Romney’s Profitable Past

A National Review Editorial

Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Jon Huntsman seem to be engaged in a perverse contest to be the Republican presidential candidate to say the most asinine thing about Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, the private-equity firm at which he served as chief executive, helped turn around a number of failing businesses, and, in the process, produced magnificent profits for his investors and for himself. Mitt Romney ran a firm that invested in struggling businesses, made money, and never asked for a bailout — and Romney’s rivals apparently expect Republican voters to regard that as a liability.


We are largely immune to the charms of the CEO who promises to sweep into Washington and run the government like a business, mainly because the government is not a business. At the same time, private-sector expertise and experience is an invaluable thing in a chief executive, and Romney has nothing to regret on that front. Would that we could say the same thing of his tin-eared declaration that he, too, once feared getting the dread pink slip. Suffice it to say that the multimillionaire/CEO/governor son of a multimillionaire/CEO/governor does not fear losing his job in quite the same way as the typical American worker does.


Newt Gingrich’s risible super-PAC factotum has gone to the length of producing a feverish little film about Romney’s tenure as a “corporate raider” at Bain. Governor Perry, for his part, told a Republican audience: “If you are the victim of Bain Capital’s downsizing, it is the ultimate insult for Mitt Romney to come to South Carolina and tell you he feels your pain — he caused it.” To appropriate Governor Perry’s favorite adjective, that is the ultimate in populist pandering, or something close to it.


Huntsman’s private-sector experience consists of having served as an executive at the firm owned by his billionaire father. Gingrich and Perry have between them about eleven minutes’ worth of relevant private-sector experience — Perry being subsidized by the federal government to farm cotton, Gingrich subsidizing himself by farming his political connections — and therefore may not know (or care) what a private-equity firm such as Bain does. (Gingrich might consider asking his friends at leveraged-buyout firm Forstmann Little, where he was on the board.) Bain is involved in, among other things, leveraged buyouts, meaning that the firm and its investors borrow money from banks to acquire companies, usually firms that are in trouble but believed to be salvageable. These firms generally are bought on the theory that they represent fundamentally sound underlying business enterprises that are for one reason or another performing deficiently, usually because of incompetent management. Strong, thriving companies rarely are targets for leveraged-buyout acquisitions — if things are going well, there is no incentive to sell the company. If the firms are publicly traded, they often are taken private, their stocks delisted from the exchanges, and then reorganized. Once the company has been returned to profitability, it is taken public again or sold to a private buyer, in the hopes of turning a profit on the deal.


As you can imagine, companies that are buyout targets often are in very poor shape, and reviving them is no small thing. Many of them go into bankruptcy. Product lines are discontinued, retail locations are closed, assets are sold off, and, almost inevitably, jobs are lost. Some never recover. When the restructuring is successful, reinvigorated firms expand, add locations, develop new products, and create jobs. That is the creative destruction of capitalism. Staples has 2,000 stores instead of one store because of a Bain investment. And, as Herman Cain is well-positioned to appreciate, Burger King was severely underperforming when Bain and a group of franchise owners acquired it from corporate parent Diageo in 2002. The restructured burger chain, which went public a few years back, is now valued at more than $3 billion. Household names from Dunkin’ Donuts to Guitar Center have been among Bain’s projects.


Bain’s business is high-risk and high-reward. Romney made a pot of money — by investing in real businesses, which, it bears noting, employ many thousands of real Americans. Governor Perry likes to brag about the jobs created in Texas during his tenure: Perhaps he should subtract from that admirable sum those positions at companies in which Bain invested, for the sake of his intellectual integrity.


Romney also is being roasted for saying that one of the things he prefers about the private sector is that when it comes to the incompetent or the unsatisfactory, “if you don’t like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.” Choice — including the choice to fire a non-performing employee, or to fire your bank if you prefer another one — is the essence of the free market. In education, health care, and any number of other spheres of American life, more choice desperately is needed. An education system in which incompetent teachers could be routinely fired would be a real improvement over the current regime of tenure and “rubber rooms” — and Romney has nothing for which to apologize in connection with that remark, nor for taking on the thankless task of explaining the goodness of profits to an Occupy Wall Street heckler. Huntsman mocked Romney for the remark — but whoever the next president of the United States is, he should be provided with a very long list of people in the federal bureaucracies who need firing. If Huntsman does not have one, he has not thought hard enough about the issue.


Wall Street has its share of miscreants, and they should be recognized as such when appropriate. But to abominate Mitt Romney for having been a success at the business of investing in struggling American companies, connecting entrepreneurs with capital and producers with markets, is foolish and destructive. Republicans ought to know better, and the fact that Gingrich et al. apparently do not is the most disturbing commentary on the state of the primary field so far.

