Obama Ad Blasts Romney's Time At Bain Capital

The Obama re-election committee on Monday released a two-minute ad taking aim at Republican rival Mitt Romney's record at the private equity firm Bain Capital. The ad challenges Romney's claim that his business experience qualifies him to turn the economy around.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It didn't take long after the JPMorgan news broke for President Obama's campaign to seize an opportunity. A campaign ad rips Mitt Romney for his tenure at the head of a private equity firm.

Here's NPR's Mara Liasson.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: The ad is a two-minute trial balloon airing for just one day in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Iowa and Colorado. It goes after Romney's central claim that his business experience qualifies him to turn the American economy around. The ad portrays Romney as a heartless buyout artist who piled up companies with debt, enriched investors, then let the companies go bankrupt. It features workers laid off from GST Steel, which Romney's company, Bain Capital, bought in 1993.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Those guys were all rich. They all have more money than they'll ever spend, yet they didn't have the money to take care of the very people that made the money for them.

LIASSON: Stephanie Cutter, of the Obama campaign, says Romney's policies would benefit the rich, and leave the middle-class workers behind.

STEPHANIE CUTTER: This is about the values Romney lived by, and the values he's promising to live by as the president.

LIASSON: Cutter said the issue is not the private equity industry as a whole. Indeed, Mr. Obama attended a fundraiser last night at the home of a top executive at the world's largest private equity firm.

The Obama ad, however, got some unexpected criticism from a former Obama economic adviser, Steve Rattner, who called the ad unfair.

STEVEN RATTNER: Bain Capital's responsibility was not to create 100,000 jobs. It was to make profits for its investors. So yeah, I do think, to pick out an example of somebody who lost their job - unfortunately, this is part of capitalism; this is part of life.

LIASSON: The Romney campaign countered with a Web video featuring positive testimonials from workers at another steel company, SDI, that Romney and Bain Capital owned for about five years in the 1990s.

Mara Liasson, NPR News, Washington.

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