News / USA

Bain Capital Becomes an Issue in US Presidential Campaign

Republican presidential candidate Romney speaks in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, May 18, 2012.Republican presidential candidate Romney speaks in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, May 18, 2012.
x
Republican presidential candidate Romney speaks in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, May 18, 2012.
Republican presidential candidate Romney speaks in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, May 18, 2012.
Ken Bredemeier
Private corporations seldom assume a prominent role in U.S. presidential election campaigns.  But analysts say that could be the case this year as attention is focused on Bain Capital, an investment company headquartered in the northeastern city of Boston. 

It was founded by the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, and his profits from operating the company have made him a very wealthy man.  And ahead of the November election, his Democratic opponent, incumbent President Barack Obama, is questioning Romney's role in the company when he was at Bain. 

Bain Capital is a private equity firm.  At such investment companies, wealthy individuals and financial institutions pool their capital to buy corporations and then try to increase their profitability before selling them, typically at a considerable profit.  Bain is one of the most prominent venture capital companies in the United States.  And the firm says its partners manage about $60 billion in assets in 65 companies.

The company says its mission is "produce superior investment returns for our investors."  This week, Bain, along with several other U.S. private equity firms, sold the second-largest movie theater chain in America - AMC Entertainment Holdings - to a Chinese conglomerate for $2.6 billion.

Bain was started by Mitt Romney and others in 1984, and he headed the company until he left it in 1999.  He says the companies Bain bought and nurtured during his tenure created some 100,000 jobs.  Now, Romney says his experience at Bain, more than his tenure as governor of the northeastern state of Massachusetts, gives him the background and skills needed to boost America's sluggish economy.

At a recent campaign rally, Romney told voters that President Obama has failed in trying to resurrect the U.S. economy from its worst downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

"This is the longest recovery from a recession in American history," said Romney. "And people are suffering because of the policies of this administration."

Romney said that if he is elected, he will transform the deficit-ridden U.S. government. "With my vision, we're going to finally have a balanced budget in this country," he said. "I'll get us on track and finally stop spending more than we take in."

Mr. Obama and his campaign have a sharply different view of Romney's tenure at Bain.  They are airing commercials in politically key states, outlining how some of Bain's investments went sour - costing thousands of workers their jobs, even as Bain turned massive profits on its investments.

Although the president this week described private equity as a "healthy part of the free market," he emphasized its downside.

"I will say today, I think there are folks who do good work in that area and there are times where they identify the capacity for the economy to create new jobs or new industries, but understand that their priority is to maximize profits and that's not always going to be good for communities or businesses or workers," said President Obama.

Mr. Obama dismissed Romney's contention that his years at Bain made him qualified to fix the American economy.

"And so if your main argument for how to grow the economy is, 'I knew how to make a lot of money for investors,' then you're missing what this job [being president of the United States] is about," said Obama. "It doesn't, it doesn't mean you weren't good at private equity, but that's not what my job is as president.  My job is to take into account everybody, not just some.  My job is to make sure that the country is growing not just now, but 10 years from now and 20 years from now."

Many U.S. voters might not have heard of Bain Capital or maybe know little about the company's operations during the time Mitt Romney headed the company.  But with less than six months until Election Day, analysts say it is almost certain that Bain will play a major role in this year's presidential campaign.

You May Like

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs