President Obama hasn't been able to convince Americans he's doing a better job on the economy, but he has managed to convince some of them that Mitt Romney did bad things at Bain Capital. Like a Wall Street Journal poll showed in late June, a new ABC News/ Washington Post poll shows ads from the Obama campaign and his Super PAC appear to be working, because people who live in swing states -- and therefore are subjected to tons of political ads -- are more likely to see Romney's business career negatively. Americans as a whole are split on Bain: 23 percent see it as a reason to vote against Romney, while 24 percent see it as a reason to vote for him. But in toss-up states, 16 percent say Bain is a reason to support Romney, while 32 percent say it's a reason to oppose him. More people have an opinion on Romney's business record, too. In February, 36 percent said Romney cut jobs while 32 percent said he created them. Now 40 percent say he cut them and 36 percent say he created them.
But so what? Even in swing states, 49 percent say Romney's Bain record isn't a significant issue in their vote, so it doesn't matter, right? Well, something is making people hesitant to say they're definitely voting for Romney. Even though most Americans say the economy is "extremely important issue" in their presidential vote this year, and most disapprove of how President Obama is handling the economy, and more think Mitt Romney would do a better job handling it --- even with all that, Romney is still only tied with Obama, at 47 percent each.
A July 4 Wall Street Journal editorial suggested Romney's top aides should be "fired for malpractice" if they don't respond to Obama's "assault on Mr. Romney as a job outsourcer with foreign bank accounts," including ads calling Romney an "outsourcing pioneer." The Journal is not alone in taking the attacks seriously. Republicans appearing on cable news to explain the campaign's talking points will now call the Bain attacks "lies," BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins reported Monday. The same day, Romney told an Iowa radio station that when it comes to his offshore investments, "There's nothing hidden there." He explained, "I don’t manage them. I don’t even know where they are… That trustee follows all U.S. laws. All the taxes are paid, as appropriate."
And it looks like more defenders of Bain are coming. Romney's team created a Web video featuring a former vice president of GST Steel, a company Bain took over and later went bankrupt, saying Bain wasn't a "vampire" but a company offering GST a "blood transfusion." For some reason, though, Romney's campaign took down the ad, but maybe we'll see it again soon. And on Monday, N. Scott Jones wrote an op-ed for The Boston Herald explaining that we've got it all wrong about Bain's role in another firm that went bankrupt after a Bain investment, Ampad. He says he knows because he saw it all:
For the record, I was the public relations consultant responsible for the content, planning and execution of communications related to the January 2005 reorganization of Ampad and the closing of its flagship manufacturing facility in Holyoke. I was there. Romney had left Bain more than five years earlier. He had no role, responsibility or input in the events that occurred. Yet these events continue to be cited by the Obama camp, with either the complicity of, or disinterest in accuracy by, many news outlets. Such lack of precision in the reporting of other Bain examples pervades.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.