Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley accused presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney of shedding "crocodile tears" for factory workers, while having helped engineer the export of US manufacturing jobs as head of Bain Capital LLC.
"Mitt Romney stands up in front of factory gates and cries crocodile tears and falsely claims that the president is sending jobs to other countries, and yet he made a big profit telling American companies just how they could move jobs to other countries," O'Malley, a Democrat, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television's "Political Capital With Al Hunt" airing this weekend.
The Washington Post reported June 21 that Bain, the Boston-based private-equity firm that Romney helped found in 1984, invested in multiple firms specializing in relocating US jobs to low-wage countries such as China and India during the 15 years that he was involved in running the company.
The former Massachusetts governor's campaign pushed back against the Post story, with Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul calling the report "fundamentally flawed," because "it does not differentiate between domestic outsourcing versus off-shoring," or address work done overseas to support US exports.
O'Malley, one of Barack Obama's top surrogates as the president battles Romney for re-election, called the report "a legitimate story."
O'Malley, 49, said the Post story was just a symptom of a more serious Romney flaw.
"The deeper disqualification of this, beyond his lack of sincerity and the crocodile tears for factory jobs lost, is that he has no record as a job creator," said O'Malley, the head of the Democratic Governors Association. "The bigger point of the story I believe is that his work at Bain was about wealth consolidation, not about job creation in the United States."
Romney, in making his business background the central theme of his White House bid, has said that during his tenure at Bain the firm created 100,000 jobs.
Neither the private-equity firm nor Romney's campaign has documented that figure in response to repeated requests by Bloomberg News. Bain Capital doesn't track jobs lost or gained as a result of their investments.
O'Malley, who won a second term as governor in 2010 while Republicans made historic gains in congressional elections, said Obama "may well win by a larger margin than any of the pundits in town are predicting" in November's election.
"And in the meantime, we have to make sure that we do a better job as a party of explaining the things that we must do as a people so our children are more likely to be winners rather than losers in this big, changing economy," he said.
O'Malley, a former Baltimore mayor and city council member, beat former Republican governor Bob Ehrlich by 14 percentage points to win a second term in 2010. The race was a rematch of the 2006 election in which O'Malley ousted Ehrlich from the governor's office.
Asked whether he contemplates a future presidential run for himself, O'Malley said, "Only when reporters ask me, and my mom."
Obama leads Romney 53 percent to 40 percent among likely voters, even as the public gives him low marks on handling the economy and the deficit, and six in 10 say the nation is headed down the wrong track, according to a Bloomberg National poll conducted June 15-18.
The poll found that a plurality of likely voters disapproves of Obama's handling of the economy, budget deficits, job creation and trade with China.
O'Malley said the poor marks were part of evolving conversations both campaigns were having with voters who face a "stark choice" on Nov. 6.
"Every voter wants to - wants it known that they're not happy with the pace of our progress, and none of us really should be happy with the pace of our progress," he said. "At the end of the day though, there will be a choice made between two alternatives, two individuals. And I believe that the president will prevail because his message is more optimistic, it's more forward looking, and it's more truthful and realistic."
O'Malley said Obama's vision for economic recovery in a second term is "a vision of a country that's still expanding, still growing, creating jobs and expanding opportunity, and a country that realizes that in order to do that we have to not only balance our budget, but make critical investments to educate, innovate and rebuild our country, just as our parents and grandparents did."
Democrats have been publicly and privately divided over the merits of attacking Romney's record at Bain, which has been targeted in advertisements by the Obama campaign.
Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, on May 20 called the debate "nauseating to the American public," and likened it to proposed Republican attacks tying Obama to his former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr., who once urged blacks to sing "God damn America" instead of "God Bless America."