Politics
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Obama campaign rejects Factcheck.org report defending Romney

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama’s campaign staffers are pushing back against the FactCheck.org site after it concluded June 29 that Gov. Mitt Romney had not exported any U.S. jobs before he left Bain Capital in 1999 to run the Winter Olympics.

“The statement that Gov. Romney ‘left’ Bain in February 1999 — a statement central to your fact-check —- is not accurate,” said Stephanie Cutter, Obama’s deputy campaign manager, in a letter released late Sunday night.

“Romney took an informal leave of absence but remained in full legal control of Bain… at a minimum, we ask that a copy of this letter be posted prominently along with your Outsource overreach report, enabling the readers you serve to drawn their own conclusions,” she wrote.

The issue is important to the Obama campaign, which is using TV attack-ads to reduce Romney’s potential support among working class swing voters by portraying him as a heartless, job-cutting, factory-closing, offshoring and outsourcing corporate predator.

That portrayal is critical for Obama as he attempts to overcome a strong pro-Romney turnout by blue-collar and middle-class voters.

Romney’s team says his business experience as a successful investor at Bain Capital will help him reanimate the nation’s stalled economy and reduce record unemployment levels.

Romney’s work at Bain helped create profits for investors and 100,000 new jobs at numerous successful companies, including Staples, the office-supply firm, and Steel Dynamics, a high-tech steelmaker, say Romney’s advocates.

The Obama letter was prompted by Factcheck’s June 29 report slamming Obama’s TV-ads for portraying Romney as a job-exporter.

“One [Obama] TV ad, called ‘Come and Go,’ claims that Romney ‘shipped jobs to China and Mexico,’” said the Factcheck report.

But “the claims in the [Obama] ads are untrue, and others are thinly supported,” said Factcheck, which is a liberal-leaning site established by the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

“After reviewing numerous corporate filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, contemporary news accounts, company histories and press releases, and the evidence offered by both the Obama and Romney campaigns, we found no evidence to support the claim that Romney — while he was still running Bain Capital — shipped American jobs overseas,” said the report.

A third company, Holson Burnes, did have some work in China, but “we don’t know whether the company’s outsourcing to China increased under Bain or decreased and, more important, we don’t know if that outsourcing came at the expense of U.S. jobs,” said Factcheck.

“The Obama campaign doesn’t know, either,” it added.

Factcheck’s claims are useful to the Romney campaign, which can cite them in TV-ads designed to counter Obama’s negative ads.

The Obama team’s June 1 letter claims that Romney did not give up his legal ownership, nor his oversight of Bain, while he was reorganizing the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

The continued legal ownership in Bain implicates him in at least two examples where Bain-owned electronics firms moved work and jobs to lower-cost facilities in Mexico in June 2000 and June 2001, said the letter.

However, the letter does not provide any examples of Romney directing any business decisions at Bain after he departed for the Olympics.