Mitt Romney defended his record at Bain Capital while officially accepting the nomination for President of the United States Thursday night at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.
“We weren’t always successful at Bain. But no one ever is in the real world of business. That’s what this President doesn’t seem to understand. Business and growing jobs is about taking risk, sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding, but always striving,” he said.
His remarks noted many of the firm’s successful investments, including its backing of office supply store Staples, sporting goods retailer The Sports Authority as well as Steel Dynamics. Staples founder Tom Stemberg and Bob White, an associate of Romney’s at Bain, also defended the nominee’s record as a businessman.
“These are American success stories. And yet the centerpiece of the President’s entire re-election campaign is attacking success,” Romney said.
In an effort to discredit Romney, President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign has released several negative advertisements featuring the perspectives of former Bain portfolio company employees, as well as a website that questions Romney's and Bain’s jobs record.
The attacks, though shown to be effective among voters in battleground states, have been roundly criticised by members of the financial industry as an exaggeration or mischaracterisation of Bain’s overall record. Some Democrats have also expressed displeasure with the tone of the ads, including noted Obama ally Newark mayor Cory Booker.
Several sources have indicated to Private Equity International that the President’s treatment of Bain has not helped the perception that his administration has an anti-business agenda. Many reports indicate that this is one reason the Obama campaign has struggled to raise money from the financial world, where it held an advantage over Republican nominee Senator John McCain in 2008.
In addition to defending his record as an investor, Romney also drew laughs when he described the difficulty in finding willing investors during Bain’s early days.
“I had thought about asking my church’s pension fund to invest, but I didn't. I figured it was bad enough that I might lose my investors’ money, but I didn’t want to go to hell too. Shows what I know,” he said. “Another of my partners got the Episcopal Church pension fund to invest. Today there are a lot of happy retired priests who should thank him.”