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Hey, Democrats! Can we get a coherent message going about Bain Capital or are we going to have to constantly watch surrogates step on the Obama campaign's message? It's not like Romney staffers aren't trying their best to drown it out anyway, right?
So here's the Obama campaign's message on Bain capital: Mitt Romney's role at Bain was to take over companies, loot their pensions, strip their assets, saddle them with incredible debt, pay out Bain investors and let the companies sink into bankruptcy. It's no different than what Romney recommended for the entire US auto industry in 2008. It's an established record, it's fact, and it's a powerful message, particularly to unemployed people who have been on the receiving end of vulture capitalists.
That's their message, which Bill Clinton just stepped on again during an appearance with Harvey Weinstein on Piers Morgan Live on Thursday evening.
WEINSTEIN: Now Governor Romney keeps talking about his experience at Bain Capital as a producer of jobs and that he had 25 years in the private sector. It seems to play with a certain group, but do you think that really will affect people and think that he can produce jobs that the president can't?
CLINTON: I think it will affect some people who relate well to businessmen. And I think he had a good business career. The -- there is a lot of controversy about that. But if you go in and you try to save a failing company, and you and I have friends here who invest in companies, you can invest in a company, run up the debt, loot it, sell all the assets, and force all the people to lose their retirement and fire them.
Or you can go into a company, have cutbacks, try to make it more productive with the purpose of saving it. And when you try, like anything else you try, you don't always succeed. Not every movie you made was a smash hit.
WEINSTEIN: That's for sure.
CLINTON: So I don't think that we ought to get into the position where we say this is bad work. This is good work. I think, however, the real issue ought to be, what has Governor Romney advocated in the campaign that he will do as president? What has President Obama done and what does he propose to do? How do these things stack up against each other?
That's the most relevant thing. There's no question that in terms of getting up and going to the office and, you know, basically performing the essential functions of the office, the man who has been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold. But they have dramatically different proposals. And it's my opinion, anyway, that the Obama proposals and the Obama record will be far better for the American economy and most Americans than those that Governor Romney has laid out. And that's what the election ought to be about.
Now there's no question that Clinton was threading a narrow needle with that particular statement. On the one hand, he says Romney did "good work" but on the other, he offers two examples of how venture capitalism can work. It is the first example -- the pension-stripping, debt-running, job-killing one -- that was the Willard Romney style of capitalism. On the other hand, he mentions those who go in and "try to save companies," calling that "good work." So if anyone was paying attention, it could at least be argued that Clinton was damning Romney with faint praise.
But that's not how it plays in this day and age of instant messaging. It played as Clinton praising Romney's "sterling record" at Bain and stepping all over the Obama campaign's more populist and powerful message. CS Monitor:
Here's the thing: Clinton's comments weren't just "off message." They were a declaration of war on the message. They underscore a fundamental split within the Democratic Party that's less about Romney's record at Bain than it is about whether the party as a whole is perceived as a friend or foe of Wall Street and the world of business and high finance.
Remember, Clinton went to great lengths as president to make the Democratic Party appear more pro-business than it had in decades – supporting free trade, ending "welfare as we know it," and explicitly courting more affluent supporters, particularly on Wall Street.
Once again, a surrogate steps all over the campaign message in order to praise...Bain Capital? And not just any surrogate, either. Bill Clinton, who signed the repeal of Glass-Steagall into law, which is ultimately responsible for the 2008 meltdown on Wall Street. That very same Bill Clinton. Gosh, thanks so much, pal.
By any standard, Bill Clinton runs to the right politically of Barack Obama. It's not surprising to hear him defend Wall Street considering that some of his best friends are Wall Street movers and shakers. And it's not surprising when Democrats are facing a $1 Billion onslaught of right wing money to know that Bill Clinton would not like to offend venture capitalists who are on his side of things.
But what Bill Clinton said on CNN last night leaves the Obama campaign on an island, abandoned by party movers and shakers and even attacked, a la Cory Booker. Like it or not, it's Obama out there calling Romney out on his corporate piracy and dismal record of governance with little to no assistance from surrogates. Since Bain Capital represents everything wrong with today's capitalist mindset, it seems to me some pushback on Mr. Clinton is warranted, despite his trip to Wisconsin Friday and other somewhat-good things he may do.
After all, Clinton just gave Romney his second video of a Democrat praising his record at Bain. If we piled on Cory Booker for a week, Bill Clinton deserves at least two weeks of it.
This message war inside the so-called liberal establishment is ground zero for progressives. Either the Harold Fords, Ed Rendells, Cory Bookers, and Bill Clintons are going to speak for Democrats or else we are. Let's make sure it's us.
Once again, to review: This video right here is the Obama 2012 message about Romney. This one is about his time as Massachusetts' Governor, but it is exactly what he did at Bain: Cut benefits, cut services, raised fees, raised debt, and left the state in a mess.
I would appreciate it if Bill Clinton, et al would review it and memorize it before any more public appearances.
Update: Mr. Clinton was taken aback by the reaction to his statements, and told CBS this:
"I said, you know, Governor Romney had a good career in business and he was a governor, so he crosses the qualification threshold for him being president," Clinton said. "But he shouldn't be elected, because he is wrong on the economy and all these other issues.
"So today, because I didn't attack him personally and bash him, I wake up to read all these stories taking it out of context as if I had virtually endorsed him, which means the tea party has already won their first great victory: 'We are supposed to hate each to disagree.' That is wrong."
Look, I don't think we have to hate each other, but could we possibly just be consistent with regard to the message? I don't see Obama "hating" on Bain. I do see the campaign struggling to make the case that Romney's Bain behavior is relevant to how he would run this country. Since no one in media has bothered to ask Mitt Romney what he would have done during our meltdown to save the country from financial ruin, the only benchmark we have is Bain and Romney's attitude toward the auto industry.
So Bill, I don't hate you, but could you simply stay on message? No hate, just facts.