It only takes a few words, even out-of-context ones, for a well-disciplined campaign message to disintegrate. Just ask Newark Mayor Cory Booker. And now, it’s Bill Clinton’s turn. Last night, the ex-president may have just stuck “another fork” — as the Washington Post‘s Aaron Blake put it — in the Obama campaign’s carefully-honed attack against Mitt Romney’s experience at Bain Capital.
It may not matter that–sitting with guest host Harvey Weinstein on Piers Morgan Tonight—Clinton said that he believed Obama would win reelection “by 5 or 6 points” and argued that the president’s ideas “will be far better for the American economy” than those of the GOP nominee. Weeks ago on Meet the Press, Booker also praised the president, just before going off-message by calling his reelection campaign ads against Bain “nauseating.”
Clinton found himself in similar circumstances. “I think he had a good business career,” he said of Romney, when queried about Bain. He also called Mitt’s record “sterling”, adding “So I don’t think that we ought to get into the position where we say this is bad work. This is good work.” Since it isn’t likely that the ex-president will film a “hostage-style” apology video, as critics of Cory Booker’s subsequent YouTube clip deemed it, it’s fair to wonder about the extent the Obama campaign will be attacking Bain from now on — especially after U.S. stocks suffered their worst drop of the year Friday following weak economic data.
Mitt Romney, for one, was happy to welcome Clinton’s’ thoughts. “I think Bain Capital has a good and solid record. I was happy to see President Clinton made a similar statement … and called my record superb,” he said on Friday, according to Politico.
The Obama ads painted Mitt Romney, in the words once used by also-ran GOP candidate Rick Perry, as a pure “vulture capitalist.” One spot prominently featured a laid-off factory worker who said that Bain was “like a vampire.” At the time, Obama campaign officials had stressed that they were not going after the entire private equity industry. But, as many reporters have noted, it’s difficult to separate Bain’s actions from everyone else’s.
Steven Rattner, the former adviser known as Obama’s car czar, summed up the problem with the anti-Bain strategy when he spoke on MSNBC’s Morning Joe a few weeks ago. “Look, Mitt Romney made a mistake ever talking about the fact that he created 100,000 jobs,” Rattner said. But he also added: “I do think to pick out an example of somebody who lost their job, unfortunately, this is part of capitalism, this is part of life. And I don’t think there’s anything Bain Capital did that they need to be embarrassed about.”