CNN Highlights 'Bad Memories, Bitterness Over Romney Past' In South Carolina

A report by CNN's David Mattingly that aired on Friday's The Situation Room emphasized the "bitter Bain memories" left in South Carolina from Bain Capital, the private equity firm that candidate Mitt Romney founded.

Mattingly featured the president of the local Steelworkers union at the plant Bain Capital bought back in the 1990s. As the United Steelworkers union has been heavily pro-Democratic, it came as no surprise that the president ripped Bain's practices and held Romney "very responsible."

Even though officials in the county where Bain brought a company and abruptly left five years later admitted that they came out "okay" in the long run, Mattingly's report emphasized the "bitterness" and "bad memories" of Bain Capital's history in the state. It even noted how it was affecting his campaign, leaving a "shadow" over it.

The headline for the report blared "Bad Memories, Bitterness Over Romney Past: Bain casting a shadow over his S.C. campaign."

[Video below. Click here for audio.]

A transcript of the segment, which aired on January 13 at 4:30 p.m. EST, is as follows:

WOLF BLITZER: Attacks on Mitt Romney over his venture capitalist past are resonating with some South Carolina voters. For them, the name Bain Capital brings back bad memories and bitterness. CNN's David Mattingly has more.

[HEADLINE: "Bad Memories, Bitterness Over Romney Past: Bain casting a shadow over his S.C. campaign"]

(Video Clip)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN correspondent: (Voice-over) In the mid-90s, when Mitt Romney's Bain Capital was investing in steel, Bain bought this plant in Georgetown, South Carolina.

JAMES SANDERSON, president, USW local 7898: Steelworkers.

MATTINGLY: Steelworkers local president James Sanderson says things did not go well.

(On-camera) While Bain was owning the place, did you see any re-investing in the plant at all?

SANDERSON: No. None at all. None at all. They were not investing anything at all in our plant.

MATTINGLY: Was the equipment wearing down?

SANDERSON: Yes it was. Very much so.

MATTINGLY: (Voice-over) Bain's spokesman tells CNN that claims of no investment in the plant are not true. Sanderson's view is from the downside of Romney's private sector record on job creation.

(On-camera) Were you more or less competitive?

SANDERSON: We were less competitive with Bain.


SANDERSON: Less. Because they did not have us in a position to where we could compete because all our equipment was being neglected. We could not do the stuff that we needed to be done and had been doing.

(Voice-over) Touring a motorcycle dealer in South Carolina, Romney points to Bain's national successes, including Sports Authority and Staples, eventually employing thousands in the state. He also acknowledges the failures.

MITT ROMNEY, Republican presidential candidate: And there are some businesses that have to be cut back in order to survive and to try and make them stronger. And sometimes you're successful at that, and sometimes you're not.

MATTINGLY: In Georgetown, the United Steelworkers union says 50 were laid off. And Bain sold the plant in bankruptcy after just four years. And it wasn't the first time Bain exited the state quickly. The firm inked a deal in 1987 to bring a photo album manufacturer to Cherokee County, South Carolina.

(On-camera) At the time it was a very big deal for this county when Bain decided to expand to bring a company here. This entire area had not been developed, and the county was eager to get this industrial park up and running.

(Voice-over) But the company closed just five years later. County officials estimate up to 150 people lost their jobs.

(On-camera) What do you say to the people who did lose their jobs in those situations, and might view venture capitalism as a job-killer instead of a job-creator?

ROMNEY: I think any time a job is lost, it's a tragedy. For the family, for the individual that loses a job it's just devastating. And every time that we invested in the business, it was to try and encourage that business to have ongoing life.

MATTINGLY: (Voice-over) The departure of Bain's company in Cherokee County was a surprise, after the county provided $3.2 million in bonds, and a $50,000 sewer line as incentive to build. But 20 years later, county officials look back at the deal as a win-win.

(On-camera) Even though you lost 150 jobs when this company left, you still consider it something that helped the county?

JIM COOK, Cherokee County development board: In the long run, we came out okay.

MATTINGLY: (Voice-over) The building Bain built is now home of pen manufacturer Bic, employing 80 people. After changing hands a couple of times at a year-long shut-down, the steel plant in Georgetown is back up and running with 225 hourly workers. And some bitter Bain memories that have not mellowed with time.

(On-camera) How much do you hold Mitt Romney responsible for this?

SANDERSON: Very responsible because he was the leader.

MATTINGLY: (Voice-over) Decisions and consequences the apparent leader among Republican hopefuls will be explaining in this critical primary state. David Mattingly, CNN, Greer, South Carolina.

- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center