Mitt Romney is responsible for job losses at companies where he invested as chairman of a venture capital company, but President Obama is not responsible for the failure of green energy company Solyndra, the Democratic Party chief said Sunday when asked if the two men's records are comparable.
"It's total apples and oranges comparison," Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said on "Fox News Sunday."
Romney has touted his record of job creation as head of Bain Capital, a firm that he led for 15 years and experience he uses as an example of his business acumen.
Romney says Bain helped create a net 100,000 jobs, and ticked off several well-known companies -- Staples and Sports Authority, among them. But Democrats argue that Romney is not counting jobs lost in other companies that Bain took over.
At the same time, Democrats defend President Obama's record of job creation, saying that the U.S. economy has added more than 3.1 million private sector jobs in the last 22 months. They do not note that 6 million fewer people are participating in the labor force since Obama became president.
Among 1,000 people who've lost jobs recently are former employees of now-defunct solar power firm Solyndra, a centerpiece of Obama's green jobs program. The U.S. government invested $500 million in the firm before it declared bankruptcy last summer.
Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," Wasserman Schultz said the president wasn't CEO of Solyndra and therefore has no responsibility for the job losses. Asked if the president's role as "CEO of the country" amounts to the same role Romney took as head of Bain Capital, Wasserman Schultz said not at all.
"The president has responsibility for the green jobs programs where he made investments," she said. "But the decisions that were made at Solyndra that ultimately led to their bankruptcy were those of the people who worked at Solyndra."
On the other hand, Romney is responsible for companies that folded after Bain Capital's investments, she contended. One company often cited by Democrats is American Pad and Paper, a Kansas firm shut down by Bain after workers went on strike to protest the company's restructuring.
"Mitt Romney is responsible for being CEO of companies that he took over," Wasserman Schultz said. "He was the CEO of Bain. Bain bought these companies, took them over. ... Bain Capital owned those companies. He made the decision."
Democrats have been targeting Romney singularly and incessantly among the Republican presidential primary field since the primary voting began last week with the Iowa caucuses, which Romney won by a slim margin of eight votes. The attacks have frequently focused on Bain.
But the attacks are no longer the purview of Democrats. A similar criticism arose in Saturday night's debate when Newt Gingrich used the Democratic playbook and cited a New York Times report to suggest that Romney's company was predatory.
"You would certainly have to say that Bain, at times, engaged in behavior where they looted a company, leaving behind 1,700 unemployed people," Gingrich said Sunday, repeating in theme an attack from a debate the night before.
Speaking to Gingrich's comments, Romney said Saturday that it is unfortunate Republicans would take exception with the capitalist model.
"I'm not surprised to have 'The New York Times' try and put free enterprise on trial. I'm not surprised to have the Obama administration do that, either. It's a little surprising from my colleagues on this stage," Romney said.
"We understand that in the free economy, in the private sector, that -- that sometimes investments don't work and you're not successful. It always pains you if you have to be in a situation of -- of downsizing a business in order to try and make it more successful, turn it around and try and grow it again," he added.
Wasserman Schultz said Romney has rightly received the bulk of criticism because as the frontrunner, his record requires more scrutiny.
"Mitt Romney is one of the candidates who was near the top, or at the top of their field. And so, he invites and deserves that scrutiny because he has been distorting and mischaracterizing the president's record," Wasserman Schultz said. "And you know what? Other presidential candidate has taken that lying down and we're not going to."
In response to the assault, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told "Fox News Sunday" that "it's curious" Democrats would target Romney if they perceive him as so weak.
He added that Obama's own statement said that if unemployment hadn't dropped by his third year in office, he probably didn't deserve a second term.
"The reality is the president is the CEO. The fish rots at the head, millions of Americans don't feel better off today than they were three or four years ago," Priebus said.
"Our country is on the brink of an economic disaster that is very predictable ... And we are going to hold his presidency accountable to the words and promises that he made himself and he has failed this country," he said.