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Is Mitt Romney really a job creator? What his Bain Capital record shows.

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“The reality is in the private sector that there are some businesses that are growing and thriving, and we were fortunate enough to be able to be a part of that in a small way,” Romney said in mid-January after a campaign event in South Carolina. But “there are some businesses that have to be cut back in order to survive.... Sometimes we’re successful at that, and sometimes we’re not.”

Romney is the first modern financier to run for the Oval Office, says political scientist William Grover of St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt. H. Ross Perot was viewed as a high-tech executive, and Jimmy Carter as a small-scale peanut farmer. George W. Bush had business experience, but he was seen more as governor of Texas (never mind that Romney was governor of Massachusetts).

How will Americans feel about a candidate who made his fortune buying and selling companies? Polls show that the public has a low regard for Wall Street bankers, says Mr. Newport. Romney would be wise to brand himself as an entrepreneur, perhaps of a small business. “That works well,” Newport says.

But that would be changing history.

In the late 1970s, Romney, after graduating from Harvard Business School, went to work at consulting firm Bain & Co., founded by Bill Bain. The Bain method was for its consultants to become intimately familiar with its clients’ work and competitors, and even to make sure clients followed its advice.

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