All year on the stump, Romney has broadly labeled Obama a “crony capitalist,” but aides said the presumptive GOP nominee will deliver the attack to voters in a sharper and more substantive and sustained manner beginning at a Tuesday rally in Pennsylvania.
The overall effort, under the branding “Obama’s Political Payoffs and Middle Class Layoffs,” will highlight alleged administration favoritism toward more than 200 Obama donors. The campaign will push the theme through online videos, appearances by Romney surrogates and messages tailored to battleground states, as well as Spanish-language and other specialty media. Campaign officials said they are considering television advertisements as well.
“If you’re a political donor to Barack Obama, you’re going to do fine, because you’re going to get a payoff. If you’re a middle-class worker, you’re in jeopardy, you’re facing a layoff,” Ed Gillespie, a senior adviser to Romney, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Obama campaign officials see this as a weak line of attack, in part because, they said, Romney played favorites by steering tax breaks to some companies over others as governor of Massachusetts.
“It’s clear that Mitt Romney will do anything to avoid answering serious questions about his tenure as a corporate buyout specialist,” Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith said. “But launching false attacks that only boomerang on his record of cronyism in Massachusetts and the Olympics won’t do it.”
With some prominent Republicans urging Romney to fight back harder against stinging attacks from Obama over his Bain career, the new cronyism offensive is designed to put Romney and his campaign back on the offensive and to force Obama to fight on the politically difficult terrain of the economy.
“We’re turning the page,” one adviser said.
It is unclear how easily Romney will be able to regain his footing in a race that has become consumed by questions surrounding his career at Bain, the private-equity firm he founded and ran, and his unwillingness to share more personal financial information.
In a rare move to defend himself, Romney granted interviews to all five major television news networks Friday night, but he did not put the issue to rest. He has not fully clarified the confusion surrounding his tenure at Bain — specifically the scope of his involvement between 1999 and 2002, when he was running the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City but remained listed as Bain’s chief executive.