US President Barack Obama greets graduate Britney Wilson before making the commencement address at Barnard College on May 14, 2012 in New York. Obama headed to New York to speak at the Barnard College commencement, for an interview on The View and to attend a campaign fundraiser. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages
Updated: June 16, 2012 8:16AM
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama tried Monday to tarnish Mitt Romney as a corporate titan who got rich by cutting rather than creating jobs, opening a new effort to undercut the Republican’s claims that his background of business success is just what America needs in a time of deep economic uncertainty.
At the center of the Obama campaign effort are a new website, TV ad and online video including interviews with onetime workers at a Kansas City, Mo., steel mill that Romney’s former private equity firm failed to successfully restructure. Workers lost jobs and health care benefits. Pensions were reduced.
“It was like a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us,” says steelworker Jack Cobb. Add John Wiseman: “Bain Capital walked away with a lot of money that they made off this plant. We view Mitt Romney as a job destroyer.
Countering the criticism, Romney’s campaign said the former Massachusetts governor welcomes an election-season conversation with Obama about jobs. Romney’s campaign has argued that he helped spur tens of thousands of jobs in the public and private sectors and pointed to a net job loss during Obama’s presidency, most of which occurred during the first few months of his administration.
Obama has touted the creation of 4.2 million new jobs over the last 26 months as his policies took hold.
Both candidates are seeking to pivot to voters’ No. 1 issue, the economy, and away from the social issues that dominated after the president announced his support for gay marriage last week.
Obama steered clear of criticizing Romney during a commencement speech at Barnard College in New York though he included a passing reference to nearby Wall Street, saying: “Some folks in the financial world have not exactly been model corporate citizens.”
Obama’s TV ad was scheduled to run in five battleground states — Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Colorado — and was part of a larger $25 million, monthlong campaign. But it was limited in scope.
Republican officials tracking the ad buy said the Obama team was airing the two-minute spot only on Wednesday in the five states. The ad was expected to run during the evening news, directing viewers to an Obama website about Romney’s economic record and a longer, six-minute version of the ad appearing online.
As Obama’s campaign was raising Romney’s record in private equity, the president himself was heading to two fundraisers, including a $35,800-per-person dinner at the home of Hamilton “Tony” James, the president of Blackstone Group, the nation’s largest private equity firm. AP