“He wanted to have this conversation,” Jim Burn, chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, said of Romney, the likely GOP nominee. “We’re going to have it. There should be no hesitation or equivocation.”
In Nevada, one Democrat said voters direct most of the blame for the state’s persistently high unemployment and foreclosure rates at Wall Street, describing it as the “bogeyman” of the election. In Ohio, party leaders said a large blue-collar population is receptive to evidence that Romney focused more on profits than people. Even in New Hampshire, where unemployment, at 5 percent, is far lower than in the hardest-hit states, Raymond Buckley, the state Democratic chairman, said voters blame the “reckless behavior” of investors such as Romney for the declining fortunes of their friends and family elsewhere.
“Look at Nevada,” said Roberta Lange, the Democratic Party chairwoman there. “Obama is speaking to the things that are important to us. The foreclosure market. Jobs. Romney has been absent from Nevada.”
But in other battleground states — including Virginia and Colorado — officials in both parties said there may be a risk of alienating business-minded independents, even if to many Democrats the risks are worth it. Republicans in particular welcomed the debate over Bain. Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) said Obama may intend for the Bain argument to “galvanize his base.”
“But I think overall those policies aren’t resonating particularly well with independents,” McDonnell said.
Some Democrats in Virginia expressed concern that voters in the business-oriented suburbs around Washington would not coalesce around attacks on Bain. Sen. Mark R. Warner, a former cellphone entrepreneur, said in an interview that Bain is “a valid issue and debate” but also a company that “did a good job for their investors.” One prominent Virginia Democrat who requested anonymity to speak candidly said the Bain strategy is “risky” because it feeds an existing narrative among business leaders that the Obama administration is not friendly to their interests.
Such divergent observations suggest a geographic and economic divide over how Bain might play with voters.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat and a successful restaurateur, said he made a point of telling Obama stories during his recent visit about the local entrepreneurial spirit. Hickenlooper said he was pleased that Obama also wove some of those entrepreneurial stories into his public remarks that day. He is among those who support the president’s message about Bain but concede that they do not know whether it will work.