President Obama's campaign launched a new television ad Monday morning that goes straight at Republican Mitt Romney's chief credential, business experience, attacking him as a greedy corporate executive who killed jobs and was indifferent to the suffering of workers.
The two-minute TV commercial uses the example of GST Steel, a Kansas City steel mill that was purchased by Bain Capital, Romney's former private equity firm, then restructured and ultimately closed, costing 750 jobs. It features former workers who describe the devastation and the lost pension benefits.
"It was like a vampire," former GST Steel worker Joe Cobb said. "They came in and sucked the life out of us."
Andrea Saul, spokeswoman for Romney, said the campaign welcomed "the Obama campaign's attempt to pivot back to jobs and their failed record."
She said that the bankruptcy of GST Steel and the layoffs occurred two years after Romney had stopped working at Bain, in 1999. (Romney left to manage the Salt Lake Olympics, but he was listed as CEO of the firm at the time of the bankruptcy and received in come from his ownership stake in Bain.)
Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager for Obama, said in a conference call with reporters that it did not matter whether Romney was actively involved in Bain decisions that affected the steel company.
"He set this in motion," Cutter said. "It was his structure that was put in place, and he....was still making profits off this deal, and continues to profit off of Bain Capital today," she said. "So I do think it’s absolutely on the table as an indication of Romney’s values."
The ad is running in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia and Colorado. Republican media buyers said that the Obama campaign had only put up $83,000 for air time for the spot.
The ad was merely the beginning of a broad assault on Romney's career in private equity, including a web site.