The Obama campaign attacked Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in his own backyard on Thursday, charging that he failed to live up to promises he made to Massachusetts voters during his term as governor there. But the message was literally drowned out by Romney campaign staffers, interns and volunteers who showed up at the Boston rally—headlined by top Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod—and booed, chanted and shouted throughout the press conference.
Nevertheless, Axelrod built on a narrative the incumbent Democrat has been making for weeks—that Romney's successful experience in the private sector is not well-suited for success in government.
"He played a shell game in order to say that he was making progress and he left a mess on the doorstep of the next governor," Axelrod said during the event, which was broadcast live by CNN.
"He tried to bring those same principles to Massachusetts and the middle class suffered, this state lagged far behind the rest of the country in job creation, incomes declined. That's what happens when you try and transfer those values and those principles into the governance of a state or a country," he said.
The Obama campaign also released a four-minute campaign web video featuring Democratic politicians from Massachusetts who criticized Romney for promising to lower taxes but instead raising fees on things like marriage licenses. Both the ad and Obama aides point out that U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show when Romney left office the Bay State was 47th out of the 50 states in job creation.
Romney's camp responded to the event by holding a rival rally before Axelrod began speaking.
In a statement, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said, "Only President Obama, who has failed to meet his own goal of 6 percent unemployment, would have the audacity to attack Mitt Romney's record of creating jobs. We're happy to compare the 4.7 percent unemployment rate Mitt Romney achieved in Massachusetts to President Obama's weak record any day."
Marc Landy, political science professor at Boston College, says the Obama ad was "crude and ineffective."
"As we see with both Obama and Romney, when you are chief executive in a state or country during hard times, your numbers don't look that good," he says. Romney served as governor from 2003 to 2007.
Landy says a more legitimate criticism of Romney's time in office would be his sudden shift on social issues.
"He decided very soon after getting elected that he was going to run for president which meant that on numerous symbolic issues he moved away from where Massachusetts [residents] are at and it was anger provoking," Landy says. "But as a governor, in terms of running of state affairs he was above average."
Romney, campaigning in California on Thursday, also sought to sully his opponent by hosting a press conference at Solyndra, the solar panel manufacturer that received $527 million in federally-backed loans through the president's stimulus package before going bankrupt and laying off 1,100 workers. Romney and the GOP have highlighted the firm as an example of Obama wasting taxpayer money and attempting to pick 'winners and losers' in the economy.
Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter.