Reporting from the New Hampshire primary, Fox News's Carl Cameron observed that Bain Capital was "the venture capital company in which [Romney] both bought and grew companies and occasionally shut a few down."
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But Bain Capital is not, as Cameron said, a venture capital firm. He wasn't the only reporter to mislabel Bain, either. When Newt Gingrich first ramped up attacks on Romney as a "corporate raider" at Bain, the news media covered the attacks by referring to the company alternately as a venture capital firm and a private equity firm. After a few days, private equity began to be used more often. However, looking over transcripts from Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC, TPM found that all three often continue to use the term "venture capital" to refer to Bain and Romney's private sector experience.
For better or worse, a key feature of this campaign will be Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital. As a result, the understanding the difference between private equity and venture capital will help voters understand the man they may vote for in the primary, and possibly the general election. Because venture capital tends to be regarded as a job-creation industry, confusing the two terms will likely work to Romney's advantage.