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The president's punching bag

Posted: July 17, 2012 5:34 p.m.
Updated: July 18, 2012 5:00 a.m.

There’s no doubting Mitt Romney when it comes to job creation. Even President Obama’s supporters have patted him on the back for it. Unfortunately for the Republican nominee, the devil is in the details.

The Democrat’s true view of Romney’s “success” as a job creator has become clear throughout the campaign. It’s even developed into a standard punch line for Joe Biden on the campaign trail.

“I give Mitt Romney credit,” Vice President Biden always jokes, “He’s a job creator … they’ve just all been overseas.”

By taking a quick glance at Obama’s website, you can even find a map detailing the jobs Romney has supposedly outsourced to countries outside of the United States.  

But are these attacks fair? Well yes and no.

It seems that in Romney’s eyes, his business background all but qualifies him to be president. His time at Bain Capital, CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympics, and to some degree, even his dad’s leadership of American Motors in the 1950s have been listed as part of Romney’s candidate credentials.    

While Romney’s business background is impressive, it’s certainly not a guarantee for presidential success.

Among our most successful presidents in the modern era, few, if any, actually ran successful private businesses.

Going down the list, out of Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton, none had any true business credentials.

Each, however, were popular presidents and were all elected to second terms.

Two successful businessmen -- George H.W. Bush, an oil man, and Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer -- actually presided over lackluster economies and only served single terms.

If anything, the idea of success in business translating to success as president is a myth.

But Romney shouldn’t be denigrated for his business prowess. He’s acquired quite a fortune over the years, estimated to be around $200 million.

If the Democrats are going to chastise Romney only for his wealth, they’ll easily lose that debate. On the other hand, Romney shouldn’t be allowed to speak in broad terms when it comes to his time a businessman.

His record of profitability at Bain has become somewhat of a mystery, along the same lines as his refusal to release any tax returns from before 2010. Add that to his so-called “tax haven” accounts in Bermuda and Switzerland and consequently, there seems to be many pieces of the puzzle missing.    

Obama’s former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs effectively mocked Romney, noting “I just pick a bank because there’s an ATM near my home,” a sentiment that will probably resonant with voters.  

Fellow Republican Newt Gingrich even called out the former governor on his offshore assets.

“I don’t know any president who has ever had a Swiss bank account,” Gingrich said.  

While some will debate that this election should be more about Romney’s job creation policies and not his past business record, the Democrats are undoubtedly going to rely on repeated blows to Romney’s history in the private sector.

Independents in particular will likely view the former governor’s record outside of government on the same level as his time as a public official. As with all elections, there will be Democrats writing off Romney simply because he’ll have an “R” next to his name. Same goes for Republicans and the “D” listed next to Obama.

But when it comes to electing the president, every aspect of the candidate’s record, regardless of party, should be taken into consideration.

Unfortunately for Obama’s backers, that certainly also includes the president’s anemic job creation numbers since being elected four years ago.

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