President Obama’s campaign shifts attack on Mitt Romney to story of American Pad & Paper

After attacking Mitt Romney and Bain Capital last week for their dealings with a Missouri steel company, the Obama campaign today is turning to the tale of a closed Indiana office supply company that then-Senator Edward M. Kennedy used to repel Romney in their 1994 race.

The saga of SCM Office Supplies Inc. in Marion, Ind., was used by Kennedy in television ads and campaign trail appearances by SCM workers to undercut Romney as he mounted the most serious reelection challenge of Kennedy’s career.

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Bain-owned American Pad & Paper bought SCM in 1994, only to cut wages and benefits before closing the Marion plant a year later. Over 200 workers lost their job.

By 2000, Ampad itself was declaring bankruptcy, while the Romney-led Bain and its investors had reaped over $100 million in profits.

“To me, Mitt Romney takes from the poor and the middle-class and gives to the rich,” one former SCM employee says in the five-minute web video being released today by the Obama campaign. “He’s just the opposite of Robin Hood.”

The Ampad/SCM story was not only used against Romney during his 1994 race against Kennedy, but earlier this year in the Republican primary campaign.

It was encapsulated in this Globe graphic.

A Romney aide said the new ad, like the one last week about Bain’s dealings with GST Steel in Kansas City, Mo., is an attempt to divert attention from slowness in the nation’s economic recovery.

“President Obama continues his assault on the free enterprise system with attacks that one of his supporters, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, called ‘nauseating’ and a former adviser, Steven Rattner, called ‘unfair,’” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “Under President Obama, too many Americans have lost their jobs and their homes. President Obama’s policies have failed every American who expected their President to focus on the economy and make things better.

Saul pointed voters to an ad Romney released last week that outlined his planned actions his first day as president.

This afternoon, Bain itself released its own statement.

“Throughout Bain Capital’s 28-year history, we have been focused on growing businesses and improving their operations. We acquired Ampad from Mead Corp. in 1992, and grew the overall business during the four years we controlled the company. The Marion plant was a challenging situation in a business that was performing well overall, growing revenues and adding jobs,” the statement said.

It added: “Despite political attacks that emphasize the few companies that have struggled, the facts are that during Bain Capital’s ownership, revenues grew in 80 percent of the more than 350 companies in which we have invested.”