What Romney said about NLRB was technically wrong, but his message was accurate

Late last week the Obama re-election campaign brought to my attention a PolitiFact piece that said something Mitt Romney said about Obama’s NLRB was untrue.

And it was, technically. But what he was trying to say was essentially true.

Politifact described the Romney ad this way:

In the ad, Romney stands in front of workers on a factory floor and says that “the National Labor Relations Board, now stacked with union stooges selected by the president, says to a free enterprise like Boeing, ‘you can’t build a factory in South Carolina because South Carolina is a right-to-work state.’”

Here is Politifact’s ruling (and go ahead and read the entire explication that precedes it):

The Romney ad claimed that the NLRB told Boeing that it “can’t build a factory in South Carolina because South Carolina is a right-to-work state.”

The NLRB’s complaint started a legal process that could ultimately have resulted in a factory closure, but the NLRB as a whole didn’t tell Boeing anything. What’s more, the legal basis for the action centered on whether Boeing was punishing the union for staging strikes, not that Boeing had opened a factory in a right-to-work state. We rate the statement False.

Bottom line, Boeing had said it wanted to get away from all those strikes, and that’s that got it into trouble. Well, one good way to get away from strikes is to go to a “right-to-work” state, where you are less likely to be dealing with a union.

So… as an editor, if someone had written for publication the words spoken in the Romney ad, I wouldn’t have allowed it. I’d have reworded it. But I would have understood what he was saying.

3 thoughts on “What Romney said about NLRB was technically wrong, but his message was accurate

  1. Mark Stewart

    I wouldn’t have thought that Obama’s reelection campaign would even want to bring this issue up. Regardless of how Romney states it; this issue was one of the biggest potential loser issues ever to come up in politics and executive leadership. They ought to be happy that everyone found a way to sweep away the whole stinky issue before it had had a chance to detonate in Obama’s face.

    If the NLRB had somehow gotten a ruling that Boeing had to close it’s Charleston plant and return all the jobs to Washington State, Obama could have lost the upcoming election to Rick Perry – or even Michelle Bachmann. I’d still not be too sure about Ron Paul, but maybe he, too…

  2. Brad

    Yeah, this would seem a no-win for Obama. This is the one thing that his administration has done that actually plays into the GOP’s narrative about him being a hater of free enterprise — and of South Carolina, for that matter.

    Imagine if that complaint had been successful. A major national corporation forced to shut down a huge plant in a state that has place ENORMOUS value on that plant, in order to please a union. If anything like that has ever happened in the country (and perhaps it has; I’m no expert on labor history), I’m unaware of it.

    It would have been the outrage of outrages.

    So yeah, if I’m the Obama campaign, I avoid mentioning this. If forced to say anything, I’d say “Hey, we backed off and didn’t pursue it.” And drop it right there. And hope nobody notices that it was dropped not because it was a terrible idea, but because the union didn’t need the NLRB to wield that nuclear truncheon in its behalf any more.

  3. Mark Stewart

    The only reason Obama’s team isn’t sweating it is they are probably pretty sure that none of the GOP field could convincingly articulate the possibilities of this as a free-market, and national, disaster given the level of the rhetoric being tossed around in the GOP primary field. What might have been doesn’t connect with too many voters.

    I am sure that the NLRB action will come up in the general election; so odd that Obama’s campaign hasn’t figured out how to more deftly step around this mine. They may want to do a house cleaning of the board now while neither the unions nor the public are watching.

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