TAMPA — Team Obama attempted to discredit Mitt Romney during the opening moments of the Republican National Convention by holding a press conference featuring a handful of career politicians and Democratic operatives who railed against Romney’s business bona fides.
Speakers such as Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D) crowded into the Democrats’ Tampa Bay headquarters to highlight the story of so-called “Bain victim” Randy Johnson, a one-time paper mill employee who claims that Romney’s former investment firm, Bain Capital, destroyed his life.
Johnson, who worked at American Pad & Paper (Ampad) after Bain purchased the company in the early nineties, maintains that the investment firm callously managed the mill with an eye only towards profits.
Gibbs and others touted Johnson as a credible everyman, a blue-collar worker who is out to protect the American worker.
Yet they failed to mention that he draws a large paycheck from a liberal-leaning steel union and travels across the country on the Democratic National Committee’s dime, a disclosure that raises questions about Johnson’s credibility.
Johnson is a “living example of the type of economic leadership that Romney believes uniquely qualifies him to be president of the U.S.,” Gibbs said before Johnson took the podium at Obama headquarters in Tampa.
“We’re here to tell the truth,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa declared moments before Johnson told his story to reporters.
When Johnson finally made his remarks, he attempted to paint Romney as a hardnosed job destroyer, a claim that runs counter to the facts surrounding the Republican candidate’s tenure at Bain Capital.
“I saw firsthand how Mitt Romney and his economics … hurt families,” Johnson claimed, recalling the day that Ampad workers were given pink slips. “When you live that and see that you will never forget it and it’s real to the American people.”
Bain’s business tactics “devastated my family,” said Johnson, who earned $104,974 from United Steelworkers union in 2011.
Though he billed himself as a blue-collared fighter, Johnson has been living in the lap of luxury courtesy of the DNC for months, according to reports.
The DNC has paid for Johnson’s airfare to various partisan events across the country and had footed the bill for his hotel rooms, according to the New York Observer.
Johnson has even forced the DNC staffer who constantly shadows him to pay for his meals and highway tolls, the Observer noted.
Johnson “needled the DNC operative following him around for making him pay for tolls and buy lunch as they travelled around New Hampshire,” according to the Observer’s article.
Johnson also represented the United Steelworkers union on Ed Schultz's MSNBC show.
Johnson, in fact, has been excoriating Romney publicly since 2002, when he ran to become governor of Massachusetts.
In 2008, when Romney first ran for the White House, Johnson again popped up in the media landscape, feeding the Boston Globe similar talking points to those he touted in Tampa Tuesday.
When approached by a Free Beacon reporter about his partisan affiliations, DNC staff quickly swooped in to escort Johnson away, claiming that he was incapable of answering further questions.
“He has answered questions,” a DNC staffer said, interjecting himself between a Free Beacon reporter and Johnson.
Meanwhile, career politicians at the Obama campaign press conference attempted to downplay Romney’s experience in the private sector, which polls have found is a major selling point among likely voters.
Romney is a “corporate buyout specialist,” charged Maryland’s O’Malley, who also repeated debunked claims that Romney had outsourced jobs overseas.
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa went on to raise eyebrows when he cast a slur at Hispanic Romney supporters.
“You can’t just trot out a brown face or a Spanish surname and expect that people are going to vote for your party,” Villaraigose said, eliciting grunts from several reporters in attendance.