Supporters of GOP candidate Newt Gingrich have used clips from an anti-Romney documentary called King of Bain: When Mitt Romney Came to Town in a new attack ad against his Republican rival, a move that has drawn criticism from the GOP establishment and caused others to take a closer look at Romney's involvement in Bain Capital.
One of the biggest reasons for Romney's success at the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary is the idea that his business experience will help to steer America out of its current economic woes. In the 30-minute documentary King of Bain, however, the Republican candidate is accused of contributing to the biggest American job loss since World War II.
Both the full-length When Mitt Romney Came to Town documentary and the Gingrich attack ad have caused a furor in Washington, with Ron Paul and other Republicans slamming candidates for attacking Romney's business practices and other rivals driving on the anti-Bain momentum.
But where did this documentary come from? What does Romney have to say about it? And why is a former Romney supporter, Jason Killian Meath, one of the men behind it?
Here are five things to know about King of Bain: When Mitt Romney Came to Town, from the companies profiled in the documentary to how a Gingrich political action committee got hold of it.
1. Who made King of Bain: When Mitt Romney Came to Town?
The original 30-minute documentary comes from Meath, who created ads for Romney's 2008 presidential campaign. He is a former associate of Stuart Stevens and Russ Schrieifer, top Romney strategists.
Meath made the film over the past year by profiling four companies taken over by the venture-capital firm Bain Capital: Massachusetts-based KayBee Toys, a Florida laundry-equipment facility called UniMac, an Indiana office-supply company called AmPad and an electronics company called DDI.
It's not clear what caused the split between Meath and the GOP frontrunner. Meath did not return calls requesting information about his decision to make the anti-Romney film.
2. How did the Gingrich Super-PAC get its hands on the documentary?
According to the Christian Science Monitor, Meath reached out to a Newt Gingrich-allied PAC called Winning Our Future last week, offering to sell the film for an undisclosed sum.
Winning Our Future's Gregg Phillips confirms that Meath sold the PAC the film, which is already available at kingofbain.com and on YouTube (watch below).
Phillips called the film evidence of the Romney treatment, and slammed his work at Bain Capital as a form of corporate raiding that disgraces and distorts capitalist ideals.
This is not free-market capitalism, said Phillips, owns a small software firm. Romney destroys businesses by sucking the cash out of the system.
3. What does the film say about Mitt Romney?
Mitt Romney. Was he a job creator or a corporate raider? the documentary's Web site asks.
That's the question this film answers. And it's not pretty.
Meath's documentary argues that the four companies profiled were stripped and sold by Bain Capital under Romney's orders. The results left companies destroyed and thousands out of work, while Romney and his associates made off with millions in profit.
Footage of those affected by Bain Capital takeovers show one woman claiming that is the man that destroyed us.
He's for small businesses? another woman asks. No, he isn't.
The documentary features of interviews with former employees from all four companies, who accuse Romney of everything from ruining the quality of their products through an emphasis on mass production to gutting factories of their employees in the quest for profit.
The documentary also takes liberal advantage of quote-cutting, pairing already controversial statements from the candidate with voiceovers by employees or the documentary's narrator.
In one section, the narrator accuses Romney of slashing jobs in almost every state, then cuts to footage of him discussing economic sacrifice.
Creative destruction does enhance productivity, Romney says. For an economy to thrive, as ours does, there are a lot of people who will suffer because of that.
4. What does Romney say about 'King of Bain'?
Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign, released a statement Sunday accusing Gingrich and his supporters of attacking free enterprise.
This is the type of criticism we've come to expect from President Obama and his left-wing allies, Saul said, before going on to slam both Obama and Gingrich for their limited understanding of venture capitalism.
Unlike President Obama and Speaker Gingrich, Mitt Romney spent his career in business, and know what it will take to turn around our nation's bad economy.
Republican strategist David Johnson, who worked on Sen. Bob Dole's 1988 presidential campaign, says the anti-Romney ad could end up hurting the GOP without giving any help to Gingrich in South Carolina. His voice joins other Republicans who feel going after Romney directly will only end up hurting the party's chances if he secures the nomination.
All this does is hand fodder to the Democrats for attacking Romney in the general election, Johnson said. And it reinforces the image of Gingrich as mean and too personal in his attacks on fellow Republicans.
5. What was Newt Gingrich's response to the backlash?
Although the film was released by his supporters, Gingrich's hand is assumed to be behind the recent attack ad clips lifted from King of Bain. It certainly lines up with his previous criticisms of Romney's role as CEO of Bain Capital, and the When Mitt Romney Came to Town clips are already being aired in South Carolina.
In an interview with Greta Van Susteren on Fox News Wednesday night, Gingrich distanced himself from the documentary but refused to back down in his condemnation of Romney's actions.
I'm not attacking Bain Capital, he asserted. I'm questioning Mitt Romney's judgment, I'm questioning Mitt Romney's decisions.
He's the person who has gone around now saying that his business career is one of his two credentials, Gingrich continued. I've raised the question, which I think is a totally legitimate question: what about some companies that Bain took over that went bankrupt?
So far, attacks by Gingrich and fellow candidate Rick Perry on Romney and Bain have been largely ineffective. But as the Republican nomination process continues to favor the former Massachusetts governor, the Democratic National Committee and Obama's re-election team are certain to start looking at Bain's past very closely.
Below, watch the three-minute preview from Newt Gingrich's PAC Winning Out Future as well as the full half-hour documentary King of Bain: When Mitt Romney Came to Town.
King of Bain (Newt Gingrich Attack Ad)
When Mitt Romney Came to Town (Political Documentary, Full Version)