Interesting write up today by Guardian columnist Michael Wolff regarding Obama’s message campaign, Mitt Romney’s Bain capitalism pays dividends to Obama:
The transformational issue in this campaign might not be healthcare, or the economy, or immigration, but Bain Capital, says the New York Times – in a surprised acknowledgment that the private equity firm that Mitt Romney helped found is proving to be a powerful weapon against him.
The Bain attacks are, so far, the most controversial Obama campaign strategy, derided by many Democratic pros and insiders. Theirs is a simple analysis: populist attacks seldom work for the Democrats (curiously, they tend to work well for the Republicans); private equity is an issue too complicated to gain lasting attention; it’s silly to offend the financial community, which provides so much support to the Democrats, over a low-return issue.
This last point is causing the most head-shaking within the party. Particularly in the wake of the eruption by Obama partisan, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, in which he characterized the anti-Bain campaign as nauseating: why bite the hand that feeds you?
The New York Times piece Wolff is referencing reported Bain Attacks Make Inroads For President:
Propelled by a torrent of blistering television advertisements, President Obama is successfully invoking Mitt Romney’s career at Bain Capital to raise questions about his commitment to the middle class, strategists in both parties say, as the candidates engage in a critical summer duel to set the terms for this fall…
… strategists with both parties said independent voters speaking in focus groups had indicated that they had seen the ads or heard their charges and that they had raised questions in their minds about Mr. Romney’s experience.
The attacks are working for a simple reason – Americans understand Wall Street is responsible for the struggling economy.
So why would these attacks cause any dismay in the Democratic Party, the one that claims continually to stand for “working families?” Because a good portion of the party has been bought by Wall Street. To be fair, Wall Street tries to buy everyone.
A ThinkProgress examination of New Jersey campaign finance records for Booker’s first run for Mayor — back in 2002 — suggests a possible reason for his unease with attacks on Bain Capital and venture capital. They were among his earliest and most generous backers.
Contributions to his 2002 campaign from venture capitalists, investors, and big Wall Street bankers brought him more than $115,000 for his 2002 campaign. Among those contributing to his campaign were John Connaughton ($2,000), Steve Pagliuca ($2,200), Jonathan Lavine ($1,000) — all of Bain Capital. While the forms are not totally clear, it appears the campaign raised less than $800,000 total, making this a significant percentage.
He and his slate also jointly raised funds for the “Booker Team for Newark” joint committee. They received more than $450,000 for the 2002 campaign from the sector — including a pair of $15,400 contributions from Bain Capital Managing Directors Joshua Bekenstein and Mark Nunnelly. It appears that for the initial campaign and runoff, the slate raised less than $4 million — again making this a sizable chunk.
In all — just in his first Mayoral run — Booker’s committees received more than $565,000 from the people he was defending. At least $36,000 of that came from folks at Romney’s old firm.
Wouldn’t it be great if this was an isolated incident? But it isn’t.
Which goes back to Wolff’s column:
Part of the Democrats’ inability to make the financial meltdown its own issue is caused by its own deep ambivalence and profound conflict of interest when it comes to the financial industry: many senior administration officials expect to leave office and get jobs, and make personal fortunes, in the institutions that might otherwise be blamed, and even indicted, for the present mess.
But then, in another staggering reversal, the Republicans end up with Mitt Romney – Mitt Romney! – a figure straight out of the Republicans’ long-ago, country-club, preppy, pink-pants, stockbroker era, as their certain nominee. Mitt Romney is the unreconstructed George Bush.
The real question then is what will the future of the Democratic Party be? Will it stand with the 99% or sell them out for 1% campaign donors?
This is not an abstract issue, it’s happening right now as the Obama campaign fires more of its guns at Bain and more Corporate Democrats come out of the woodwork to fire back