After months of trying to distance himself from Mitt Romney, US Senate candidate Stephen Pagliuca said today that the former governor got a raw deal in the now-famous TV ads that his own media consultant, Tad Devine, used to destroy Romney's hopes of unseating Edward M. Kennedy in 1994.
Pagliuca, the wealthy venture capitalist running for Kennedy's seat, told the Associated Press that Kennedy had aired ''inaccurate'' ads in his epoch battle to fend off Romney's challenge. The ads, which Devine helped create while working for Kennedy 15 years ago, asserted that Romney had profited from downsizing at Ampad, a company in which his venture capital firm had invested.
Pagliuca's comments have put Devine, a national Democratic media consultant, in the awkward position of defending Pagliuca's business record using the same argument Romney made back then: that it is unfair to single out companies that failed without noting the many successes that led to jobs being created.
''I am not making any mea culpa,'' Devine said. ''I am not going to apologize for that. But I don't have a problem with someone objecting that his career is being analyzed by one episode.''
In the 1994 race, which was Kennedy's toughest re-election battle, Pagliuca had sided with Romney, who had hired him at Bain Capital and was his mentor and good friend. The affiliation with Romney remains, for some, a sore point now that Pagliuca is portraying himself as a liberal Democrat. Pagliuca said that he acted out of loyalty to his friend, despite their political differences.
When Kennedy was suddenly falling behind Romney in the early polls, Devine flew to Marion, Ind., to film factory workers at the Bain Capital-owned Ampad firm. The workers had been either laid-off, or their salaries and health and pension benefits were slashed. Romney, along with others at Bain who had taken over the company, had profited off the restructuring.
Devine's ad quickly created the pivotal moment in the hard-fought race, allowing Kennedy to eventually cruise to a comfortable victory.
Pagliuca told the AP that Kennedy was wrong to focus on Ampad and ignore the total number of jobs that Romney created through other deals. He has vowed that he will fight back at any similar attempt to distort his business career.
Will Keyser, Pagliuca's director of communications, said the candidate had no problem hiring Devine despite his work on Kennedy's 1994 ads.
''Tad Devine is one of the best political consultants in the country with significant experience in Massachusetts, and we’re lucky to have him on our side,'' Keyser said. ''The point that Steve was trying make about the 1994 ads was that if you single out one failure to paint an entire career you leave people with an inaccurate picture.''
On the beat
Columnist Shirley Leung says Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh should focus on middle-class housing. Read more