YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Vice President Joe Biden, campaigning in Democratic territory with high unemployment, went after Republican Mitt Romney's business background Wednesday and cast him as a corporate raider more interested in profits than people.
Biden said the former businessman favors policies that benefit the well-to-do over average people. He said Obama wants to give everyone a fair shake and make sure everyone plays by the same rules.
The speech in Ohio, an economically battered state that will help decide the November presidential election, continued the effort by President Barack Obama's campaign to portray Romney as more in tune with rich people like himself.
Obama's campaign and an independent group that supports the president have begun airing ads in several states, including Ohio, that highlight the failure of a Missouri-based steel company that was bought by Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney helped get off the ground. GST Steel later went bankrupt in 2001, costing 750 people their jobs. Romney was no longer with Bain at the time of GST's collapse.
"Nobody knows better than the people in the (Mahoning River) valley the consequences of that kind of philosophy. You have been through hell and back," Biden said.
After Romney's company bought the Missouri steel company, its debt increased from $13 million to $533 million, Biden said. "When you get that kind of debt and things turn bad, you're dead, you're done," he said.
Biden said the company wound up in bankruptcy court, leaving employees without health care or pensions. Thirty top executives came away with $9 million and Romney and his partners came out with $12 million, Biden said.
In a response to the vice president, Bain Capital said it had tried to make GST prosperous amid a difficult steel industry environment.
Romney's campaign said he has a net job creation record both as a businessman and from his term as Massachusetts governor.
It countered the attack on Bain Capital by citing Solyndra, a California-based solar energy company that collapsed despite receiving more than $500 million in Obama administration loans.