Mitt Romney’s days at and after Bain have been largely unexamined in the primaries. None of the other candidates has the resources and organization to do the research, but others are and it will hurt Romney’s come the general election if he is the nominee because people will hear the details for the first time in September and October 2012.
For starters, no one has focused on the fact that Romney left Bain in 1999. “How many jobs have you created lately” comes to mind.
More important, as The NY Times reveals today, Romney has been living off the largess of his Bain investments, including participating in post-retirement deal profits since then including on some deals which enriched Bain and Romney while driving the company bankrupt:
The 2000 purchase of KB Toys, then one of the country’s largest toy retailers, became one of the most contentious.
As in most Bain deals, the partnership put up a small fraction of the money — in this case $18 million — and borrowed the rest of the $302 million purchase price. Just 16 months later, the toy company borrowed more to pay Bain and its investors an $85 million dividend.
That gave Mr. Romney and the other partners a quick 370 percent return on their money. But it also left the toy company with a heavy debt burden. Before long, the company began closing stores around the country and laid off 3,400 workers. It filed for bankruptcy protection in 2004.
I don’t consider Bain a disqualifier for Romney at all. But what is amazing is that no one is vetting the potential downside to his general election prospects, other than an occasional story in the mainstream media. Instead, the conservative media is running magazine covers with Romney’s lead challenger depicted as a martian and demonizing anyone who brings up Bain as a socialist.
We are on the cusp of nominating a known unknown.