Obama campaign operatives eagerly jumped on a story in The New York Times on Friday that alleged that Mitt Romney's family blind trust has holdings in a Bain Capital-run fund that invested in Chinese video surveillance used against dissidents.
Now we know why Mitt Romney has been less than forthcoming about the details of his finances," Stephanie Cutter, the Obama deputy campaign manager, said in a statement. "This revelation not only highlights Romney's utter hypocrisy on China, but it also raises more questions about what his investments are and why he won't reveal all of them. Mitt Romney has criticized President Obama on the campaign trail for putting economic interests ahead of human rights in China. But this new revelation about Romney's financial interest in a Chinese surveillance company suggests that Romney is not living up to his own publicly-stated values. Mitt Romney seems to play by one set of rules on the campaign trail but has another set of rules for his own finances."
Asked to comment, Andrea Saul, the Romney campaign spokeswoman, said in an email that "Gov. and Mrs. Romney's assets are managed on a blind basis, so they do not control the investment of these assets."
Democratic officials like nothing better than to remind voters of the meme that Romney is an out-of-touch plutocrat who made his money at a job-destroying Wall Street firm. And they see the Times story as furthering two key narratives they want to string out about Romney: "One is that he's extreme on China. The other is that he's hypocritical on China," says Nina Hachigian of the progressive Center for American Progress. "He criticizes the Obama administration for not doing enough on human rights and intellectual capital, and yet Bain is investing in putting cameras in monasteries and companies engaged in intellectual property violations."
The Times story noted that Romney "has had no role in Bain's operations since 1999 and had no say over the investment in China. But the fortunes of Bain and Mr. Romney are still closely tied."
Last December, the Wall Street Journal reported that Romney's financial advisers had recently shed all his investments in China, worth as much as $1.5 million, about the same time that Romney made "confronting China" on trade a central element of his economic platform.