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Mitt Romney: Job Creator or Corporate Raider?

The Massachusetts Miracle -- or Not. Romney proudly touts his success at creating jobs in Massachusetts, but the facts may not help him.

According to MarketWatch, Massachusetts ranked 50th out of the 50 states in job growth during Romney's first year in office, and things improved very little thereafter.

By the end of his term, Massachusetts was still 47th, ranking above only rustbelt states Michigan and Ohio and Hurricane Katrina-wracked Louisiana. While groups were growing nationwide at more than 5%, Massachusetts limped along at a bare 0.9%.

Yes, some jobs may have been created in Massachusetts during Romney's tenure, but not at a level that unemployed American voters are likely to find reassuring.

So, who is the real Mitt Romney? It's clear that Romney will continue to portray himself as a savvy businessman who can put America back to work, and that President Obama will want to characterize him as a heartless corporate pirate who got filthy rich on other people's misery.

The truth undoubtedly lies somewhere in between, but Romney's tendency to publicly stumble over his own wealth won't help him in the polls. The Internet is already full of awkward Romney quotes such as:

  • "Corporations are people, my friend;
  • "I like being able to fire people;" and
  • "I'm not concerned about the very poor."

All of those quotes have been taken out of context and stripped of whatever nuance Romney intended. Taken together, though, they form a fairly compelling -- if not necessarily accurate -- picture of a man with far more money than heart.

And why should investors care? Well, if corporate America likes Romney's promise of a business-friendly White House, there should be plenty of concern about how Romney's job creation record plays on the campaign trail.

Corporations may be able to donate big money to presidential candidates these days, but it's still individual human voters who'll decide whether to vote Romney in or out.

Perhaps, instead of essentially promising to create jobs himself, Romney should focus his message on how making companies profitable and encouraging economic growth will create the need for well-paid workers.

It's an honest message, and one that might just appeal to voters. If Romney gets mired in his arguably ambiguous record, or continues to arm his critics with quotes suggesting that he's just too rich to care about ordinary Americans, President Obama is almost certain to win another four years in the White House.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.
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