PolitiFact's Adair Discusses Accuracy Of Romney Film
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Mitt Romney is getting blasted in a new 28-minute film. It's distributed by a super PAC that supports Newt Gingrich. Independent fact-checkers have found it rife with inaccuracies. And today, in Florida, Gingrich called on the super PAC to either remove the inaccuracies or pull the film off the air and off the Internet.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
We're going to talk about some of those inaccuracies now. The film is called "King of Bain," Bain being Bain Capital, the private equity firm that Romney led in the 1980s and '90s.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "KING OF BAIN")
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: For tens of thousands of Americans, the suffering began when Mitt Romney came to town.
BLOCK: The movie is funded by a super PAC called Winning Our Future. Bill Adair is editor of the nonpartisan fact-checking site PolitiFact, and he joins me in the studio to talk about the film. And, Bill, a lot of the film focuses on a number of companies that Bain Capital took over and what happened after. Explain what the film says.
BILL ADAIR: What it says, basically, is that Romney profited while thousands of people lost their jobs and it uses very stark, sort of classic political propaganda techniques claiming that Romney walked away with tens of millions of dollars.
BLOCK: OK. Well, one of the companies that the movie focuses on is the chain store KB Toys. Let's listen to a part of the film.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "KING OF BAIN")
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Romney and Bain bought the 80 year old company in 2000, loaded KB Toys with millions in debt, then used the money to repurchase Bain's stock. The debt was too staggering. By 2004, 365 stores had closed.
BLOCK: OK. Bill Adair, PolitiFact has been looking into the claims about KB Toys. What'd you find?
ADAIR: Well, the implication here is that Romney and Bain Capital drove KB Toys into bankruptcy by loading it up with debt and we've rated that claim mostly false. The truth about KB Toys was it was in trouble before Bain bought it and it was suffering because it was a chain of stores in shopping malls at a time when the whole trend in the industry was toward big retailers like Wal-Mart and Target. So KB Toys was having a really difficult time competing and was in trouble when Bain got it.
BLOCK: Another interesting point that comes up here, the movie says Romney and Bain bought the company. Well, a lot of these deals that the movie talks about were actually after Mitt Romney had left as the head of Bain Capital, but he did, according to the New York Times reporting, still have a financial interest. He was getting a share of the profits, based on his retirement agreement with the company.
ADAIR: And, indeed, it is incorrect to say it the way they do, that Romney and Bain Capital drove KB Toys into bankruptcy because Romney left in 1999, Bain got involved with KB Toys in 2000. So although he continued to get money from the firm, he was not making these management decisions, as far as anyone knows.
Now, he did, though, get some money from the investments in this company and others and to the extent that they paid off, Romney benefited.
BLOCK: A couple of other claims in the film that you've been truth-squading, they have to do with Mitt Romney's homes. One claim is that he's planning to bulldoze a $12 million, 3,000 square foot home near San Diego and replace it with an 11,000 square foot home. Another claim made by a laid off worker is that he has 15 homes. What'd you find?
ADAIR: Well, in the case of the home in San Diego, they pretty much get that accurate. It's - indeed, those are Romney's plans, so we've rated that mostly true. What kept it from being fully true was the plans seem to be on hold while Romney waits to see if he becomes president.
As to the claim made in the film that he has 15 homes, of course, we know he's very wealthy. Is he that wealthy? In fact, when we looked at public records, we could find only three homes: one in New Hampshire, the one in California and one in Massachusetts. The 15 seems to be based on various properties that he has lived in over the years, so we rated that claim false on our truth-o-meter.
BLOCK: OK. Bill Adair, thanks for coming in.
ADAIR: Thanks for having me.
BLOCK: Bill Adair is editor of the nonpartisan website PolitiFact.com.
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