Gibbs: Bain is Romney's "thesis" for president, calls attacks fair

(CBS News) On "Face the Nation," President Obama's senior campaign adviser Robert Gibbs defended the campaign's attacks on Bain Capital, the private equity firm Mitt Romney co-founded and led for more than a decade.

"That is what Mitt Romney is running on," Gibbs hold host Bob Schieffer. "This is a criticism and a good criticism, quite honestly, of Mitt Romney's only thesis for being president of the United States . . . and I think the American people and voters deserve to understand what Mitt Romney means when he says he has the keys to being the economic savior."

The Obama campaign makes the argument that Romney's role at the private equity firm, whose main role is to make money for investors, is not equivalent to creating jobs. To drive home the point, the campaign released two ads in the past two weeks hitting Romney's record at Bain, pointing to two companies - Ampad and GST Steel - that laid-off workers after Bain Capital acquired them.

Host Bob Schieffer queried Gibbs about the tenor of the campaign: "Whatever happened to hope and change?" he asked.

"Bob, there is going to be a choice in this election," Gibbs responded, saying that people will have a "visceral reaction" to Romney's Bain record.

Gibbs added that the Obama campaign is "certainly happy to talk a little bit about Mitt Romney and his record of not creating jobs in virtually every step of his life."

Romney adviser: Obama's policies are "hostile to job creators"

Gibbs also used Ronald Reagan's famous campaign query to voters. "That is what this campaign is going to be about . . . 'Who are you going to be better off with over the next four years?'" Gibbs said. "I don't think there is any doubt that when this election is said and done it will be close. But people of this country will reject the sort of speculation-type economic gains that Mitt Romney is quite good at for himself and for his investors, and instead look for an economy that is growing, that is built to last, that continues the job creation that we have seen and not quite frankly return to the failed policies of the past."

Also on the program, Ed Gillespie, senior adviser to Mitt Romney, responded to Gibbs' attacks.

"There is correlation, Bob, between making money and growing a company and job creation. That is what President Obama doesn't understand, because he never has been in the private sector and doesn't really understand how it works. I think that is why his policies are so hostile to job creation," Gillespie said.

Gillespie pointed to Solyndra, a government-backed green-energy company that went bankrupt after receiving a government subsidy.

"That is their view of the world [that] we would be better off with political appointees deciding to put our taxpayer money at risk, and reward campaign donors, as was the case in Solyndra, [rather than to put private capital at risk," Gillespie said.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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