May 21st, 2012
05:29 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama: Romney's Bain record is fair game

(CNN) – President Barack Obama took Mitt Romney to task on Monday, arguing the likely GOP presidential nominee's history as a corporate CEO does anything but qualify him for the Oval Office.

"When you're president, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot," the president said during a press conference at the NATO summit in Chicago.

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Obama's stinging comments marked the boiling point in a weeklong back-and-forth between the two camps over the actions of Romney's former equity firm, Bain Capital.

Team Obama has aggressively zeroed in on Bain, hammering Romney as a greedy businessman and releasing videos that feature laid-off workers at companies bought by his former company. Their attacks echo previous criticism of Romney's corporate experience raised by some of his opponents during the Republican primary.

The negative campaigning escalated to a point in which some called for the attacks to stop. Obama supporter and Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker made headlines Sunday morning when he argued Bain should be off limits, though he quickly changed his tune later that afternoon, saying Romney's private sector experience was fair game, after all.

Asked about Booker's comments on Monday, Obama said Romney's private equity experience should be up for debate, arguing the candidate uses his private sector tenure as his "main calling card" on the campaign trail.

"If your main argument for how to grow the economy is 'I knew how to make a lot of money for investors,' then you're missing what this job is about," Obama said.

Careful not to fuel Republican backlash, Obama said maximizing profits is a "healthy part of the free market," but argued a president's role is different from that of a CEO.

"My job is to take into account everybody, not just some," the president said.

While Romney's team frequently chalks up the Bain attacks to an attempt by the Obama campaign to distract from other issues, the president insisted Monday the Bain question is here to stay.

"This is not a distraction," he said. "This is what this campaign is going to be about, is what is a strategy for us to move this country forward in a way where everybody can succeed."

Romney has repeatedly beat back efforts to sour his record over Bain. Romney has repeatedly beat back efforts to sour his record over Bain. On Monday, he responded to the president's comments, saying in a statement that Obama was continuing "his attacks on the free enterprise system."

"President Obama refuses to accept moral responsibility for his failed policies. My campaign is offering a positive agenda to help America get back to work," he said.

Bain also responded on Monday, releasing a statement decrying the recent ads and touting the firm's successes.

"Despite political attacks that emphasize the few companies that have struggled, the facts are that during Bain Capital's ownership, revenues grew in 80 percent of the more than 350 companies in which we have invested," the statement read.

The Obama campaign, meanwhile, said it's message will remain "Bain, Bain, Bain," an Obama campaign aide told CNN Monday.

Also see:

Political jabs are 'nauseating,' mayor says

Gingrich is millions in the hole

Boehner and Pelosi say they feel good heading into November

Axelrod: Fund-raising pitch cited Wright threat to combat super PACs


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • NATO • President Obama
soundoff (120 Responses)
  1. Roger

    Those that vote Republican is self imposed path supporting the 1%. Surely not our middle class.
    Re-elect Obama and turn the House in 2012.

    May 22, 2012 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  2. Slippery Pete

    "The businessman cares nothing at all for the individual..." Sure he does. Himself. That is not a criticism. This notion that everyone should get the same is why communism was so appealling to so many, but has never succeed anywhere ever.

    May 22, 2012 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  3. Stuffit

    Then so is Jeremiah Wright, and all of the thousands of people who lost their jobs and dealerships in the auto bail out. This hypocratiic, corrupt, inept, incompetent, union toady is laying the way wide open to expose the criminal behavior of his reign of terror on the American economy.

    May 22, 2012 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  4. DJ

    Some people want to follow the story line, that Romney would cause this country to have to work multiple low paying jobs. But in reality since President Obama has been in office the jobs that are being created are low wage, part time jobs. People are already having to take on multiple jobs to just make ends meet. We gave President Obama a chance, it has not helped, time for a change. Remember what happened when the country gave Bush 4 more years to try, look where it got us!! If something is not working you do not give more time hoping for a change. I truly believe Mitt Romney can get this country back its strength!

    May 22, 2012 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  5. ST

    Very much so. Bain is absolutely fair game. After Bain, the next game is Massachusetts.

