A labor union that supports President Barack Obama's re-election campaign has released an attack ad that features a sanitation worker collecting trash outside Mitt Romney's multimillion-dollar California mansion.
"My name is Richard Hayes, and I pick up Mitt Romney's trash," the man says to the camera in the 60-second Web ad. "We're kind of like the invisible people, you know. He doesn't realize, you know, that the service we provide, you know, if it wasn't for us, you know, it would be a big health issue, us not picking up trash."
"Picking up 15, 16 tons by hand, you know that takes a toll on your body," Hayes continued. "When I'm 55, 60 years old, I know my body's going to be break down. Mitt Romney doesn't care about that."
The head of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which produced the spot, says it's a direct response to the Republican presidential nominee's controversial "47 percent" comments that have dogged him of late.
"Mitt Romney's '47 percent' videotape revealed his contempt for tens of millions of Americans," AFSCME President Lee Saunders wrote in a blog post. "Romney seems only to be relaxed and at ease when he is surrounded by other millionaires and people willing to pay $50,000 to share a meal with him. And it is only those wealthy donors who get to know what is really on his mind. They spend more money than most Americans make in a year to ask Mitt Romney questions and listen to his reckless banter about Americans like Richard Hayes."
Hayes' route includes Romney's $12 million La Jolla, Calif., mansion—"the house where he's putting in an elevator for his cars," wrote Saunders.
"No one forced Romney to trash these Americans," he continued. "He was simply stating, to a privileged audience behind closed doors, what he really believes. He never expected that his remarks would be heard by the wider public."
The Romney camp said it was unimpressed with the ad. "It's not surprising that a liberal special interest group is trying to distract from President Obama's failed agenda with dishonest political attacks," Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement to Yahoo News. "President Obama has consistently sided with union bosses over middle class workers by supporting big government policies that have killed jobs, pushing for disastrous card check legislation that would take away the right to a secret ballot in the workplace, and stacking the National Labor Relations Board with their political cronies."
During his gubernatorial campaign, Romney spent a day working as a garbage man in Massachusetts, as he recalled in his 2010 book, "No Apology":
I decided to spend a day every few weeks doing the jobs of other people in Massachusetts. Among other jobs, I cooked sausages at Fenway Park, worked on asphalt paving crew, stacked bales of hay on a farm, volunteered in an emergency room, served food at a nursing home, and worked as a child-care assistant. I'm often asked which was the hardest job—it's child care, by a mile.
One day I gathered trash as a garbage collector. I stood on that little platform at the back of the truck, holding on as the driver navigated his way through the narrow streets of Boston. As we pulled up to traffic lights, I noticed that the shoppers and businesspeople who were standing only a few feet from me didn't even see me. It was as if I was invisible.
The new ad is the first of three attacking Romney produced by the union. But Saunders recently insisted the AFSCME was nonpartisan.
"Let me be perfectly clear about this: Our union does not work for any political party; we work for justice and fairness in the workplace," he said at the AFSCME's annual meeting in June. "If someone takes us on, it does not matter whether they are a Democrat or a Republican, conservative or liberal. We must hold politicians of all political stripes accountable for what they say and what they do. Because when it comes to what affects our members and our rights, it's not about left versus right; it's about right versus wrong."
Still, Saunders told attendees, "We must work our hearts out to re-elect President Obama."