Laid-Off Worker in Anti-Romney Ad Now Says He Won't Vote for Obama; Will Media Report?

Donnie Box, a steelworker in Missouri who lost his job and is the focus of an anti-Mitt Romney advertisement being run by a Super PAC that supports President Barack Obama, now says he will not vote to re-elect the president in November.

"I could really care less about Obama," the lifelong Democrat says in an article written by Mike Elk on the In These Times website before criticizing the president as "a jerk, a pantywaist, a lightweight, a blowhard. He hasn’t done a goddamn thing that he said he would do," he complained, adding:


When he had a Democratic Senate and Democratic Congress, he didn’t do a damn thing. He doesn’t have the guts to say what’s on his mind.

The 33-second spot is being run by the Priorities USA Action Super PAC in the battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and it's entitled "Meet Donnie Box."

The pro-Obama Super PAC describes Box as someone "who lost his job of 32 years at Kansas City's GST Steel after Romney's firm took it over."

"Romney and Bain Capital shut this place down," Box says at the start of the commercial while standing outside the empty factory where he used to work. “They shut down entire livelihoods.”

They promised us a health-care package. They promised to maintain our retirement program. And those were the first two things that disappeared.

This was a booming place, and Mitt Romney and Bain Capital turned it into a junkyard, just making money and leaving. They don't live in this neighborhood. They don't live in this part of the world.

The final text of the ad claims: "If Mitt Romney wins, the Middle Class loses."

The ad debuted in mid-June and was quickly noticed by the liberal media: It was highlighted on the June 10 edition of ABC's This Week, the June 11 edition of MSNBC's The Last Word, and in a Maddow Blog post by Steve Benen on June 11 at MSNBC.com.

In Elk's article, Box states that he and his fellow employees didn't know who Romney was "when all this stuff started. We just knew he was just another guy with money. It wasn't until his boys came and started gutting the place that we found out he was an a**hole."

Lately, the media has given much attention to the question of whether the former Massachusetts governor was in charge of Bain Capital from 1999 to 2002, in some small part because Bain closed the steel plant where Box worked in 2001.

During the past year, the United Steelworkers union has been attacking the GOP presidential candidate's record at Bain Capital, citing the experience of their former members who were negatively affected during Romney’s tenure there.

In response, the GOP candidate has stated that he left Bain Capital to run the Olympics in 1999, years before the plant closed. Romney also described his role in the company during that time as “merely as a figurehead.”

For Box, it doesn’t matter whether Romney had a direct day-to-day managerial role when Bain Capital closed the plant. He feels that Romney was still in a position to change things and that he had no problem profiting from other people's suffering:

There is no doubt in my mind when he came in with Bain Capital, he was the president and CEO of that corporation. He was responsible for the people who came in there and started loading up on debt. They knew with that much debt that there was no way that the place could survive.

Box’s refusal to cast a ballot for Obama shows the challenges organized labor faces in convincing its members to vote for Democrats. Many union members like Box feel the party hasn’t pushed hard enough for jobs bills or labor law reform while making sure to pass trade pacts, like the South Korea Free Trade Agreement, which the AFL-CIO and United Steelworkers opposed. On top of that, the Democrats chose to hold their convention in North Carolina, a right-to-work state that Obama narrowly carried in 2008, adding insult to injury.

In a somewhat similar situation during the 2010 midterm election, Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball program, learned that the three men in a campaign ad playing West Virginians at a diner while attacking Democratic Senate candidate Joe Manchin were really actors hired by a Philadelphia talent agency.

While interviewing Damian Muziani, one of the men in the ad, Matthews noted that the agency told the actors to dress in a "hicky blue collar look" and fixated on the fact that Muziani actually would vote for Manchin in the election were he eligible to vote in West Virginia.

It's interesting that Muziani, an actor who appeared in a GOP ad, received media play in part because he actually supported the Democratic candidate, while Box, a real voter who is the focus of an attack ad produced by a Democratic Super PAC, is receiving scant media coverage because in reality, he says he will not vote for the incumbent president.

This is the first time Box will not cast a ballot since 1971, saying he has "lost his faith in politicians."

Randy Hall
Randy Hall