AdWatch: Ad glosses over Romney's Mass. record

July 31, 2012 - 1:50 PM
Poland Romney

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks with Polish WWII veterans and a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp after laying a wreath at the Warsaw 1944 Uprising monument in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, July 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

WASHINGTON (AP) — TITLE: "Believe In Our Future"

LENGTH: 60 seconds.

AIRING: Mitt Romney's campaign did not disclose where the ad is running.

KEY IMAGES: Opens with Romney getting into a dark-colored SUV. "My own experience was I got the chance to start my own business," he says, looking from the driver's seat to a camera behind him. "I know what it's like to hire people and to wonder whether you're going to be able to make ends meet down the road. Freedom and enterprise are what create jobs, not government."

Images of Romney greeting people and a tableau of American flags follow, as Romney touts his work running the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City: "I came in and found that we had not only a scandal to deal with, but also a financial crisis to deal with. By the time the games were over, we had about a hundred million dollars that we put into an endowment there for the future of Olympic sport."

Next, Romney cites his fiscal stewardship as Massachusetts governor. "The real experience was in Massachusetts," he says. "I found a budget that was badly out of balance. We cut our spending. Our Legislature was 85 percent Democrat and every one of the four years I was governor, we balanced the budget."

There's also a scene of Romney giving a speech in a small-town setting: "I want to use those experiences to help Americans have a better future. We believe in our future. We believe in ourselves. We believe the greatest days of America are ahead."

ANALYSIS: The ad released by Romney's campaign and the Republican National Committee attempts to paint a positive picture for the many voters who still don't know much about him. It highlights his success in business, credits him for saving the troubled Olympics and solving a state's budget crisis, and suggests he'll be able to fix the nation's struggling economy.

But the ad doesn't tell the full story of how he handled the fiscal crisis when he took over as Massachusetts governor in 2003.

Romney's claim that he erased a $3 billion budget shortfall without raising taxes ignores important facts. While he didn't raise state income or sales taxes, he and Democratic lawmakers raised hundreds of millions of dollars through new and higher fees on everything from marriage licenses to real estate transactions to gun licenses. It was a way for Romney to boost state revenue and ease the budget squeeze while technically sticking to his pledge not to raise taxes.

Under Romney, the state also raised an additional $350 million to $375 million annually for three years by closing what his administration called business tax "loopholes." Many business executives saw the moves as tax increases just the same. Romney also got a boost from a massive $1.1 billion package of tax hikes passed by the Democrat-controlled Legislature the year before he took office. The increased revenue in his first year as governor helped cut the deficit nearly in half.

Romney's boast about balancing the state budget every year in office also ignores that state law requires a yearly balanced budget.

He also trumpets having started his own business, but doesn't mention the name of the private venture capital firm he co-founded, Bain Capital. The Obama campaign has attacked Romney's Bain ties for weeks, saying in one ad that Romney's companies were "pioneers in outsourcing U.S. jobs to low-wage countries."

The full extent to which Romney-owned companies have outsourced is not clear. But there's no question that Bain invested in businesses that moved jobs overseas to cut costs — a trend that began in the 1990s and which many U.S. companies followed. Romney insists job outsourcing was not a Bain policy when he was in charge.

As the ad claims, Romney led the revival of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games, which had become mired in a bid-rigging scandal and financial troubles. The Olympics produced a $100 million surplus after Romney trimmed the budget, boosted revenue and worked to repair the committee's reputation with sponsors. The games also were boosted by unprecedented federal support, in large part due to security concerns after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.