DETROIT (May 24, 3:30 p.m. ET) — The Obama campaign continued its assault on Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital on Wednesday, as it said the investment firm that Romney founded was responsible for laying off nearly 1,000 employees at a now-defunct Michigan auto supplier.
Bain bought 39 percent of Madison Heights-based Cambridge Industries Inc. in 1995. Within two years, the investment firm owned a majority stake in the Cambridge. By 2000, Cambridge suffered financial trouble stemming from an overeager acquisition strategy, growing debt and years of earnings shortfalls.
That year Bain took Cambridge into Chapter 11 bankruptcy and sold the company to Dearborn-based Meridian Automotive Systems, which slashed more than 1,000 jobs. In its bankruptcy filing, Cambridge listed debt worth $459.7 million. In 2009, Meridian filed for bankruptcy and liquidated its assets.
Dozens of other large U.S.-based automotive suppliers reorganized or liquidated under bankruptcy protection over the same time period as the Cambridge and Meridian bankruptcies.
In the past few weeks, the Obama campaign has ratcheted up its focus on Romney's time at Bain, claiming that as a business executive, the presumptive Republican nominee was more interested in earning profits than creating jobs.
Democrats and Republicans have criticized the Obama campaign's strategy, saying it's overly critical of private enterprise. Still, speaking to reporters at the NATO summit in Chicago on Monday, Obama defended the approach.
The president said that private equity firms, like Bain, are a “healthy part of the free market,” but he dismissed Romney's claims that his private-sector experience qualifies him to be president.
“If your main argument for how to grow the economy is, ‘I knew how to make a lot of money for investors,' then you're missing what this job is about,” Obama said. “It doesn't mean you weren't good at private equity, but that's not what my job is as president.”