    May 22, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  6. L. R. Long

    When a man is laid off, it takes a toll on his family and marriage. In some urban areas there are groups that help you to get back on your feet, find work and even find spiritual guidance. What is the name given to the individual that helps a man who just got fired so some CEO, like Romney, can make more money? A community organizer! Romney should be terrified to compare his experience to Obama's and if he's not it's because he's too ignorant, and arrogant, to see he has no chance.

    May 22, 2012 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  7. Time To Think

    Looking at Bain Capital is fair. Looking at Bain Capital from a very narrow, biased position is political rhetoric. I don't blame politicians for skewing the facts; however, I do blame those who blindly believe what the politicians say.

    May 22, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  8. Billy, NYC

    Why CEOs hire people and create jobs? They want to make profits and get rich.
    How to increase the profit margins and make the shareholders/investors happy? Decrease the salary to minimum wage; make workers work long hours; or send jobs oversea like Asia where there are plenty of cheap labors.
    That's the reason we need Government regulations to protect the working class and keep jobs here in USA.
    Everyone deserves a fair shot here in USA. LOUD and CLEAR!

    May 22, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  9. quisp65

    I think Romney want you to attack him on Bain. The more Democrats show themselves as attacking business the more it will help the GOP. The Democrats are in their fishbowl on this one and don't understand all of America.

    May 22, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  10. dreamer96

    The GOP is going all the way back to Obama's birth certificate again in this election ...so Yes the Mitt Romney's dealings with Bain Capital, is fair game for Obama to go after Mitt Romney for.....And you know Mitt Romney's father had 12 wives...and that is why they lived in Mexico...Ops.. I just went all the way back past Mitt Romney's birth....

    May 22, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  11. Peace

    One good phrase is clicking my mind and that is: " FAIR AND BALANCED". I never thought that it was a good one, but now makes me think it is time to use it even tackling Bain Capital issue.

    May 22, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  12. Vince

    If you're running on your "success" as a business man...then your business gets held under the microscope...deal with it.

    May 22, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  13. DaveSEMass

    Robmey / Some Toady 2012 : Because The Upper 1% Don't Have All Of Our Money Yet

    May 22, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  14. Robb

    I love how CNN censors the truth! Whoever the moderator is they need to be fired immediately! There was nothing wrong with my post other than the truth was in it!

    May 22, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  15. Four and The Door

    Dominican mama 4 Obama
    the facts are that during Bain Capital's ownership, revenues grew in 80 percent of the more than 350 companies in which we have invested," the statement read.
    -----------------
    How was that achieved, is the question.
    Outsourcing anyone?
    _________________________________________________________________________________________
    How about well thought out and executed business plans? This still works, even in 2012 America. Imagine that!

    May 22, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  16. neuroperson

    Wow, the Communist News Network is in full force today. I have typed a few posts with middle right/moderate conservative viewpoints that have been eliminated. But then again, they never said their motto is fair and balanced. For all the liberals out there, who is going to pay for all these social programs? Only 50% of people pay any tax at all, and now 50% of people are on some kind of gov. handout. How long do you think that is going to last? Especially with our astronomical deficit?

    May 22, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  17. Bill

    and so is Obama's record which would get most people fired.

    May 22, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  18. Willy100

    Everything should be fair game – even community organizing successes or failures – have at it – afterall, they have over $1Billion dollars to spend on useless advertisements – and only 5 months to do so – SPEND IT ALL – Stimulate the US Economy -

    May 22, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  19. A. Goodwin

    Obama made a very good case for how he plans to use Bain on the campaign. And he's right – being president of an entire country is different than being a CEO for Bain....in his role he is responsible for finding EVERYONE a job. Romney's role was to make sure they made as much money as possible – and if they created jobs, ok. Romney needs to be reminded that our government is not about "making money" – but producing enough tax revenues to cover programs that Americans like – like Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, etc.

    May 22, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  20. anoel2005

    Booker should have stuck to the truth which he stated on Meet the Press. Instead , he got strong armed by the Obama people.

    May 22, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
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