Missourians share spotlight in presidential contest, even if state might not
Even if Missouri continues not to be a battleground in the presidential contest, the state’s people are still playing a role – on both sides.
A now-defunct Kansas City steel company, GST Steel Corp., is featured in a new two-minute TV spot that President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign is running in several battleground states (but not Missouri) against Republican rival Mitt Romney.
GST was bought by Romney’s Bain Capital in 1993. Within a decade, the firm went bankrupt, putting 750 people out of work, although Bain collected millions of dollars in profits (estimates in news accounts range from $12 million to more than $40 million).
The Obama ad – borrowing from an earlier spot aired this year by then-GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich – notes that Bain sought to reduce the pensions and health-care benefits for retirees.
To refute the ad, Romney’s campaign is assisted by former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., who told reporters in a conference call Tuesday morning that “the ad is totally unfounded and invalid.”
Talent emphasized that Romney had left Bain Capital by the time GST was closed.
The national attention on the ad, which features former GST workers in Kansas City blasting Bain, is intriguing since most Missourians will likely never see the spot.
That's because both national parties expect Missouri voters to favor Romney in November. As a result, neither campaign is expected to spend much money in the state on ads or campaigns.
Romney is slated to be in the St. Louis in a couple weeks, however, for a June 7 fundraiser at the Ritz Carlton in Clayton. Recent stops here by Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, also have been closed-door events to raise cash.
Talent, who lost his Senate seat to Democrat Claire McCaskill in 2006, also is a key messenger for Romney and national Republicans, as they seek to stress the rising national debt during Obama’s tenure as president.
During Tuesday’s conference call, Talent and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus contended that Obama had failed to follow through with his promise to cut the federal debt in half during his first term.
The Obama administration has largely blamed policies put in place by his predecessor, Republican George W. Bush. Talent contended Tuesday that such a reply was “just an attempt to evade the issue.”
Because Missouri isn’t a battleground state, most Missourians won’t hear much of that debate either.