Report: Romney talks tough on China, but Bain was key player in outsourcing trend

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney makes a statement on vice presidential vetting on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 in Holland, Mich.
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UPDATED 3:45 p.m. ET

(CBS News) While Mitt Romney campaigns on "getting tough" with China, the firm he founded nearly 30 years ago, Bain Capital, was a key player in the acceleration of the outsourcing trend that has shifted millions of American jobs overseas, the Washington Post reported Friday, citing its analysis of the financial company's securities filings with the government.

"While Bain was not the largest player in the outsourcing field, the private equity firm was involved early on, at a time when the departure of jobs from the United States was beginning to accelerate and new companies were emerging as handmaidens to this outflow of employment," the newspaper wrote.

The newspaper noted that outsourcing jobs has negative effects on individuals, specific firms and some communities. It has also lowered prices for American consumers and made many U.S. companies more profitable from the global supply chain it has created.

"Bain played several roles in helping these outsourcing companies, such as investing venture capital so they could grow and providing management and strategic business advice as they navigated this rapidly developing field," the newspaper said.

That reality is in sharp contrast to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's rhetoric in his 2012 bid for the White House.

Speaking to workers at a Toledo fence factory in Ohio earlier this year, Romney said China has "been able to put American businesses out of business and kill American jobs."

"If I'm president of the United States, that's going to end," he said.

The Romney campaign issued a statement denouncing the story.

"This is a fundamentally flawed story that does not differentiate between domestic outsourcing versus offshoring nor versus work done overseas to support U.S. exports," said Andrea Saul, spokeswoman for the Romney campaign, adding that if Romney wins the White House, "he will implement policies that make it easier and more attractive for companies to create jobs here at home."

And President Obama's campaign predictably touted the report as evidence that Romney does not care about average workers, calling it a "breathtaking hypocrisy" in a press release early Friday morning.

"It's particularly egregious coming on a day when Gov. Romney began running an ad in Ohio promising to stand up to China, demanding a level playing field for our businesses and workers, when it turns out his companies were actually involved in shipping jobs to China and India," Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod later told reporters on conference call.

Mr. Obama plans to reference the report in a speech Friday afternoon at a community college in Tampa, Florida.

"Today it was reported in The Washington Post that the companies [Romney's] firm owned were 'pioneers' in the outsourcing of American jobs to places like China and India. Pioneers!" Mr. Obama plans to say, according to his prepared remarks. "Tampa, we don't need an outsourcing pioneer in the Oval Office. We need a president who will fight for American jobs and American manufacturing. And that's what my plan will do."

Additional reporting by Jillian Hughes.