Thanks to a $5 million donation from a wealthy casino owner, a group supporting Newt Gingrich plans to place advertisements in South Carolina this week attacking Mitt Romney as a predatory capitalist who destroyed jobs and communities, a full-scale Republican assault on Mr. Romney’s business background.
The advertisements, a counterpunch to a campaign waged against Mr. Gingrich by a group backing Mr. Romney, will be built on excerpts from a scathing movie about Bain Capital, the private equity firm Mr. Romney once ran. The movie, financed by a Republican operative opposed to Mr. Romney, includes emotional interviews with people who lost jobs at companies that Bain bought and later sold.
“We had to load up the U-Haul because we done lost our home,” one woman says.
Democrats have signaled that they intend to make Mr. Romney’s history at Bain a central part of their case against him if he wins the Republican nomination. But Bain has also emerged as an issue in the Republican primary, despite the party’s free market stance and business-friendly policies, reflecting the depth of public anger about the economy. At an appearance here on Sunday, Mr. Gingrich suggested that Bain’s approach was to carry out “clever legal ways to loot a company.”
… The Bain-centered campaign strikes at the heart of Mr. Romney’s argument for his qualifications as president — that as a successful executive in the private sector, he learned how to create jobs — and advances an argument that President Obama’s re-election campaign has signaled it will employ aggressively against Mr. Romney.
It was classic Newt at his bitter, angry, petulant best. And the result was a thing of beauty: a near-perfect attack ad that probably brought tears to the eyes and stirred feelings of envy in the heart of many a Democratic consultant in Washington.
I’ll put it this way: a Republican made Wall Street’s perverse business of creating wealth for the one percent, while destroying jobs for the 99% front-page news. Newt even called Romney out during the New Hampshire debate for following “a Wall Street model” where “you basically take out all the money, leaving nothing for workers.”
In 2008, Mike Huckabee said of Mitt Romney, “I want to be a president who reminds you of the guy you work with, not the guy who laid you off.” In 2012 Newt Gingrich hinted that Mitt Romney might actually be “the guy who laid you off.” That’s what we call a “game changer,” boys and girls.
Newt effectively stuck a giant “Kick me,” sign on Mitt Romney’s back. At that point, the GOP primary had so many contenders that the debates resembled a right-wing political version of “American Idol,” but Romney was already considered the “inevitable” nominee. Newt focused national attention like a laser beam on Romney’s weaknesses early in the game.
At Ten Miles Square, Michael Kinsley puts his finger on something that probably defines Mitt Romney’s true bond with a Republican Party that otherwise would just as soon toss him on the dustbin of history: the cult of Success, with its creed of identifying wealth and status with virtue, and any concern for equality or fairness with vice.
…The cult of success is so central to conservative ideology in this country that it brooks little or no dissent, particularly in a Republican Party dependent on downscale white voters whose resentment of people poorer or darker or sicker than they are cannot be complicated by any doubt about the morality of markets. It’s no accident that the entire conservative commentariat came down on Newt Gingrich like a ton of bricks the moment he indulged in a producerist attack on Romney as a predatory capitalist. Start accepting fine distinctions like that, and the next thing you know you might be wondering if this banker or that oil executive is virtuous as well!
It’s not nice to point out what’s in the Kool-Aid, after all. That’s OK. The rest of us got the point loud and clear.
Newt may be gone from the presidential campaign, but the devastatingly accurate case he made against Mitt Romney’s bid for the White House lives on. I guarantee you’ll hear it again between now and November. When you do, think of Newt. And say, “Thank you.” After all, it’s the right thing to do.