President Obama's campaign has signaled that it considers Bain Capital, the controversial private equity fund founded by Mitt Romney, fair game for hard-hitting attacks all the way through November. And while an arguably wounded Romney has received support from unexpected quarters, including some high-profile Obama allies, his own campaign "has yet to shape a playbook to defend" his business record, which constitutes the "core of his presidential candidacy," says Steve Peoples of the Associated Press. As the campaign heats up, Romney is coming under increasing pressure to craft a reliable defense strategy. What should he do?
Romney has to actively paint Bain more favorably: "Romney's challenge will be to show Bain in a good light," says Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report. Obama will keep attacking Bain as a profit-hungry buyout company that fires workers left and right, and Romney as a "heartless corporate raider." Romney must start showcasing "companies such as Staples, where Bain's work has led to tens of thousands of jobs." It's not enough to brush off Obama's attacks. Romney will "have to make the case Bain that has created far more jobs than it has lost."
"Mitt Romney can't afford to lose Obama's bain game"
And he needs a more consistent message: Romney has let "Democrats — led by Obama — to do most of the talking," says Peoples. Meanwhile, his campaign has tried several defenses, calling Obama's attacks "a simple distraction, an affront to free markets, an attempt to divide the nation, a misreading of the firm's success." That inconsistency is problematic. It's time to pick a defense and stick with it.
"Romney's playbook on Bain unclear as attacks grow"
Actually, Romney should just ignore the attacks: The Republican's time at Bain is a "remarkable success story," and "most Americans would probably have trouble buying the notion that investing in start-ups and improving corporate efficiency to maximize profits are bad things," says Dan Turner at the Los Angeles Times. Obama is clearly just hoping that "Democrats and independents will send a little of their rage at Wall Street in Romney's direction." But the connection is strained, and the president's Bain attacks, to date, have been "misleading and inconsequential." Why should Romney pay these attacks any mind?
"Obama campaign's Bain attacks are best ignored"