Obama's Bain Capital Attacks against Mitt Could Backfire

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by Michael Barone for TownHall.com

The ham-handed Barack Obama campaign attack ads on Mitt Romney's former firm Bain Capital have drawn a lot of ire from other Democrats.

And not just because they were sloppily fact-checked (the ads hit Romney for layoffs long after he left Bain) and because a leading Obama money bundler is a Bain executive himself.

Chiming in with various degrees of disapproval were Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker ("nauseating"), former Rep. Harold Ford, Obama car czar Steven Rattner, Sen. Mark Warner and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

There are other signs of unease among Democratic elites. Obama contributions from Silicon Valley and Wall Street have failed to match 2008 numbers.

But what about the voters? Will the Bain ads help Obama? Or could there be some Bain backlash at the polls?

Start with the fact that class warfare themes have less appeal than some people think. The last Democrat elected president on a class warfare platform was Harry Truman in 1948.

One reason is that affluent voters are turned off by demonization of the successful. Back in Truman's day, affluent voters outside the South voted Republican by huge percentages. There just weren't enough of them to elect Thomas Dewey.

Today, there are a lot more affluent people. The 2008 exit poll told us that 26 percent of voters had household incomes over $100,000. Half of them voted for Obama. He needs those votes again.

My hunch is that Obama's attacks on Bain will strike most affluent voters as off-putting and that Romney's calm responses will strike them as reassuring. If you want more jobs created, you don't go around attacking job creators.

Most affluent voters believe that free markets, appropriately regulated, tend to produce fair outcomes. They see investors not as vultures but as creators of jobs and promoters of innovation that increase national productivity and make everyone better off. They see class warfare as attacks on themselves.

Another vulnerability for Obama among the affluent may be his penchant for crony capitalism. The best known is the $535 million loan guarantee to the failed solar firm Solyndra, championed by an Obama fundraiser with plenty of access to the Obama White House.

It's not the only example. The Hoover Institution's Peter Schweizer reports that 71 percent of Obama Energy Department grants and loans went to Democratic bundlers and contributors.










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