

Portman Defends Romney: ‘That is Capitalism’
[BuzzFeed, 5/14/12] As Romney faces new attacks from the Obama camp on his time at Bain Capital, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, came to the presumptive GOP nominee’s defense today. Portman offered a forceful defense of Romney’s economic record, arguing that he was simply engaged in free-market capitalism. 

Big-Hearted Mitt
[The Daily, 5/13/12] Tales of long hours spent with grieving families, financial assistance to the needy, and timely help given to strangers abound in the adult life of Romney. But these stories – many of which are connected to his work as a Mormon bishop – are absent from the campaign trail.

Weary Warriors Favor Obama
[Reuters, 5/13/12] Many soldiers, fatigued after more than a decade of war, are not attracted to the hawkish rhetoric coming from the GOP this election season. Although there was passion for the missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, the loss of life and the cost of war have drawn some veterans to the president’s side.

Mitt’s Mantra: Avoid McCain’s Mistakes
[Politico, 5/14/12] Romney and his top aides are building a strategy around what they consider John McCain’s disastrously run 2008 campaign: Whatever McCain did, do the opposite.

After Obama’s Decision on Marriage, a Call to Pastors
[New York Times, 5/13/12] In the hours following Obama’s politically charged announcement of his personal support for gay marriage on Wednesday, the president’s team embarked on a quiet campaign to contain the possible damage among religious leaders and voters. But a vocal few ministers made it clear that the president’s stand might make it difficult for them to support his reelection.

Ron Paul Suspends Active Campaigning
[National Journal, 5/14/12] Citing low funds, Paul announced today that he will not continue to campaign on the road, but he's still in the race, working to amass delegates to send to the Republican National Convention.

Changing Times NEW!
[National Journal, 5/15/12] A memo from a very prominent and well-respected Republican pollster suggesting that his party should treat the issue with considerably more caution than it has in the past may have been the most surprising thing to come out of Obama's announcement last week of his support of gay marriage.

Obama Makes Case for Wall Street Reform NEW!
[National Journal, 5/15/12] Obama said in an interview with The View to be aired tomorrow morning that he believes JPMorgan Chase's loss of $2 billion is evidence of why financial regulatory reform is needed.

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