Private companies are rarely a major issue in American presidential election campaigns. But some observers say that could change this year because of Bain Capital.
Bain Capital is an investment company with offices in Boston, Massachusetts. Mitt Romney, the likely Republican Party candidate for president, helped start the company. Profits from Bain Capital have made Mr. Romney very wealthy.
Recently, President Obama has begun asking questions about Mister Romney's involvement with the company. The two men are set to face each other in the November elections.
Bain Capital is a private equity company. It uses money from wealthy individuals and financial organizations to buy other businesses. It then works to increase their profitability before selling them, often at a huge profit. Bain is one of America's leading venture capital companies. Its partners reportedly manage sixty-five businesses said to be worth about sixty billion dollars.
Mitt Romney helped to organize the company in nineteen eighty-four. Mister Romney led Bain until he left in nineteen ninety-nine. He says the businesses Bain bought and directed during his years with the company created about one hundred thousand jobs.
Mister Romney has said that his time at Bain was more important to him than his years as governor of Massachusetts. He says both jobs gave him the experience and skills necessary to help the American economy. The former governor spoke at a recent campaign event. He said Mister Obama has failed in his efforts to strengthen the economy.
ROMNEY: "He has spent more and borrowed more. The time has come for a president, a leader, who will lead. I will lead us out of this debt and spending inferno."
He also said that, if elected, he will change the way Washington operates.
ROMNEY: "We need a president who understands the power of free enterprise because he's lived it. And I have, and I will, and I'll make sure that is part of our future."
Mister Obama and his campaign have sharply different ideas about Mister Romney's time at Bain Capital. They have advertisements that describe how some of Bain's investments failed. The ads say the company's decisions cost thousands of workers their jobs, while Bain earned big profits on its investments.
OBAMA: "I will say today, I think there are folks who do good work in that area and there are times where they identify the capacity for the economy to create new jobs or new industries. But understand that their priority is to maximize profits and that's not always going to be good for communities or businesses or workers."
Mister Obama has dismissed Mister Romney's claim that his years at Bain make him the right person to fix the economy.
Several studies show that the economy will be the top issue in the election campaign. That means the president will have to spend a lot of time defending his record. Democratic Party activists know many voters are unhappy about the economy. The president's supporters will note some improvements in the economy as evidence that the country is moving in the right direction.