Obama strategist David Axelrod: Romney isn't a "job creator"
(CBS News) Obama campaign senior strategist David Axelrod continued the campaign's assault on Mitt Romney's record on Sunday's "Face the Nation," defending attacks on Bain Capital and challenging whether the president's Republican challenger is qualified to be called a "job creator."
"No one's arguing whether Mitt Romney is qualified to be president," Axelrod said of the former governor and private equity firm founder. "What we're arguing is whether he's qualified to call himself a job creator. That's not what he did in his business. That's not the purpose of his business, and it's certainly not what he did in Massachusetts where they had one of the worst economic records in the country."
In particular, Axelrod addressed criticism (some of which has come from Democrats) that the campaign's recent attacks on Romney's record at Bain Capital haven't been effective. On Thursday, former President Bill Clinton said in an interview that Romney's business record was "sterling."
Axelrod denied that Mr. Clinton's comments were approving of Romney as a candidate, telling anchor Bob Schieffer, "What he said was... his business record and the fact that he was a governor qualified him to be president. He went on to say that his economic views would be disastrous for the country. And I agree with him on that."
On the attacks on Bain overall, Axelrod said the question President Obama's campaign is trying to pose for voters is whether Romney's background and ideas are "ones that can move our economy forward."
Axelrod then defended specific ads the campaign has run.
"Take the one about the steel company in Kansas City [GST Steel]. Mitt Romney and his group bought that company; they put $8 million of their own dollars in for a $75 million company, immediately borrowed $125 million. And the next year took $36 million back out of that money for dividends. The company ultimately went bankrupt, workers lost their benefits, creditors lost out, and they walked away with millions of dollars," Axelrod said.
"That may be a successful business strategy for them and it made money for them and their investors, but that is not an economic strategy that is going to rebuild the middle class in this country, that's going to grow our economy in the long run. And that's the point we're making," he added.
This week, the campaign also opened a new line of attack against Romney's record as governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007. Axelrod held a press conference on the steps of the Massachusetts State House on Thursday, but the event was also notable for the Romney campaign supporters and staffers who showed up in an attempt to drown out the Obama campaign's message.
On Sunday Axelrod defended the strategy of speaking out in Boston: "We went up there to make a point about Governor Romney's economic record," he said. "Governor Romney offers himself as a job creator, a kind of economic oracle, and he's saying the same exact things he said 10 years ago when he ran for governor of Massachusetts. And what happened? Massachusetts plunged to 47th in job creation. They lost manufacturing jobs at twice the rate of the country. They grew jobs at one-fifth the rate of the rest of country. It wasn't the record of a job creator. He had the wrong economic philosophy and he failed.
"I was disappointed that they chose to send a bunch of campaign staff to try and drown out the speakers. But you can't drown out the record."
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus also appeared on "Face the Nation" on Sunday, and called Axelrod's press conference a "political stunt."
"That's the height of a political stunt," Priebus said. "What's the purpose of the Chicago clan going to Boston to hold some sort of political stunt. And for... these tough guys from Chicago to cry about it, I just find it laughable."
In addition to Romney, Axelrod also took aim at Congress for not acting on the president's plan for the economy in the wake of a disappointing jobs report on Friday, calling congressional leaders "architects of obstruction."
"What was striking about what happened on Friday was how quick the leaders of Congress were out there wringing their hands. These are the architects of obstruction, and now they're complaining about the pace of the recovery," he said. "They should put down their political hats and join us and help solve these problems."
Despite the attacks, Axelrod also took issue with those who suggest the entire Obama campaign has been negative, saying that despite the media attention on the negative attacks against Bain, "virtually all" of the campaign's ad spending has been positive.
"If you live in the states where our advertising is running, you have seen a steady stream of ads over the last months, talking about the things that have happened over the last three and a half years, talking about all the hard work we've done together as a people to move out of the mess that we were in when the president arrived," he said.
- Kevin Hechtkopf
Kevin Hechtkopf is CBSNews.com's politics editor.Follow on Twitter »
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