Mitt Romney has spent more than 20 years in private enterprise, making thousands of business decisions affecting hundreds of companies that led to more than 100,000 new jobs and billions of dollars for employees and investors. So you can see why the left despises him.
Among Romney’s thousands of business decisions, the one I gather his opponents consider his absolute worst was the decision to close a paper plant in Marion, Indiana. Which wasn’t his decision at all.
It was labor trouble at the Marion plant of a Bain-acquired company, Ampad, that formed the basis of Teddy Kennedy’s desperate 11th-hour attack on Romney in their 1994 Senate competition. Plant worker Randy Johnson was featured in Kennedy campaign commercials against Romney and disgruntled workers were lavished with Dickensian lachrymosity in The Boston Globe.
In the current presidential campaign, Democrats — and some Republicans — have returned to Ampad and the Marion plant as their case in chief against Romney.
The “King of Bain” movie that a pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC just bought with money donated by a gambling magnate cites only one company closed by Bain when Romney was even there.
Guess which one? That’s right: Ampad.
The Democratic National Committee has retained Johnson to go on tour in order to more fulsomely describe the horrors perpetrated by Bain Capital on workers at that plant. As salt-of-the-earth Johnson explains, he lost his job at Ampad because Romney “didn’t care about the worker.”
It is beyond journalistic malpractice for media outlets showcasing the bitter and lying Johnson to neglect to mention that he was the union president who led the strike that forced Ampad to close the plant.
And yet The New York Times, MSNBC and others who have publicized Johnson’s sob story regularly refuse to convey that crucial fact. This would be as if a judge excluded the fact that the defense’s principal witness is the defendant’s mother.
By 1994, the unionized Marion plant was becoming a losing operation to every company that owned it. It was a paper plant, and in the early 1990s, the paper business was beginning to go the way of the buggy whip, as the world became computerized.
(Randy Johnson suffered? Paper magnate Peter Brandt nearly lost Stephanie Seymour over the collapse of the paper market.)
Bain Capital specialized in rescuing troubled companies, so in 1992, it bought the faltering paper-based office products business, Ampad, from the Mead Paper Company. Far from shutting down Ampad, Bain started buying up more firms in the industry to add to Ampad’s portfolio, hoping to create efficiencies and synergies.
In July 1994, Bain-controlled Ampad bought Smith-Corona’s struggling paper business — home to the famed Marion plant.
(Despite shedding its paper business, Smith-Corona went bankrupt the next year. Nobody uses typewriters anymore. Ironically, a century earlier, people said Smith-Corona typewriters would never replace the pen. They probably railed against Smith-Corona as “vulture capitalists” destroying the pen industry.)
Seeking to succeed where Smith-Corona had failed, Bain’s Ampad sought to renegotiate a suicide-pact union contract at the Marion plant. But instead of renegotiating, union president Randy Johnson thought it would be a great idea to immediately go on strike.