The debate over Mitt Romney's tenure at Bain Capital blew up into a full-scale ad war on Tuesday.
The Republican National Committee came out with a damning video that accuses the Obama campaign of trying to cover up Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s rebuke of the campaign's attack on Bain and Romney's work in the private equity industry. But a super PAC supporting the president's reelection stepped up the attack a notch with a new ad featuring a laid-off worker decrying Bain's corporate takeover tactics.
The attack ads and counter-attack ads were the harshest to hit the airwaves since the primaries earlier this year, when Republicans were in the midst of a pitched battle for the nomination.
The RNC video shows contradicting television interviews between campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt and Booker, implying that Booker did in fact meet with the campaign after his Meet the Press appearance. Booker kicked off the controversy on the show Sunday when he said he thought Obama's attacks on Romney’s Bain experience were “nauseating.”
In the ad, when asked if the Obama campaign reached out to Booker, LaBolt says, “We did not. These are his own views in the video.” The video then turns to Booker’s Monday interview on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, in which he said, “I certainly did talk to campaign officials.”
LaBolt is shown saying, “He released that video of his own volition. The campaign did not ask him to do so.”
Booker finally says, “They had good conversations with me, and having good conversations with them, especially after hearing the president’s remarks on this issue … all of those things made me say, ‘You know what, I need to go on and clarify.’”
The RNC accused the campaign of trying to silence Democrats who are unhappy with the Obama campaign’s attacks on Romney’s business record.
“This entire episode demonstrates just how far the Obama campaign will go to punish Democrats who speak out on behalf of job creators and the free enterprise system," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. "Mayor Booker spoke favorably because he knows Governor Romney has a strong background in turning around struggling enterprises and helping to create jobs for middle-class families.”
LaBolt told Politico that a Democratic National Committee official reached out to Booker, and not someone from the Obama campaign. He also said that neither the official nor the Obama campaign asked Booker to make the video clarifying his Meet the Press appearance.
Also today, the super PAC Crossroads GPS, run by super Republican strategist Karl Rove, unveiled a nearly $10 million ad campaign in 10 swing states, which will last for three weeks and hammer Obama for abandoning middle class families.
In an ad called "Basketball," a mother ages on camera in fast-forward as her children first play basketball in the backyard and then grow from school-age to adults. “I always loved watching the kids play basketball. I still do, even though things have changed,” the woman says as she works in her kitchen. “They can’t find jobs to get their careers started, and I can’t afford to retire. And now, we’re all living together again. I supported President Obama because he spoke so beautifully. He promised change. But things changed for the worse.”
The ad drew an immediate response from the super PAC supporting Obama, which released its own ad featuring Loris Huffman, a middle-aged woman who worked at the Ampad paper product factory in Marion, Ind., until 1995, when she claims to have been laid off after Romney closed the plant. The ad claims Romney and Bain made $100 million after Ampad went into bankruptcy.
In a statement, Priorities USA PAC spokesman Bill Burton said, “The key feature of Karl Rove’s ad is using actors to portray a fictional family. In our ads, we portray real-life stories of Americans who were devastated by the decisions Mitt Romney made.”