Midterm Ad Watch: The Republican Outsourcers

Bill Scher

In 2012, Republicans nominated for president a private equity firm CEO with a record of outsourcing jobs. It did not go well.

In several states for the 2014 midterm elections, Republicans have done it again. And it may cost them three gubernatorial seats and possibly control of the Senate.

Whenever possible, Democrats are reminding voters of their Republican opponents’ history in sending jobs to other countries. The National Journal has deemed it “The Democrats’ Most Effective Midterm Message” as the outsourcing charges are “successfully persuading undecided voters in close races.”

The most notorious case is in Georgia. In what will likely be the Worst Gaffe of 2014, Senate candidate David Perdue answered a question about how he could defend his past outsourcing by saying, “Defend it? I’m proud of it. This is a part of American business, part of any business. Outsourcing is the procurement of products and services to help your business run. People do that all day.”

His Democratic opponent Michelle Nunn has already cranked out three ads highlighting Perdue’s outright pro-outsourcing stance, and polls appear to be shifting in her favor in what was supposed to be an easy Republican victory. Here’s the one ad that uses the gaffe itself:

In Illinois, incumbent Democratic Governor Pat Quinn has not been beloved by voters. But he is holding on to a slim lead in part because he’s been able to define Republican nominee Bruce Rauner as an out-of-touch one-percenter. Here’s Quinn’s ad, clearly inspired by Obama’s 2012 ad featuring Romney’s off-key singing, hammering Rauner on his business record:

In Connecticut, Republican two-time gubernatorial challenger Tom Foley suffered attacks four years ago during his first run for profiting while driving a company into bankruptcy. Yet this year, he resurrected the episode by campaigning at a paper mill about to go under. When confronted by local politicians and workers, he scolded them for blaming the private equity owners: “You want to blame people who are hundreds or thousands of miles away, malign management … Listen, you have failed, because you have lost these jobs.”

Now a Democratic Governors’ Association Super PAC is running an ad featuring one of those works:

In the Massachusetts gubernatorial race, the Republican nominee Charlie Baker is running a strong campaign against Democrat Martha Coakley. But he may end up short after this DGA ad, which features footage from the fancy ballroom event when he accepted – and I am not making this up – the “Outsourcing Excellence Award” from the Outsourcing Center.

The problem for these candidates is not that they are successful businessmen. It’s that they have profited off of what voters see as a rigged game, and they are pushing policies that would rig the game further.

Contrast that with the Democratic nominee for governor in Pennsylvania: Tom Wolf, owner of a kitchen cabinet company. He is cruising in his challenge to the incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

When Wolf was asked about his business record, he doesn’t brag about killing American jobs or blame workers for the sins of management. He talks about investing in his workers: “At my company, I paid my workers a living wage, gave them great benefits, and even shared 20 to 30 percent of my profits with them.”

Republicans need to find a few CEOs like that to run for office. Maybe they will give the party a few policy ideas, too.

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