In Iowa yesterday, the Democratic National Committee held an event featuring testimony from a man who was laid off from a company that was restructured by Bain Capital on Mitt Romney’s watch.
“I really feel he didn’t care about the workers there,” said the worker, Randy Johnson, who was fired from American Pad and Paper even as investors raked in huge profits from the arrangement. “It was all about profit before people.”
Here’s what’s key to understand: This is only the first of many such workers we’ll likely hear from as the campaign unfolds.
You can rest assured that Democrats have identified a number of other people who have been laid off by companies restructured by Bain on Romney’s watch, and that they’ll be speaking out in the weeks and months ahead.
Indeed, if Dems get their way, Romney’s layoff victims may play a prominent role in this campaign, helping set the record straight about a central and defining episode in Romney’s career. With Romney arguing that his Bain years proved he understands the engines of job creation — and castigating Obama over high unemployment — Dems are urgently moving to define Romney’s Bain years in the public mind on their terms. They will likely rely on such workers to portray Romney as emblematic of the sort of predatory capitalism that caused the economic meltdown in the first place.
So here’s a question. If Romney posts a strong showing in Iowa, as expected, will the increased media scrutiny on him also translate into increased scrutiny of his claims about his Bain years? The worker who spoke out yesterday was dismissed by the Romney campaign as mere evidence that Obama “and his cronies” are employing a “kill Romney” strategy because they’re afraid to face Romney in a general election, with not a word about the layoffs themselves. How long will that response wash?
What’s more, Romney continues to make assertions about his Bain years that are skating by without challenge. He has now repeatedly claimed that the Bain years ended up creating over 100,000 jobs, even though independent fact checkers have concluded that this is unsubstantiated and that there’s no way of being sure his Bain years led to more jobs than layoffs.
If more laid off workers speak out, in theory it could lead to more media pressure on Romney to back up the Bain storyline he likes to tell.