In a case of awkward timing, The Washington Post’s report on Thursday evening on Mitt Romney’s investments in companies that specialized in outsourcing came only hours after the Washington Post’s ‘Fact Checker’ blog gave one of its harshest ratings to an Obama campaign ad accusing Romney of shipping jobs overseas.
Glenn Kessler, who writes the blog, gave the ad “Four Pinocchios” for its claim that “as a corporate raider, [Romney] shipped jobs to China and Mexico” and that “As governor, he did the same thing: Outsourcing state jobs to India.”
Democrats are gleefully passing around the Washington Post’s investigative piece by Tom Hamburger today, however, titled “Romney’s Bain Capital Invested in Companies That Moved Jobs Overseas,” saying the story corroborates their claims. There is also some gloating involved, like the below from Democratic operative Greg Greene.
But Kessler told TPM on Friday that he is sticking by the rating in the wake of Hamburger’s scoop.
“I see no reason to change the rating at this point,” Kessler said in an e-mail. “The ad was based on specific allegations that were incorrect, relating to the fact that the Obama people took advantage of the grey area between 1999 and 2002 regarding Romney’s involvement in Bain.”
Kessler was referring to the period in which Romney took a leave of absence from the company to help organize the 2002 Winter Olympics.
“I also rated the ad poorly because of the flimsy sourcing for ‘corporate raider’ and the incorrect claim that romney promoted outsourcing as governor,” Kessler said, suggesting the term was too associated with hostile takeovers to apply to Bain’s usual private equity deals.
That said, Kessler noted that the Obama campaign had in fact supplied him with records referring to Bain’s involvement in some of the same companies that Hamburger ended up highlighting in his piece. Kessler said the information he had received from them had mostly referred to 1999-2002 era Bain, while Hamburger’s piece had gone further in detailing Romney’s earlier personal involvement.
“Unlike the Obama campaign, he was careful to only look at things in the pre-1999 context,” Kessler said. “And to be clear, there is a distinction between saying someone is responsible for shipping jobs overseas (the ad) and saying someone invested in companies that specialized in helping companies subcontract work to overseas factories (Tom’s story).”
So while Kessler is standing by his review, Hamburger’s piece points to an opportunity for the campaign to put their claims on sounder footing the next time around.
“If the Obama campaign were to make a new ad based on this material, with the proper context and without the material on corporate raider and Romney’s governorship, that might result in a different ruling,” he said.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.