Former Obama supporter slams private-equity attacks

Former Obama supporter and private-equity executive Donald Gogel criticized the Obama campaign's attacks on private equity and defended Mitt Romney's Bain Capital record, in an interview with Charlie Rose.

Gogel is the president and CEO of the private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, Inc.

CHARLIE ROSE: I’m pleased to have Donald Gogel at this table for the first time. He is a friend of mine and he knows the private equity business, and we want to put some context in that. It is also interesting that in 2008, he was a prominent supporter of President Obama.

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ROSE: Back to the steel company story. What should we know about that as far as you know? The one that the president and his campaign team point to as what can go wrong and what is a black mark on private equity?

GOGEL: Well, my only knowledge is what I read in the same press that you read. And if the coverage is correct, it is clearly unfortunate that the one steel mill did close—a factory was closed—and hundreds of jobs were lost, and that is absolutely a tragedy. You have to put that in the context of what happened in the steel industry generally, and whether you were private-equity owned, publicly owned, family owned, steel industry’s been through a tough time. Factories did close down. I just don’t think it makes sense to point to private equity as the villain in job destruction.

ROSE: You were a strong supporter of the president in 2008. Are you concerned about the nature of this rhetoric?

GOGEL: I am. I am because although I am not deeply involved and don’t expect to be in politics per se, I care deeply about this country. I care deeply about the policies that will be passed, that will be championed by the president and hopefully passed by Congress. I hope that they’re going to take on a more constructive tone towards business and be a pro-growth set of policies. I recognize it’s complicated; I recognize there’s partisanship; I recognize people have gotten elected; but I’m concerned that in the noise—in the tornado of politics, and unfortunately, it’s become a tornado—we’re going to lose what is most essential to this country, which is the ability for individuals to band together, free association, free enterprise, create businesses and create jobs.

ROSE: You told me in a Business Week interview, when I asked you, were you a strong supporter of President Obama and were you now trending to support Gov. Romney?

GOGEL:What I said then and what I’ll say now is that I believe a number of the policies Gov. Romney is proposing are pro-growth. We’d like to see a lot more—it’s a long time between now and the election. I think we’ll see more about the policies for job formation, about tax reform, a variety of other things. But right now, I am disappointed that President Obama—

ROSE: You think right now that Gov. Romney is better for the economy and for business?


ROSE: And you’re more likely to support Gov. Romney than President Obama?

GOGEL: I am.