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Thursday, August 30, 2012

DealBook: Before Romney\'s Big Speech, a Focus on Bain

Mitt Romney's campaign Web site features videos focused on his time at the investment firm Bain Capital.

As Mitt Romney prepares to take the stage at the Republican National Convention on Thursday night to make his case for the presidency, his record at Bain Capital continues to be a focus - some might say the focus - of both his supporters and detractors.

Just hours before Mr. Romney's speech, his campaign started a Web site on Thursday - business.mittromney.com - devoted almost entirely on his years at the investment firm Bain Capital. “Governor Romney's work at Bain Capital was about fixing companies that were broken and giving new companies a shot at success,” reads the Web site's home page.

The site features nine one- to two-minute videos, each highlighting a successful Bain deal. Two videos focus on the office-supplies retailer Staples, one of Mr. Romney's most successful investments during hi s tenure at Bain. Both show Mr. Romney roaming the aisles at a Staples store wearing that a blue dress shirt with a contrasting white collar, a de rigueur uniform of 1980s Wall Street.

The Staples videos are featured under the “building businesses” category. Two other categories - “fixing businesses” and “growing business” - highlight other money-making Bain deals, including a revival of the gadget chain Brookstone and a venture investment in the mountain bike maker GT Bicycles. There is also a video chronicling Mr. Romney's rescue of Bain & Company, the management consulting firm where he started his career. Mr. Romney came back to the firm and led a turnaround. (Bain & Company spun off the private equity arm, Bain Capital, in 1984.)

Outside of Bain's New York headquarters on Thursday, no one was focused on the private equity firm's successes. Instead, all of the attention was on Bane, an imposing 10-foot-tall monster who lurched around the sun-kisse d Manhattan sidewalks lambasting Bain's business practices. Bane is the villain who faced off against Batman in this summer's blockbuster movie “The Dark Knight Rises.” It will be “a long dark night you'll be facing if Romney gets elected,” said Bane, according to Bloomberg News report.

The protest was organized by United NY, a coalition of labor unions and community organizations that has staged a number of demonstrations against Bain. Accompanying Bane was a woman from the Bronx who was recently laid off from her job at Burlington Coat Factory, a Bain-owned company.

Cara Noel, a United NY spokeswoman, said that it staged the protest because “we wanted to send a clear message that a Romney economy would not work for the middle class and for low-wage earners.”

Media outlets also continue to center on Mr. Romney's Bain years. Matt Taibbi, a writer who has made headlines for his screeds against Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street players, has now taken aim at Bain. In a new Rolling Stone article, Mr. Taibbi calls Mr. Romney “the hard-charging, chameleonic champion of a disgraced-yet-defiant Wall Street.”