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'When Mitt Romney Came to Town' review

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When Mitt Romney Came to Town, a half-hour video financed by Newt Gingrich’s super PAC Winning Our Future, is a pulverizing piece of propaganda designed to portray Romney as a rapacious, conscience-less businessman who’ll do “anything for a profit,” as one of the quotes from Romney himself phrases it. Heavy on accusation and poignant interviews with unemployed people, the anti-Romney film could have been made by an Occupy Wall Street film student, or by Keith Olbermann during all the time he’s had declining to appear on Current TV. But the fact that it comes from an opponent in Romney’s own party, and lays out a line of attack the Democrats can use in the November election, raises it to high curiosity status.

The film is full of ominous voice-over narration. Speaking of Romney’s time as CEO of Bain Capital, a private equity company: “His mission?” the resonant voice asks, and answers “To reap massive rewards for himself and his investors.” But isn’t this precisely the kind of capitalist endeavor all the GOP candidates, including Gingrich, support? No matter. The voice-over provides the full phrase that gives the movie its title: “The suffering began when Mitt Romney came to town.”

The movie, which carries no director credit, profiles the employees of companies that were the victims of takeovers by Bain under Romney, alleging that these businesses were acquired, gutted, and left for dead, while Romney and his colleagues made millions. At one point, the movie even uses a clip from MSNBC host Ed Schultz — precisely the sort of liberal pundit you’d think Gingrich and his super PAC would not want to bring into its web — to make aghast remarks about how the billionaire Romney expanded the size of his house presumably, according to the film, while his Bain company was throwing people out of work.

When Mitt Romney Came to Town baits Romney with the “class warfare” argument that most of the Republican candidates have deplored by including a clip of a person left unemployed post-Bain-takeover saying, “There’s no middle class anymore; only rich and poor.”

Clearly, the filmmakers’ favorite shot is a gleefully absurd one: A picture of Romney sitting in a chair on an airport’s tarmac, receiving a shoeshine from a man in a red uniform. When Mitt Romney shows that image twice, to play up the idea that this is the closest Romney gets to “the working man.”

When Mitt Romney Came to Town has been manna for cable TV news of every political stripe. On Fox News, America Live host Megyn Kelly led a segment that grilled Winning Our Future adviser Rick Tyler and gave time to Romney defender Bay Buchanan. Sean Hannity, on his show, hosted Fox News contributor Sarah Palin, who said the Gingrich-approved criticism of Romney was “fair” because the candidates “need to vet one another. We’re not going to get the lame-stream media to help vetting on the other side of the ticket, so, we’ll vet within our own party. We’ll allow that.” Okeydoke.

More Mitt reaction to come…

Twitter: @kentucker