President Obama and Mitt Romney are locked in a battle over who is better equipped to right the flailing economy. Obama's re-election campaign has blasted Romney's record at private-equity firm Bain Capital to paint the Republican as a corporate raider who destroyed jobs in search of profit. And in a surprise Thursday campaign stop, Romney used a shuttered factory of solar energy company Solyndra, which collapsed despite a $535 million federal loan, to drive home his message that Obama has squandered taxpayer money and failed to create jobs. Whose line of attack will resonate more with voters?
Romney wins this fight hands down: This is a no-brainer, says Jim Geraghty at National Review. "Barack Obama's performance record with your money at Solyndra: 100 percent loss." And Romney at Bain? He turned a profit with his investors' money 70 percent of the time. It's no contest: Romney is the candidate to trust on financial matters.
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No way. This comparison will backfire on Romney: Republicans will regret "asking voters to compare Romney's vulture capitalism to Solyndra," says Molly Redden at The New Republic. Yes, Obama made "risky bets" like Mitt's ... but Obama's stimulus spending aimed to create jobs; Romney passed out pink slips to line his own pockets, and those of his investors.
Neither side emerges from this unscathed: Solyndra is "an effective campaign cudgel," says Sam Stein at The Huffington Post, and can be used to portray Obama as wasteful. Still, Romney risks inviting a backlash like the one Obama has faced over his Bain attacks. For one thing, Romney's own 2008 platform called for investing in the same kind of clean energy. Also, as governor of Massachusetts Romney doled out loans to emerging technology companies. What happened to Romney's public equity investments? Some of those firms, like Solyndra, went bankrupt.
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