No you’re the “outsourcer-in-chief.”
In what has become a signature move for Mitt Romney, Republicans are trying to rebut attacks against their nominee by accusing President Obama of doing the exact same thing. Or something vaguely related to it.
Romney has been suffering in the polls lately, partly because the Obama campaign has seized on a Washington Post report that Bain Capital invested in companies that were “pioneers” in outsourcing and offshoring. But RNC Chairman Reince Priebus seems to have found a GOP talking point to push back against the charges: a new RNC-backed website called “ObamanomicsOutsourced” and an accompanying press conference Tuesday to decry Obama as “outsourcer-in-chief,” the same phrase Democrats have used to describe Romney. The Romney campaign followed with his own press release saying Obama “encouraged American jobs to move overseas and he’s sent taxpayer dollars to foreign-owned companies.”
The sourcing for Republicans’ claim centers on stimulus funding that went to foreign companies for clean-energy projects. The Obama campaign quickly pointed out that the stimulus bill specifically included provisions requiring funding go to American jobs, but the RNC is trumpeting news stories describing several individual companies that received funds and that also employ foreign workers.
But in an ironic turn, one of the articles highlighted by Romney and the RNC is written by the same Washington Post reporter, Tom Hamburger, who wrote the Bain expose that Romney’s campaign is trying to discredit as “false.” The article focuses largely on Obama’s failure to get Congress to take up his call to close tax loopholes the president says give businesses incentives to outsource. It also brings up free trade agreements he’s signed, which some critics on the left say hurt American jobs. But Romney has not endorsed getting rid of the tax loophole in question and he’s consistently argued that Obama hasn’t signed enough free trade agreements, making it a confusing line of attack.
Throwing whatever criticism Romney receives back at Obama has been the Republican’s go-to move throughout the campaign.
• After earlier attacks on Bain Capital’s layoffs at companies it purchased, Romney accused Obama of laying off workers by approving government loans to Solyndra, a solar company that later went bankrupt. It was a strained analogy considering that — unlike Bain — the White House never made any of Solyndra’s management decisions and its only interaction with the company involved giving it money to grow.
• Romney was pilloried by members of his own party for his campaign’s confusing take on why a individual mandate should count as a tax in Obama’s health care law, but not in his own Massachusetts health care law. He responded last week by attacking the White House for confusing its position on the same issue.
“In a curious development, President Obama apparently disagrees with the Supreme Court ruling upholding his health care law,” Romney spokesperson Amanda Henneberg said in a statement.
• When Democrats argued Republicans were waging a “war on women” by restricting contraception coverage and proposing mandatory ultrasounds for women seeking abortions, Romney claimed the “real war on women” was disproportionate female unemployment. He offered no explanation as to why this disparity existed or what he would do about it.
• Romney, frequently accused by critics on both sides of not taking a clear position on controversial issues for political reasons, opened his campaign against Obama by accusing him of …exactly that.
“Unlike President Obama, you don’t have to wait until after the election to find out what I believe in — or what my plans are,” Romney said in April.
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.