Posted: January 10th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: 2012 Presidential Politics | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Bayshore Tea Party Group Grills Roemer

Former Lousiana Governor Buddy Roemer dances with a question from a Bayshore Tea Party Group member.

Former Lousiana Governor Buddy Roemer dances with a question from a Bayshore Tea Party Group member.

A presidential candidate visiting New Jersey at this point in an election cycle is usually looking for money, like Mitt Romney will be doing in Parsippanny on Monday.

Why former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer requested to meet the Bayshore Tea Party Group yesterday remains a mystery.   If he wanted money, he never asked for it.  He touted the fact that he won’t accept donations over $100, and that his average donation is $55, but he never asked.  He boasted that he’s raised “a third of a million dollars.”

Asked why he was spending a Saturday in December in New Jersey rather than Iowa or New Hamsphire, Roemer responded, “I’m not in Iowa because it costs $2 million to compete there and I don’t have $2 million.  I am in New Hampshire.  A lot of people are going to be surprised by my showing in New Hampshire.”

Roemer’s conservative yet populist message would seem to be a perfect fit for the Tea Party crowd.  But Roemer clearly wasn’t prepared to be questioned by the group of 20 Tea Party members who are obviously as well informed as they are passionate.  He got himself in trouble with the group while embracing the Occupy Wall Street slogan of 1% vs 99%  while decrying the influence of money in the presidential campaign.  A debate ensued which devolved into bickering over whether or not corporations are people.  A Tea Partier arguing that corporations are shareholders, employees and customers.  Roemer arguing that a corporation has never been drafted into the military.  

No one born after 1957 has been drafted into the military either.

Roemer eventually backed off the 1% vs. 99% slogan, apologizing for “using the language of the day” to make a point.

Roemer said he was competing for the GOP nomination, while acknowledging that he has been in touch with Americans Elect 2012 about a third party candidacy.  That didn’t sit well with his audience either, who were concerned about a third party candidate helping President Obama get reelected and about Americans Elect’s funding from special interests.   Roemer acknowledged that he hadn’t vetted Americans Elect prior to allowing his name to be attached to the group.

The former governor and congressman was particularly critical of Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, decrying the special interests funding their campaigns.  He said Huntsman’s father is using legal loopholes to funnel $20 million to his son’s campaign.  Roemer really doesn’t like Gingrich, with whom he served in Congress.

“There is no president amongst the current GOP front runners,” Roemer declared.  There wasn’t a president at the Bayshore Tea Party Group office either.

At that’s too bad.  There is a great deal about Roemer’s core message that is attractive.

He favors a flat tax; 17% of all income for all, individuals and corporations, over the first $50,000 earned.  When asked about the fair tax, a national sales tax, Roemer said he could go that way too.

Roemer said he’s a fair trader, not a free trader.  He would use tariffs and economic sanctions to bring balance to our relationships with China and Saudi Arabia.  Tariffs on all oil importers, except Mexico and Canada, as well as the end of subsidies for unproven energy technologies, would be the keys to creating energy independence in a Roemer administration.

On foreign policy, Roemer said American should not be the world’s policeman.  That he would emphasize economic sanctions to advance our interests, but would keep a strong military in the background.  He was absolute that he would not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons.

Posted: December 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: 2012 Presidential Politics, Bayshore Tea Party Group | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Trump Debate

Jon Huntsman increased his name recognition 8000% by turning down the invitation to attend the Newmax ION TV presidential debate to be moderated by Donald Trump.

Huntsman, the former Utah governor and President Obama’s former ambassador to China, is now best known for saying he “won’t kiss his ring or any part of his anatomy,” about Trump while explaining why he won’t attend the debate.

Texas congressman Ron Paul joined Huntsman in turning down The Donald’s invitation, saying through a spokesman that a debate hosted by a reality TV star is beneath the dignity of the presidency.

Trump called Huntsman and Paul joke candidates.

All of the remaining GOP candidates for president have accepted the invitation, even though Trump has not ruled out running for president as an Independent himself.  Trump said he’s leaning toward endorsing a GOP candidate and that he might do so shortly after the debate.

The Trump debate will take place in Des Moines Iowa on December 27,  one week before the Iowa caucus and two weeks before the New Hampshire primary.

Millions will be tuning in to see who gets fired.

Posted: December 6th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: 2012 Presidential Politics | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Whitman A Leader Of Third Party Effort

Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman will not be joining Governor Chris Christie on the campaign trail for Mitt Romney.

