On Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams attempted to conflate the JPMorgan $2 billion loss with Mitt Romney's business record as he declared: "The Obama campaign may have had this JPMorgan story in mind when it picked today to launch a new ad attacking Mitt Romney's former firm, the private equity giant, Bain Capital, as a middle class job killer."
Chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd followed by proclaiming that the Obama team was "...attacking Mitt Romney's time at Bain Capital for what, in some people believe, are rough ways that they went about buying up some companies, leveraging them...what the campaign believes...says about Mitt Romney's leadership on the economy, that he'll be ruthless in this."
On Tuesday's Today, co-host Ann Curry pressed Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom on charges made in the Obama attack ad: "...this two-minute ad and the six-minute video, that really focuses on the closing of – of this steel mill. I wonder if Mitt Romney now thinks that closing of that steel mill was a mistake?"
Fehrnstrom ripped the ad: "Well, I think these attempts by President Obama to distract from his own poor record on the economy is the biggest smokescreen since Mount St. Helens erupted."
On Nightly News, Todd summarized both the Obama ad and a Romney ad touting a Bain Capital success story. During his report on Today, clips played of both ads, with Todd explaining:
Meanwhile the Obama campaign is turning its attention this week to Mitt Romney's business record, slamming Romney's old private equity firm, Bain Capital, for buying and later closing a Kansas City steel mill....The Romney campaign quickly responded with its own web ad, highlighting what they believe is a Bain Capital success story, Steel Dynamics in Indiana.
Todd did point out hypocrisy on the President's part:
...an awkward attempt to raise big Wall Street money while bashing some of Wall Street's practices, at least when it comes to how Mitt Romney did it....The President's last event in New York City was at the home of the president of a hedge fund that's twice as large as Bain, and there, the President praised the free market system. They've been trying to walk a line, Ann, a little bit, on how much they bash Bain versus Mitt Romney.
Here is a full transcript of Todd's May 14 Nightly News report:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: The Obama campaign may have had this JPMorgan story in mind when it picked today to launch a new ad attacking Mitt Romney's former firm, the private equity giant, Bain Capital, as a middle class job killer. We heard a lot of this during the campaign. NBC's political director, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd with us from our D.C. newsroom tonight. Chuck, good evening.
CHUCK TODD: Good evening, Brian. Well, it worked for Ted Kennedy in 1994 when he ran against Romney, and it worked for a time for Newt Gingrich during the South Carolina primary earlier this year. And so attacking Mitt Romney's time at Bain Capital for what, in some people believe, are rough ways that they went about buying up some companies, leveraging them, and so the Obama campaign unveiled a two-minute ad.
But it turns out they didn't spend that much money on this ad, it's only going to air one time in a few markets on one day this week, but it tells the story of GST Steel in Kansas City. And what the campaign believes it says – is that it says about Mitt Romney's leadership on the economy, that he'll be ruthless in this. To respond, Brian, the Romney campaign went up with its own ad, what they believe is a Bain success story. It's about a company called Steel Dynamics in Indiana, that Bain essentially helped restart from scratch.
WILLIAMS: And Chuck, it's commencement season. Both Romney and President Obama chose audiences to go right after a red meat message, didn't they?
TODD: It sure did. You know, President Obama today was in New York City, speaking at his alma mater, actually on the campus of his alma mater, Columbia, but he was the commencement speaker for the all women's college Barnard, and it was there he sounded almost like a campaign speech, trying to drive up the gender gap, talk about women's issues. He really hopes that helps him. Mitt Romney on Saturday was at the evangelical school in Virginia called Liberty University. And it was there he sort of gave a speech, Brian, that was as much about talking about his Mormon faith and the things they have in common with the evangelical Christians, but the loudest applause line came when he talked about that he was for marriage between one man and one woman, Brian.
WILLIAMS: Chuck Todd in our D.C. newsroom with all things political tonight. Chuck, thanks.
Here is a portion of Curry's May 15 interview with Fehrnstrom:
CURRY: You know, meantime as we just heard in Chuck's report, there is this move now by the Obama campaign, aggressively, to now attack your candidate, his record at Bain Capital, including with this two-minute ad and the six-minute video, that really focuses on the closing of – of this steel mill. I wonder if Mitt Romney now thinks that closing of that steel mill was a mistake?
FEHRNSTROM: Well, I think these attempts by President Obama to distract from his own poor record on the economy is the biggest smokescreen since Mount St. Helens erupted. Look, Steve Ratner, I think had it right when he called this attack by the Obama campaign unfair. Steve Ratner is a former top official on the Obama economic team, and he said that Bain Capital has a superb reputation in the community and that they acted responsibly, and that they're one of the leading private equity firms in the world. Look, we know from our own 401(k) investments that not every stock we buy, not every company we invest in, turns out to be a winner. But over the long haul, Mitt Romney has had many more successes than failures. He's learned from both experiences, and that's what makes him so qualified to lead on jobs and the economy.