How will Romney respond? The Romney campaign has given some broad hints lately. First, the campaign has carefully scrutinized Romney's entire record at Bain and believes it is a strongly positive one overall. But that is the big picture -- there are individual instances in which Bain investments failed. Given that, look for the Romney campaign and its surrogates to counterattack by focusing on an instance in which Barack Obama, in essence, took over a company and laid people off in an effort to save the larger enterprise.As crazy as that argument sounds, York may very well be right. In fact, earlier this year, it's exactly the case that Romney himself made:
That was, of course, the auto bailouts, and while Obama often cites his success in "saving" the car industry, few remember today how many (non-union) workers lost their jobs in the Obama administration's handling of the matter.
"In the general election, I'll be pointing out that the president took the reins of General Motors and Chrysler, closed factories, closed dealerships, laid off thousands and thousands of workers. He did it to try to save the business," Romney said on CBS's "This Morning."As Greg Sargent points out, this is a really strange argument for Romney to make: His goal was profit, not job creation. That's not inherently bad; Romney was a private citizen. But it's not at all like what Obama did, which was try to save an industry that had been crippled thanks to a private sector run amok.
"We also had the occasion to do things that are tough to try to save a business," Romney said. "We started a number of businesses, invested in many others and, overall, created tens of thousands of jobs."
The biggest problem with Romney's counterattack, however, is that while everybody agrees that saving the auto industry was a good thing—hell, Romney himself is even trying to take credit for it—nobody in their right mind thinks it was good for the economy when Mitt Romney and Bain Capital made millions of dollars while putting GST Steel out of business. People don't have a problem with successful businessmen: They just don't like it when somebody like Mitt Romney makes huge profits while destroying companies.
To put it simply: The auto industry is still here, GST Steel isn't. Mitt Romney got rich from what he did, President Obama didn't. That's not a contrast that works well for Mitt Romney. And even if it weren't such a bad contrast, even if the core analogy that Romney is trying to make actually held up to scrutiny, he'd still be saying that President Obama did the right thing by saving the American auto industry. And that would raise another question: If Mitt Romney thinks President Obama is doing such a good job, why is he running the first place?