In defending Mitt Romney’s private sector experience Sunday, top surrogate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) explained that capitalism can be “cruel.”
“This is the free enterprise system. The only place in the world that I can recall where companies never failed was the old Soviet Union,” McCain said on “Fox News Sunday.” “And yes, the free enterprise system can be cruel.”
The Obama campaign has run attack ads highlighting jobs lost at companies owned by Bain Capital, which Romney led. Host Wallace dug up quotes from McCain’s GOP primary campaign against Romney four years ago in which he criticized his Bain Capital record as well.
“He managed companies, and he bought and he sold, and sometimes people lost their jobs,” McCain said at the time.
McCain stood by that comment Sunday, arguing that that’s how capitalism works. McCain cited the example of Bain Capital investing in Staples, a successful Bain investment, before turning to attack President Obama. It’s a lack of investment in small businesses that is stifling job growth today, McCain contended.
The Romney campaign has sought to rebuff the Obama campaign’s latest set of attacks against the former Bain Capital CEO by accusing the president of attacking free enterprise. In response, Democrats have gone out of their way to clarify that they are not criticizing private equity much less capitalism, but rather examining a record Mitt Romney touts as a qualification to be president. While Romney claims he created thousands of jobs at Bain Capital, Democrats counter that private equity is about making money, not creating jobs.
This argument was re-hashed Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” where Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs and Romney adviser Ed Gillespie tried to define the Bain Capital attacks.
“What Bain Capital never did was focus on job creation. … That’s what Mitt Romney is running on,” Gibbs said.
Gillespie argued that Romney’s private sector experience has given him a better understanding of the economy than Obama.
“There is a correlation, Bob, between making money and growing a company and job creation,” Gillespie told host Bob Schieffer. “That’s what President Obama doesn’t understand because he’s never been in the private sector, doesn’t really understand how it works. I think that’s why his policies are so hostile to job creation.”
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.