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CNN's Cooper, Obama Campaign Clash Over Taking Money From Private Equity While Bashing Romney

Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman, can't answer questions about why President Obama will take money from private equity firms while at the same time bash Mitt Romney for his association with Bain Capital. Key parts of the segment are transcribed below.

Anderson Cooper, CNN: Ben, how can President Obama attack Mitt Romney on his time in a private equity at Bain highlighting only times when Bain cost company jobs and at the same time hold high priced fundraisers with the head of another private equity firm who's done work with Bain, the Blackstone Group, or hire people who've worked in other private equity firms in his own administration?

BEN LABOLT, OBAMA CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY: Well, you know, Mitt Romney hasn't been -- he hasn't been forthright with the American people about what he did during his tenures as corporate buyout specialist and what his goals were. He's been campaigning across the country telling people that he was a job creator. But he's never been able to substantiate a number of jobs that were created. That's because he -- his partners have admitted that the goal was wealth creation for themselves.


COOPER: Private equity is about wealth creation for investors. And I know that's not what he's saying, but that's what it is about. But I don't know understand why it's OK for the president's private equity supporters to bankrupt companies and put people out of work but it's not OK for Mitt Romney's equity firm to do that?

LABOLT: The president had support from business leaders across industries who agree with his vision of building an economy that's built to last. Where hard work and responsibility are rewarded. Where everybody from main street to Wall Street plays --

COOPER: But you said yourself that's not what private equity --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You yourself said that's not what private equity is about, and yet the president is accepting money from private equity firms. Isn't that hypocritical.

LABOLT: Who believe -- who believe that the right thing to do was put in place those protections to ensure that we never have a financial crisis like we did in 2008, and that middle class families across the country are not held hostage by risky financial deals.

Governor Romney would take a very different approach. He would repeal those protections. The fact is --

COOPER: OK. But you're not -- you're not answering any of the question. I mean I'm trying to figure out what is difference between Bain and Governor Romney's experience at private equity and the experience of private equity firms that the president is taking money from.

LABOLT: Well, here are the facts, Anderson. Governor Romney has based his candidacy for the oval office on his tenure as a corporate buyout specialist. He said that that's the economic record that we should evaluate. That that's the type of philosophy, economic philosophy he would bring into the oval office.

And we took a look at the record. We took a look at the fact that he loaded up companies with debt across the country. This case of Ampad plant in Marion, Indiana, 250 workers lost their jobs. Romney and his partners came in. They loaded the company up with debt. Laid off all of the workers, forced them to reapply for their jobs. Security guards bolted the doors. They went through the --

COOPER: I get it. People were laid off.


COOPER: That's what he said in the 35-second edited ad version that you tweeted out. But in the longer version and in his original comments that's what he said. I mean isn't -- do you -- or do you deny that you're engaging in any kind of personal attacks on Mitt Romney? Or is that -- or is it OK to do that? I'm not saying it's not.

LABOLT: Governor Romney believes that any discussion of his record is automatically negative campaigning which I think tells you something about his record. He's put this forward as his economic record. We'll talk about the president's economic record. We were losing 750,000 jobs a month when he came into office. Businesses have created more than 4.2 million. Private sector jobs, manufacturing was in decline. It's resurgent. The auto industry was on the brink. GM is the number one automaker in the world again. We'll talk about the president's record and we'll talk about Governor Romney's record.

COOPER: Ben Labolt, I appreciate you being on. Thanks.

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