Nadler, on surrogate duty, says Romney was practicing private equity ‘wrong’ and ‘with little conscience’

Jerry Nadler, Jay Jacobs and Julie Kushner. (Reid Pillifant)
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According to Representative Jerry Nadler, Democrats who are alarmed by the Obama campaign's attacks on private equity are "misunderstanding" the message.

"I don't think the campaign is attacking private equity per se," Nadler said this afternoon, at a press conference at a local office of the United Auto Workers. "Private equity is a great business that very often rescues companies, restructures themand saves jobs.

"What the campaign is saying is that private equity can also be used by people with little conscience to destroy companies, to take value out of those companies, make profits for a few people and destroy lots of jobs. Mitt Romney as head of Bain did that."

Nadler was appearing alongside the outgoing chair of the state party, Jay Jacobs, and Julie Kushner, a regional director of the U.A.W., in a press conference timed to coincide with Romney's latest fund-raising swing through the city.

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The message was a little muddled, in that Kushner talked mostly about the auto bailout, while Nadler and Jacobs did their best to thread the needle presented to them by the Obama campaign, which is to attack Romney's record at Bain Capital, one of the more respected companies in private equity, without attacking the private-equity industry itself.

The idea is to discount Romney's claims on job creation, by stressing that his record at Bain wasn't about creating jobs.

"That was not his mission," Jacobs said. "As such, he needed to practice a very ruthless form of business. I'm not characterizing it as good or bad, but it's just a different type of business than needs to be done if you want to be President of the United States. As president, you don't have the luxury to be ruthless. Your constituency is everybody in America."

Nadler cited the example of GST Steel, one of the companies featured in the campaign's anti-Bain ads, as an example of Romney practicing private equity savagely, by saddling a company with debt while paying dividends to themselves.

 

"Most private-equity people do a fine job and help the economy and take fair profits," Nadler said. "What the campaign is saying is not that there's anything against private equity when done right. It's against some people who do it wrong, like Mitt Romney."