Amoore walks back Obama attack

Renee Amoore had said Obama's tax hikes led to layoffs at her company. Associated Press
Renee Amoore had said Obama's tax hikes led to layoffs at her company. Associated Press
Posted: July 20, 2012

THE FINANCIAL impact, Renee Amoore explained, was painful.

Speaking Monday in LOVE Park for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, Amoore said she was forced to lay off 200 of her 500 employees.

The blame, Amoore said, fell on President Obama's handling of the economy — specifically, increases in federal taxes on payroll, health care and business.

Something there sounded off-kilter. We'll come back to that.

Amoore, deputy chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party for 16 years, was playing a leading role in Romney's efforts to shift the focus from his business record to Obama's time in the White House. The driving message: Obama hands out political payoffs to pals while the middle-class faces layoffs.

Amoore insisted the layoffs at her company, the Amoore Group in King of Prussia, resulted from new federal taxes — not state or local levies — and preached about the problem as a dozen Romney supporters crowded around her to listen and commiserate.

On Tuesday, the Romney campaign hosted a national conference call for media members with Amoore and business owners from three other states to keep pressing the message. Again, Amoore said her business was suffering, citing layoffs.

But on Wednesday, Amoore admitted her claims about Obama and taxes and layoffs in her company were wrong, that she "made a mistake about numbers."

Amoore explained that her human-resources staff told her the 200 layoffs resulted from programs her company had closed in South Africa, Italy and Greece.

"They're not related to President Obama and the whole economy thing," Amoore said.

Federal payroll taxes for employers have remained at 6.2 percent during Obama's administration, while the matching contribution from employees was reduced to 4.2 percent for 2011 and 2012.

William Freeland, an economist for the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation in Washington, said business taxes from the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, won't begin until 2014. He added that business taxes, whether measured as corporate or personal income, have not increased under Obama.

Some personal taxes could increase in 2013 if Obama succeeds in letting the Bush tax cuts expire for anyone making more than $250,000 per year.

Amoore, whose company oversees three divisions working in health care, communications and education, is no newbie to national politics. So we figured she would have known better than to blame Obama for layoffs her company made in other countries.

In 2000, she conducted the roll call for the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. In 2004, she chaired the state's delegation to the convention in New York City. In 2008, the party gave her a big-time speaking role at the convention in St. Paul, Minn.

How deep is that well?

Tom Smith, the former coal-company owner from western Pennsylvania, was a financial juggernaut in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate earlier this year. Nobody could best the self-funding millionaire, not even Gov. Corbett's party-backed candidate.

Smith is pretty modest about his money, telling us Thursday that he "put some money in at the beginning to get things started."

By "some money," Smith means just shy of $5 million. He gave an additional $1.5 million of his own money after the primary, bringing his investment in the race to $6,475,000.

Smith's campaign has $2.2 million in the bank as of June 30 to challenge U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. in the general election, campaign-finance reports filed Sunday show. Casey has $6.2 million on hand.

Smith tells us he's hoping to raise enough to stay competitive. He's proud 3,500 people have given him money.

"It's going very well," Smith said. "But I will say that if we run a little short, the well is not dry."

We wondered how deep that well might be. Given that Mitt Romney is getting bashed for not releasing more of his tax returns, would Smith make his financial records public?

"You know, I've never been asked that question," Smith said before saying he would consider releasing his tax returns. "I never thought anyone would ask."

Nutter's dual role

For Mayor Nutter, the shift from nonpartisan policy advocate to Democratic mouthpiece can happen fast.

Nutter on Thursday appeared in his new role as president of the nonpartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors, holding a news conference in a ballroom at the Ritz Carlton to call on the federal government to invest in cities.

Then he walked into the hallway and did a political event slamming Mitt Romney for not releasing more tax returns.

Nutter said his political work shouldn't affect the Conference of Mayors' nonpartisan efforts.

"We want to hear from both candidates, hear from both camps," he said. "We want to make sure whoever is elected in November and sworn in January has the interest of cities at heart."

— Staff Writer Catherine Lucey contributed to this report. Contact Chris Brennan at 215-854-5973 or email him at brennac@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisBrennanDN and read his blog, PhillyClout.com.

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