CRAIG, Colo. — Faced with a barrage of attacks on his record at Bain Capital that could chip away at his support among white blue collar workers, Mitt Romney kicked off a Western swing in coal mining community.
At a rally here, where people donned baseball caps that said “Coal=Jobs” and workers from Twenty Mile Coal got the morning off to hear Romney, the former Massachusetts governor said that Obama has made it harder to get coal out of the ground, and failed to deliver on a new “green economy,” in part backed by the stimulus package.
“You see he said he was going to create some 5 million green energy jobs,” Romney told a crowd of about 1,000 people. “Have you seen those around here anywhere?”
Yet Romney admitted that in some ways the economy overall is improving — in this small Colorado town, there has been some job growth, including expanded hiring of coal miners.
“Now his campaign these days is trying to find a twig to hang onto, some little excuse that they grab and say, well things are getting a little better aren’t they. And the answer is yes, things are getting a little better in a lot of places in this country,” Romney said. “But it’s not thanks to his policies, it’s in spite of his policies.”
Romney said that the stimulus package failed to spur the private sector, instead it fueled government growth.
In focusing on the stimulus package, Romney and his allies are seeking to turn the attacks on Bain against President Obama, who has insisted that Romney’s record in private equity doesn’t qualify him for the White House.
In Web ads, Democrats have focused on companies that failed and laid off workers after Bain Capital took them over, a strategy that some Democrats criticized even as Obama insisted that Romney’s Bain years are central to understanding his approach to the economy and government.
But the Romney campaign shot back Tuesday, releasing a Web ad called “Not Even Half,” that looks at specific stimulus projects that failed and laid off workers after receiving government assistance.
The ad points to SunPower, a San Jose solar panel company that got a $1.2 billion loan, and last year lost half a billion dollars and laid of scores of workers.
With private equity in the spotlight, Romney allies have reinforced the idea of failed government spending, floating the phrase “public equity” as a counterattack in a new American Crossroads ad that dubs the Obama the “Public Equity President” and points to companies that got stimulus funds and later failed, echoing the Romney campaign ad.
“As a public equity investor, President Obama wasted billions of taxpayer money on companies with flawed business plans, which the government knew were risky investments, and which ended up costing thousands of jobs,” according to a statement by Jonathan Collegio Communications Director for American Crossroads. “If President Obama wants to attack private equity, that’s fine — but let’s open up his failed record as a public equity investor, where jobs were lost and taxpayers were left holding the bag.”
Romney, who had faced quiet criticism from Republicans who want him to better articulate his own policies and flesh out and make plain his record at Bain, had sharp language for Democrats.
“Government sees small business and big business as the enemy, we’re not the enemy. Some of these liberals say they like a strong economy, but then they act l ike they don’t like business, and the economy is nothing but the collection of all of our businesses together,” he said. “I want our government to support small business, middle size business, big business. I want jobs, I want government that is an ally of business not an enemy of business.”