Whitman is a director of Americans Elect 2012, a PAC that converted into an educational group so that it would not have to disclose its donors.   The group wants Americans to nominate a “centrist” Independent presidential candidate via Internet voting. They are working to secure ballot positions in all 50 states.  So far they’re on the ballots in Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Nevada, Michigan, Florida, Ohio, and Utah.  There are reports that they’ve submitted petitions in California and Hawaii.

Despite their success in collecting signatures to get on ballots, there is a lot of controversy about the group that will likely hamstring their efforts going forward.  There is a clause in their by laws that allows the group’s directors to disqualify “America’s” candidate.  They’ve got a rule restricting how their nominee selects his/her vice presidential candidate.  The group says it doesn’t support or oppose any particular candidate at this point, but Whitman has been promoting Jon Huntsman as a third party candidate and Mark McKinnon, another director of the group, said Mitt Romney doesn’t have the cojones to be president.

Sounds more like a three ring circus than a third party.  Besides, the Republicans look as though they are going to nominate a centrist in either Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich.  

As an aside, how long will it be before a highly paid national pundit writes a column about what it means about America that the three front runners for president have weird first names?

Even without the other controversies surrounding Americans Elect 2012, Whitman joining their board should be a sign of that the group is doomed to fail.  Her legacy as New Jersey’s Governor and as Administrator of the EPA under President George W. Bush is beyond embarrassing. 

The messes that Governor Christie is cleaning up now….the broke pension system, broke transportation trust fund, broke unemployment insurance fund, Abbot and COAH, were all started or made worse by Whitman and her appointees.   Shortly after 9-11, EPA Administrator Whitman declared the air at Ground Zero safe to breathe, thereby sending clean up workers to slow deaths and long term disabilities.

It’s little wonder that candidate Chris Christie declared that he’s not a Whitman Republican.

Despite Americans Elect’s foibles, a third party presidential candidate might be a good news for those who want President Obama to be a one termer.

In modern times, i.e., during the lifetimes of anyone likely to vote in 2012,  there have been only two elected incumbent presidents denied a second term by the voters; Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush.  Both had significant third party challengers during their reelection bids.  John Anderson, a Republican Congressman from Illinois ran against Carter and Ronald Reagan.  Reagan won.   Ross Perot, the populist Texas billionaire ran against Bush and Bill Clinton.  Clinton won.

The bad news, from a historical perspective, is that Carter and Bush 41 also faced significant primary challenges prior to being renominated.  Carter was challenged for the Democratic nomination in 1980 by Teddy Kennedy.  Bush was challenged for the 1992 GOP nomination by Pat Buchanan.

Reagan’s primary challenge against Gerald Ford in 1976, preceding Carter’s election, may indicate that an incumbent’s problems within their own party may be more of a detriment to reelection than a third party challenge.  Unfortunately, there is no Democrat seriously challenging Obama.

New York Post columnist John Podhoretz says New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is “clearly eyeing” a third party run for president.   A Bloomberg run might be America’s best hope of defeating Obama next year.   The Mayor has the resources to make a credible run and a nanny state record to appeal to enough dissatisfied Democrats and left leaning Independents.

Posted: December 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: 2012 Presidential Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels Will Not Run For President

By Art Gallagher

In an email to supporters sent early this morning, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels said he would not enter the race for the GOP nomination for president, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The two term governor who worked for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush said his decision came down to family concerns:

“I was able to resolve every competing consideration but one, but that, the interests and wishes of my family, is the most important consideration of all,” he said in an e-mail sent after midnight.

Daniels and his wife Cheri divorced in 1993 and remarried in 1997.  During those four years Cheri married a California man.  The Daniels’ four daughters, now adults, remained in Indiana with there father.  The Governor issued an other statement this morning to the Indianapolis Star this morning defending his wife against growing media scrutiny into their marriage, divorce, remarriage, and the claims by some that Cheri abandoned her daughters during their split:

“The notion that Cheri ever did or would ‘abandon’ her girls or parental duty is the reverse of the truth,” said his statement.

He called the idea “absurd to anyone who knows her, as I do, to be the best mother any daughter ever had.”

With Daniels out of the race, many observers expect the national Republican establishment to step up their efforts to recruit New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to seek the nomination.   Christie has repeatedly declared that he will not be a candidate while at the same time establishing himself as a national leader for education reform, entitlement reform and reducing the size of government.

Daniels withdrawal will also increase the focus on former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman.  Huntsman, who was President Obama’s ambassador to China,  is on a five day tour of New Hampshire.  He delivered the commencement address at Southern New Hampshire University and has made 12 campaign style stops throughout the Granite State.

If Huntsman formally enters the presidential race, for the first time two Mormons would be competing for a major party nomination.  Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the leader in most polls for the GOP nomination, is also a Mormon.

Posted: May 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: 2012 Presidential Politics | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments »