Romney Dodges Questions About Bain Legacy at Debate

GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.<a href="http://mjcdn.motherjones.com/preset_16/mitt-romney-world-affairs-council-philadelphia.jpg">Mitt Romney</a>/Flickr


If nothing else, Mitt Romney came prepared to Tuesday’s GOP presidential debate. While his top rival Rick Perry seemed only semi-alert (perhaps he needs more sleep?), Romney was more than up to the task of responding to a steady stream of jabs from the field’s also-rans. He told Herman Cain that sometimes short and simple plans are “inadequate” when the Georgia businessman asked Romney to recite his economic plan from memory.* And when former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman challenged Romney on his record at the private equity firm Bain Capital, stating (accurately) that Romney was not a job creator, he fought back. Hard.

Here’s what Huntsman asked: “Some might see you because of your past employment with Bain Capital as more of a financial engineer, somebody who breaks down businesses, destroys jobs, as opposed to creating jobs and opportunity, leveraging up, spinning off, enriching shareholders. Since you were number 47 as governor of the state of Massachusetts—where we were number one for example—and the whole discussion around this campaign is going to be job creation, how can you win that debate given your background?” Romney had been asked a variation of the question at previous debates, but this time he came prepared with specifics:

Well, my background is quite different than you describe, Jon.  (Chuckles.)  So the way I’ll win it is by telling people an accurate rendition of what I’ve done in my life. And fortunately, people in New Hampshire, living next door, have a pretty good sense of that.  They understand that in the business I was in, we didn’t take things apart and cut them off and sell them off. We—we instead helped start businesses. And they know some of the names. We started Staples, we started the Sports Authority, we started Bright Horizons children centers. Heck, we even started a steel mill in a farm field in Indiana.  And that steel mill operates today and employs a lot of people. So we began businesses.

None of this really changes the bottom line, which is that when Romney ran Bain he was responsible for a lot of people losing their jobs. But at least from a political standpoint, Romney was able to diffuse the line of attack. And that wasn’t the only sign that Romney was playing at a higher level than the rest of the field: Given the chance to ask a question of his own to any other candidate at the table, he wisely chose to lob a softball at Michele Bachmann, who poses virtually no threat to his own candidacy but could help derail Perry in Iowa.

*This really happened.

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate