New Obama TV Ad Hits Romney on Outsourcing, Offshore Tax Shelters

Jill Lawrence

A tough new TV ad from the Obama campaign juxtaposes rival Mitt Romney singing “America the Beautiful” with captions about his offshore tax havens and alleged ties to job outsourcing while he led Bain Capital and the state of Massachusetts.

The new ad, called “Firms,” started airing Saturday in nine battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

There is no audio in the ad except Romney’s widely reported – and slightly off-key -- rendition of "America the Beautiful" at a campaign appearance last January in The Villages, Fla. The onscreen chyrons refer to Romney’s tax shelters in Switzerland, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. They also charge that the firms Bain invested in while Romney was at the helm “shipped jobs to Mexico,” and as governor of Massachusetts, he “outsourced jobs to India.”

The silent tagline: “Mitt Romney’s not the solution. He’s the problem.”

The campaign backs up its charges with references to multiple media reports. Some fact-checkers have said Romney should not be held responsible for Bain investments that occurred after February 1999, when he took a leave of absence to oversee the 2002 winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. And some reporting backs up his assertion that he was not managing Bain after that.

However, The Boston Globe reported that Securities and Exchange Commission filings by Bain describe Romney as its “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president” during that period, and the newspaper refused the campaign’s request for a correction. In addition, The Washington Post rejected the Romney campaign’s request for a retraction of a story tying Romney and Bain to firms that pioneered outsourcing during that period.

Romney did a round of TV interviews Friday to demand an apology from the Obama campaign, which accused him of lying about when he left Bain, and to try to lay the issue to rest. He said he owned the company while he was in Salt Lake City, but he did not manage its investments. He also said he would not release tax information beyond his 2010 return and an estimate for 2011.

Stuart Stevens, a top Romney strategist, accused the Obama team of mocking "America the Beautiful" and chalked up the new ad to the president's failure to break out of a tie with Romney, despite "almost $100 million" in spending. "So now I guess it's time to attack the middle class and patriotism," Stevens said in an email to National Journal. "This is what campaigns do when anger and frustration replaces hope and change."

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who is hosting the National Governors Association in Williamsburg this weekend, urged Obama to take the ad off the air. “It’s silly, it’s predictable, and it’s not accurate," he told ABC News. "Let's talk about the issues that people really care about in Virginia which is getting people back to work, getting people out of debt and having energy independence. Let’s focus on that.”