Gov. Mitt Romney is traveling to Iowa on Friday to deliver a major economic speech and tout his 25 years of business experience, but if Team Obama succeeds in its strategy, Iowans at home may see a different Mitt Romney on their TV sets -- the image of a shadowy Bain Capital CEO who was responsible for shutting down manufacturing plants and laying off workers in an endless drive for more profits.
msnbc host Alex Wagner and her show panel discussed the Republican nominee's carefully crafted businessman image and whether it still attracts voters or has been turned into a net negative by Team Obama's attempts to paint him as a corporate raider.
Priorities USA, the super PAC supporting President Obama, unveiled a new TV ad this week in seven states featuring laid-off workers from Bain-owned companies speaking straight to camera about how Bain Capital's insatiable greed led to them losing their jobs.
"It was very effective over the summer, they hurt Romney," panelist and The New York Times writer John Harwood said of the strategy, noting that with Romney's recent surge in the polls, "the Obama campaign thinks they need to go back and push that message which has been effective for them."
In Freeport, Ill., weeks of protests outside the Bain Capital-owned Sensata Technologies plant -- which is shutting down operations and moving 175 jobs overseas to China -- have started to gain national attention, causing another headache for the governor.
"The issue here is not policy for Romney, it's whether people identify with him and whether they feel he identifies with them," Time magazine's Michael Scherer said, adding that in Ohio, the Obama campaign's strategy has been to portray Romney as a "rich Uncle Pennybags" or "the guy who owns the nuclear power plant in Simpsons land."
The Romney campaign's strategy has been the opposite, said Politico's Glenn Thrush. "What they are simply trying to do is soften him up, they're taking the edge off in terms of rich and poor and the 47% argument which is the big tough one for them."