The candidate: Barack Obama
The ad: In a series of ads airing in Virginia, Ohio, and Iowa, the Obama campaign warns voters that Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital demonstrates that he's an aggressive outsourcer of jobs. The two spots airing in Virginia and Iowa reference a bombshell Washington Post article that labels companies owned by the private equity firm, which Romney founded and used to run, "pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components." A narrator in one of Obama's ads asks darkly: "Does Virginia really want an outsourcer-in-chief in the White House?" The companion Ohio clip riffs on a recent Romney ad proclaiming that Mitt would stand up to China in his first 100 days in office. "But would he?" the narrator asks. "Romney's never stood up to China. All he's done is send them our jobs."
The ad buy: The amount of the ad buy has yet to be publicly released by the Obama campaign.
The strategy: By continuing to question Mitt's "claim that he will challenge China on behalf of U.S. workers," says Peter Nicholas at The Wall Street Journal, Team Obama is attempting to show that "Romney cannot be trusted to protect the interests of a stressed American middle class." And that's a "message that will figure heavily into campaign efforts in manufacturing states that are also top electoral prizes," says Michael A. Memoli at the Los Angeles Times.
The reaction: This is a brilliant line of attack, says Democratic strategist Bill Buck at CBS Houston. "Outsourcing is a word that strikes fear in workers," and Obama is making clear that "Romney made millions outsourcing jobs at Bain Capital." But the funny thing is, says Rick Newman at U.S. News, "Romney's outsourcing expertise could make him a strong president." As a businessman, he exploited some U.S. companies' weaknesses by outsourcing jobs. But as president, he could use his skill at IDing such vulnerabilities to fix the U.S. economy. Imagine "if an army battalion preparing for battle learned from a spy that the enemy had identified a weak spot in its formation." They "would plug the hole immediately, and become stronger." Romney could use his knowledge of outsourcing the same way.
The fallout: Romney's campaign condemned the Post's report on Bain's outsourcing record, calling it a "fundamentally flawed story that does not differentiate between domestic outsourcing versus offshoring." A Romney spokesperson added, "If President Obama had even half of Mitt Romney's record on jobs, he'd be running on it." Romney campaign officials demanded a meeting with the Post's top editors, asking that the venerable newspaper retract the story. After the meeting, Post spokesman Kris Coratti announced that Team Romney's request for a retraction had been denied, and that "we are very confident in our reporting."
Watch the Obama ad that's airing in Virginia: