Remember when Mitt Romney couldn’t go five minutes without mentioning that, as head of Bain Capital, he’d provided funding for the office supply chain Staples? It formed the backbone of his defense of his business career because it was one of the few companies that crossed paths with Bain Capital and walked away without being gutted. Even if Romney’s involvement with Staples falls far short of his claims.
Mitt Romney even engaged in fuzzy math when it came to Staples, citing the jobs created by Staples for years after it parted with Bain as jobs he, Mitt Romney, was responsible for creating while heading Bain Capital. The Romney campaign has deployed Staples as a rhetorical talisman — an instantly identifiable business whose success, if imputed to Romney, could be grasped by any voter in the country.
But Mitt Romney isn’t talking about Staples much anymore as the company closes 75 stores worldwide. No word on how many employees in the U.S. will lose their jobs due to this restructuring, but it certainly seems fair to count these job losses on Romney’s ledger too…if he was willing to pretend he created them in the first place.
Not wanting to invite the connection between himself and the struggling office supply company, Romney is silent. But the loss of his primary rhetorical talisman for selling his role as a “job creator” is devastating to his campaign in states like Ohio where ads such as “Stage” by SuperPAC PrioritiesUSA Action are hammering home the image of Romney as a ruthless destroyer of profitable companies. Unable to counter with the happy tale of a thriving Staples, Romney is forced to try and shift the topic to uncomfortable areas like foreign policy and education, robbing his campaign of an overarching narrative and opening the candidate up to gaffes.
But in life there isn’t an “Easy” button for running a national campaign.