Candy Crowley apparently has a very different idea of what "class warfare" means than I do, since she decided to go after Obama adviser David Axelrod for participating in just that, with the Obama campaign's latest attack ads on Mitt Romney for his time at Bain Capital.
I think Axelrod did a fairly good job of pushing back at Crowley for saying it's unfair to go after Mitt Romney's time at Bain, but Crowley did her best to treat him like a hostile witness, interrupting him at every chance and aggressively making him defend talking points from the RNC on whether it's fair to go after those "job creators." Quite a contrast to her generally chummy, softball interviews with Republicans that come on her show on CNN.
Unfortunately for the White House, they had Newark Mayor Cory Booker stepping all over their campaign message that same morning. As Karoli noted in her post, he's walked his comments back since then, but it didn't help much. The damage and campaign ads using him are already done.
Transcript below the fold.
CROWLEY: Joining me to discuss this week's take of two steel mills and other campaign adventure, Obama Campaign Senior Adviser David Axelrod. David, thanks for joining us from beautiful downtown Chicago. We appreciate it. I want to...
AXELROD: Beautiful to be here. Thanks Candy.
CROWLEY: I want to start -- I -- I wanted to start out with something that Mitt Romney said, characterizing what your advertising is about.
ROMNEY: The purpose of the president's ads are not to describe success and failure, but to -- somehow to suggest that I'm -- that I'm not a good person or not a good guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: And do you quibble with that? Is not the gist of the ad that you all put out about Bain Capital, Romney's former firm, that he is a rich gritty guy who doesn't care about the middle-class?
AXELROD: No I -- that -- I do quibble with that. The point of the ad is to look at his business record. The only credential that Governor Romney has offered the people of this country for running for the presidency is that he was a businessman. He never talks about the fact that he was governor of Massachusetts. Because when he was governor of Massachusetts, they went from 36th to 47th in job creation and it was a -- a pretty much of a disastrous period.
So that he doesn't talk about. He talks about being a businessman and hints that somehow the things that he did there prepared him to lead the country and its economy. And so it behooves us to look at what exactly he did. And the fact is that he wasn't about job creation. And he and his partners have acknowledged in candid moments, our job wasn't to create jobs. It was to create wealth for ourselves and our partners.
CROWLEY: And it was to find places for the...
AXELROD: ...any -- any -- by any means necessary.
CROWLEY: Well, it was to find and -- you had had success stories, you will agree to that, but he -- I mean what they are saying is, look this was a private equity firm, an investment firm. We invested in businesses. We wanted them to succeed. Some of them did and some of them didn't. Doesn't that tell you that this is a guy with a business background...
(CROSSTALK) AXELROD: Candy, but here's the point.
AXELROD: Some -- some of them did...
CROWLEY: ...make businesses tick.
AXELROD: ...and some of them didn't, Candy. But he always walked away with money. And that was the point. The point was that he didn't think -- they didn't fail with the company. They didn't -- they didn't embrace the failure. They loaded that company, GST Steel with debt and then they bankrupted the company. Moved, by the way -- the company was in Kansas City, they filed for bankruptcy in North Carolina so that they could vacate some of their obligations to their workers. So the workers lost health care benefits and -- and some additional benefits that they were -- that they had negotiated for. That they were promised.
And -- and -- and Governor Romney's team walked away with at least $12 million. That is not -- that is what -- that's what Vice President Biden was referring to. It is not right when you have two sets of rules where the guys at the top prosper, no matter what happens and the workers down the line bear the brunt of it. That's the kind of -- of dislocations we've had in our economy. It's what concerns people about where we've been.
CROWLEY: So it -- I -- I want to move you on since you've mentioned Vice President Biden, to something that he talked about in Youngstown, Ohio.
BIDEN: My mother and father believed that if my brother or sister wanted to be a millionaire, they could be a millionaire. My mother and father dreamed as much as any rich guy dreams.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
BIDEN: They don't get us. They don't get who we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Do you understand why some people listen to that and do believe that the Obama campaign is engaged in class warfare? That this was very definitely...
CROWLEY: ...an attack on the rich?
AXELROD: Here's the point. We -- we believe strongly, and most Americans do that we -- we -- we honor success, we celebrate success. But we want everybody to have a fair chance at it, a fair shot at it. And the question really is moving forward, what kind of economic policies do we want? If Governor Romney says that his business experience informs him about how he's going to move forward, look at that business experience and ask if episodes like GS Steel are the ones that -- that -- that we want governing our economy.
We want an economy in which people can get the education they need and the training they need. We want an economy where there are good middle-class jobs available and not one where those jobs -- where wages are cut, benefits are cut and people can't live a good and...
CROWLEY: This happens to a lot of businesses...
AXELROD: While -- while...
CROWLEY: This happens to a lot of businesses does it not? And it has happened over the course of time. That businesses -- this was in a particular bad time for the steel industry as you know. And -- and -- and isn't failure every much as instructive as success in terms of giving you an idea of...
AXELROD: Candy. Candy.
CROWLEY: ...what makes.
AXELROD: Candy can you -- can you -- and let me -- And I know -- let me ask you a question. Do you -- if you were a worker at that steel mill and you lost much of what you worked for over a period of decades and your -- your pension it turns out was underfunded by $46 million. Your pension system. And you then watch the people who loaded your company with debt walk away with a profit while you were left without what you thought you had earned.
Do you think that that -- would you feel that was fair? Would you feel that was right...
CROWLEY: If I were that person, I -- I certainly wouldn't...
AXELROD: Of course. Well I think that's....
CROWLEY: ...I feel about it, you know sort of is not at all germane. I was just wondering if you... (CROSSTALK)
AXELROD: No, but I think that you...
CROWLEY: ...think that that isn't a businesses experience. I mean Romney's job as you said...
AXELROD: Well I -- I...
AXELROD: Well I -- I -- I think that Romney's -- Romney's -- look I -- I absolutely -- if you asked me was Romney good at making money for himself and his partners? Yes. If you ask me whether I think that outsourcing of jobs, off-shoring of accounts, bankrupting companies and profiting off those bankruptcies are a prescription for building the American economy, and is good -- is a good vision for our future, the answer to that is no.