AdWatch: Obama ad says Romney sent jobs overseas

TITLE: "Swiss Bank Account"

LENGTH: 30 seconds.

AIRING: In the battleground states of Virginia, Ohio and Iowa.

KEY IMAGES: The ad opens with the words, "Over the top, erroneous, out of context" and shows images of a wind farm with the words, "Big oil's new attack ad," a reference to a recent ad by a conservative group charging that money from the 2009 economic stimulus package went to overseas green-energy companies.

Obama is then pictured next to a U.S. map that shows domestic clean energy projects financed by the Energy Department. The ad says Obama helped create jobs in America, not overseas.

Next is a photo of presumptive Republican election rival Mitt Romney alongside a world map, saying that as a corporate chief executive he shipped jobs to Mexico and China. As Massachusetts governor, Romney "outsourced state jobs to a call center in India," the ad says, as a picture of the Taj Mahal flashes by.

The ad then displays a shuttered warehouse and accuses Romney of seeking tax breaks for companies that want to ship jobs overseas, concluding, "It's just what you expect from a guy who had a Swiss bank account."

ANALYSIS: The ad by Obama's presidential campaign is intended to defend the president's record on clean energy, a continuing focus of GOP attacks, and to portray Romney as a corporate raider who helps companies create jobs overseas.

Americans for Prosperity, founded by the billionaire oil industry brothers Charles and David Koch, spent more $6 million this year on ads criticizing Obama over Solyndra, a California-based solar energy company that went bankrupt despite a $528 million federal loan.

More recently, the group said that Obama, through the economic stimulus law, helped foreign companies that moved jobs overseas, including some that make wind turbines or electric cars. Independent analysts have said that while some foreign-based companies received loans or tax credits under the stimulus law, the companies have U.S. subsidiaries that benefitted from federal aid.

While the ad highlights the Energy Department's clean energy program, it fails to mention several high-profile failures, including Solyndra and Beacon Power Corp., a Massachusetts energy storage company that also went bankrupt after receiving a federal loan. The government lost $567 million from those two loans alone.

The ad's focus on outsourcing underscores a key Obama tactic: Assailing Romney's work in Massachusetts and as head of the investment firm Bain Capital to raise doubts about how he would guide an economy still rebounding from a deep recession.

The ad's claim that Romney, as Bain CEO, shipped jobs overseas is accurate but somewhat misleading. By its nature, venture capitalism often results in lost jobs because profitability and efficiency are crucial to investors, not how many people are on the payroll. Bain Capital profited in cases where U.S. employment went both up and down

Under Romney, Bain Capital earned a reputation for turning around struggling companies and establishing well-known brands such as Domino's Pizza and the Staples office supply retailer. But that success came at a cost. A review by The Associated Press shows that Bain wrung profits out of many companies it took over by slashing costs and trimming the work force. Some of the companies that Bain took over while Romney was leading it ended up shipping jobs overseas.

The ad's largely negative tone underscores the Obama campaign's attempt to define Romney as a wealthy businessman out of touch with average Americans.

As Massachusetts' governor Romney vetoed a 2004 bill that would have barred vendors doing business with the state from sending jobs overseas. He was quoted in news stories at the time as saying the Democrat-written plan was hastily crafted and would drive away some businesses while failing to create jobs at home.

Romney reported in a recent financial disclosure that he had a Swiss bank account, which he closed in 2010. Romney advisers say the investments were reported on tax returns and were a not a vehicle to avoid taxes.


Associated Press writer Andrew Miga contributed to this report.


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