Mitt Romney is conniving. Mitt Romney is heartless. Mitt Romney is a “vampire.”
That’s the angle that President Barack Obama is using in his campaign for re-election against Romney, the presumed Republican candidate. Across the country, the president’s people are targeting Romney’s old venture capital firm, Bain Capital, and painting him and the company as corporate vultures that prey on middle-class workers.
And the theme of Obama’s attacks extends to Colorado Springs, to a manufacturing plant here that was bought and then shuttered by Bain 12 years ago. The deal wound up costing 275 workers their jobs.
In late 1997, Bain purchased a local circuit board manufacturing plant through a company called Dynamic Details, Inc., in which Bain had a controlling interest. At the time, a spokesman for the plant said that Bain was investing $50 million in the local company, to expand its operations.
The move was supposed to create 450 jobs by the year 2000. The opposite happened. Dynamic, which now calls itself DDi, announced in the first week of the new millennium that it would close the local plant, leaving 275 employees without jobs.
The Obama campaign says that’s typical of how Bain Capital operates, and is symbolic of Romney’s profit-at-all-costs style of business.
“The values Romney brought to Bain are the same he’d bring to the White House,” said Michael Amodeo, Colorado Communications Director for the Obama campaign.
The Romney campaign and Bain Capital dismissed the attacks, and said the circumstances in Colorado Springs 12 years ago were neither of their faults.
Romney’s campaign pointed out that the governor had stepped down as head of Bain in 1999, to run the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, well before the Colorado Springs plant shut down.
Still, the Obama campaign has run the TV ad throughout Colorado labeling Romney a vampire. It also ran in four other swing states — Iowa, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Sarah Pompei, regional spokeswoman for Romney, said in a statement, “We welcome the Obama campaign’s attempt to pivot back to jobs and a discussion of their failed record.
“Mitt Romney helped create more jobs in his private sector experience and more jobs as Governor of Massachusetts than President Obama has for the entire nation,” the statement read.
A spokesman for Bain said the plant closure was the result of hard economic times.
The company was “forced to consolidate operations” because Asian companies began making similar parts cheaper, and DDi’s clientele shrank.
“We understand that in a political campaign our exemplary 28-year record will be distorted,” read an email from the Bain spokesman. “We are extremely proud of our employees and management teams, who have grown revenues in over 80 percent of our 350 companies.”
Many of the Colorado Springs plant’s 275 employees got jobs at other DDi facilities or were offered severance packages by the company, according to Bain.
In January, the non-partisan group FactCheck.org took a look at Romney’s involvement with Bain and DDi, after an attack video was released by then-candidate Newt Gingrich, who tried to portray Romney as a corporate leech.
FactCheck noted that though Romney left Bain 13 years ago, he still earns millions of dollars a year from them, under a retirement agreement he got. Romney retained personal shares of DDi until 2001, when he sold them for $4.1 million, according to FactCheck.
Bain did make almost $100 million by selling off stock in DDi in the year following the Colorado Springs plant’s closing, according to FactCheck. But it also found that Romney had nothing to do with layoffs in Colorado Springs or at any of DDi’s other operations.
That, however, is not the point, according to the Obama campaign.
“This is about whether the lessons Romney drew from his time as a buy-out specialist are what we want in our President,” Amodeo said in his statement. “It is clear that Romney’s goal was not to create jobs but create wealth for a handful of investors.”
DDi is still alive, and has offices around the country, including one in Denver.