Have you seen "When Mitt Romney Came to Town," the new attack ad in the form of a documentary released by the pro-Gingrich PAC Winning Our Future? You've got to watch it, because it is stunning. We've embedded a short (2:55) trailer for it below, but you can watch the full 28-minute doc, the subject of nonstop chatter in the political blogosphere since its release yesterday, at kingofbain.com.
"When Mitt Romney Came to Town" is both exactly what you'd expect -- a harsh attack on Romney -- and completely unexpected, in that it takes him down in a manner that 's entirely in sync with the rhetoric of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Romney is painted as a merciless, predatory, money-grubbing corporate raider who, as head of Bain Capital, bought companies, systematically stripped and destroyed them, and put thousands of people out of work while racking up breathtaking paydays (on the order of $100 million in one case) for Bain partners and investors. Pained and painful interviews with Romney's "victims" (think unemployed American heartlanders on the verge of tears) in four different cities are interspersed with snippets of Romney looking glib and greedy. (Of course, his famous "Corporations are people, my friend" line appears.) The doc ends with a series of stark-white-type-on-black-screen codas, including: "NEARLY EVERY U.S. STATE EXPERIENCED JOB LOSS FROM THE ACTIONS OF BAIN CAPITAL UNDER MITT ROMNEY."
How overblown is the video? Though it uses plenty of hoary, by -the-book documentary manipulations -- like, no kidding, black-and-white stock footage of some sinister-looking white guy smoking a cigar (fat-cat Wall Street banker!) -- it also repeatedly cites contemporaneous news accounts that clearly outline both staggering job losses and obscene Bain profits. (It should be noted that some of the news outlets cited, such as The New York Times and NPR, aren't usually treated with such reverence by conservative documentarians.)
And in many ways Romney remains defenseless to the accusations made in the doc because, as Keach Hagey writes at Politico, answers to questions about Romney's activities at Bain "have proven elusive to even the country's best journalists because of the very private nature of private equity. The greatest privacy-destroying force known to man -- an American presidential campaign -- is going head-to-head with one of the most secretive redoubts of the American economy and for now, the door of Bain's vault is holding."
At any rate, "When Mitt Romney Came to Town" is the documentary that Occupy Wall Street never got around to making. I'm not kidding or exaggerating at all.
UPDATE: After the above was initially published, Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul emailed me a link to a post at fortune.cnn.com by Dan Primack titled "Gingrich's 'Bain bomb' fizzles," which challenges the veracity of various assertions made in the anti-Romney documentary. I told Ms. Saul that I'd be happy to update my post to note that the Romney campaign asked that I link to the Primack post, but I also asked her if the campaign would be issuing its own point-by -point rebuttal to the documentary (and the ads that are derived from it) or any other specific response, beyond sharing the Primack link. Ms. Saul wrote back with this statement (which she also issued to other news outlets around the same time):
"It is sad to see Speaker Gingrich and his allies so desperate to try and revive his campaign that they've resorted to blatant falsehoods and fabrications. These facts have been proven untrue and Speaker Gingrich himself said the ads should be taken down." -- Andrea Saul, Romney spokespersonShe also sent a link to an audio clip posted on YouTube titled "Newt Gingrich radio interview, WRKO, Howie Carr Show, January 10, 2012" in which he can be heard stating that "I'm glad to say publicly they should take that out of the ad if that 's in the ad" -- referring to the hyperbolic statement of a former employee of a company bought by Bain: "That hurts so bad to leave my home because of one man that 's got 15 homes."
P.S. PolitiFact's take: "We find that while the Romney family does own three houses collectively valued at nearly $20 million, based on the public records we've reviewed they don't own anything close to 15 homes."
Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.
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