Obama campaign rejects Factcheck.org report defending Romney

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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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.

In fact, the campaign’s letter included a 2007 description from the Washington Post that suggested Romney’s departure for the Olympics was so rapid that it took two years to arrange his formal legal separation from the successful investment firm. “R. Bradford Malt, one of Bain’s lawyers, who now manages Romney’s personal finances, said Romney took a leave of absence [for the Olympics], “partly because of the speed it all happened and partly because it was a limited gig,” according to the Post.

Romney formally quit management of the firm in 2001, prior to his successful campaign for Massachusetts governor in 2003.

The Obama campaign’s pressure on Factcheck comes shortly after the White House and its progressive allies apparently persuaded Chief Justice John Roberts to drop his initial judgement that the far-reaching Obamacare law violated the Constitution’s limits on government power.

According to a July 1 report by CBS, two court sources said Roberts changed his position amid pressure from progressives in the legal sector and in the media. The progressives claimed rejection of the Obamacare law would damage the court’s standing.

The social and political pressure stemmed from Obama’s insistence that the federal government has the authority to make people buy health insurance.

On June 28, Roberts backed that claim. In his majority opinion upholding Obamacare, he announced that the federal government has the authority to tax people who refuse to buy health insurance.

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