May 31st, 2012
10:30 PM ET
2 years ago

Bill Clinton, predicting Obama win, calls Romney's business career 'sterling'

(CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton, a stalwart backer of President Barack Obama who's already helped the incumbent Democrat raise funds for his re-election bid, said Thursday that Mitt Romney had a "sterling business career" as chief executive of Bain Capital.

That record, while qualifying him to be president, won't necessarily help him win, Clinton said in an interview on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight.'

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"I don't think that we ought to get into the position where we say 'This is bad work. This is good work,'" Clinton said of the private equity industry. Democrats have been hammering Romney for his role at Bain Capital for weeks, painting the GOP presidential candidate as a corporate raider. In justifying their attacks, Democrats point out Romney uses his Bain record as evidence of creating jobs.

On Thursday, Clinton said Romney's record at Bain was less important than his ideas for the country.

"I think the real issue ought to be, what has Governor Romney advocated in the campaign that he will do as president?" Clinton said. "What has President Obama done and what does he propose to do? How do these things stack up against each other?"

Clinton said there was no question Romney was capable of performing the "essential functions of the office."

"The man who has been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold," Clinton said.

Unlike some fellow Democrats, Clinton acknowledged Romney's time at Bain Capital formed a "good business career." He also acknowledged that the nature of private equity meant some companies inevitably fail.

"There is a lot of controversy about that," Clinton told guest host Harvey Weinstein, who has raised millions of dollars for Obama's campaign. "But if you go in and you try to save a failing company, and you and I have friends here who invest in companies, you can invest in a company, run up the debt, loot it, sell all the assets, and force all the people to lose their retirement and fire them."

The former president continued, "Or you can go into a company, have cutbacks, try to make it more productive with the purpose of saving it. And when you try, like anything else you try, you don't always succeed."

While Clinton is not the first Democrat to defend Bain amid political attacks, he is the highest profile. In May Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker said he didn't want to "indict private equity," saying attacks on Romney's tenure didn't take into account the successes the company had. And on Thursday, current Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick called Bain "a perfectly fine company."

Clinton said November's general election, while close, would ultimately tilt for the Democratic incumbent.

"I still think the president will win by five or six points. I've always thought so," Clinton said, noting current economic conditions were driving down support for Obama in current polls.

"Still people feel uncertain," he said. "You know, when you've got a lot of people getting up in the morning, looking in the mirror, starting the day thinking 'They have failed,' that's a problem. And I think those of us who support the president have to get out there and explain what he did in rescuing the automobile industry, what he did in raising the mileage standards and the way they created 150,000 jobs."

If Obama's supporters can get that message out, Clinton said, "I think he will be just fine. And I think he will be re-elected."

Also see:

Obama campaign launches assault on Romney's Massachusetts record

Obama campaign releases third set of Spanish ads

Gonzales says Romney must make personal connection to Hispanics

Wisconsin guv up in third straight poll


Filed under: 2012 • Bill Clinton • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (111 Responses)
  1. Gimmeabreak!

    Romney took investor money and created success after success. Obama took OUR tax dollars and created failure after failure. Gee, I wonder who I'm gonna vote for!

    Romney all the way!!

    June 1, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  2. Sniffit

    "This man-child is going to lose so big in November the libs will be falling on swords for the next 4 years. "

    You went with "man-child" instead of BOY, but we know what you meant.

    June 1, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  3. Hindsight 20/20

    Just look at Romney's record as governor. 47th out of 50 states in job creation! He didn't even try for a 2nd term because his performance was less than sterling. Private business experience doesn't always equate to job creation in government, does it? Why do you think he doesn't mention his time as governor that much? He couldn't create jobs for a state. What makes people think he can do it for a country???

    June 1, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. Oliver

    I think Obama nailed it on the head when he said that a good president has to consider everybody, not just investors. I think its quite amazing actually, that Obama does take even the people who so viciously hate him into account and is trying to improve their lives despite themselves. I think Romney only ultimately cares about Romney. The guy wants to be president, but I'm not even entirely sure why. Sure, I am a liberal, but Romney has never reached out to people like me, nor will he ever. He is only interested in broad scope improvements to the economy. Well and good, but even when our economy was "thriving" under Clinton, the middle class didn't feel it. It has to be about more then just profits for the few. And the social matters do matter as well. How is Romney going to help people get a fair shake, be they homosexual, female, black, latino, poor, etc, when helping them does nothing for the 1%? Say what you will about Obama, its been a rough 3 years for all of us, but at the very least I can say our current president cares about us, all of us, a lot. Obama is a man who came from nothing and rose all the way to become president. He understands the American dream and wants everyone to have the same chance he did.

    June 1, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  5. Sniffit

    "My thoughts are if the people of this country cast off the rhetoric by Obama that this is the "new normal," that nobody else could do better than him, and vote the economy, than Romney wins. But, if the people can't bring themselves to swallow the "emotional investment" they made in 2008, and stick to just liking him, than Obama is back."

    Just can't fathom how well-educated, pragmatic, reasonable, rational people could actually disagree with your ideology, huh? Need to invent something to explain it away? Try World Net Daily...they're having a fire sale on tinfoil hatted conspiracy nonsense this weekend.

    June 1, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  6. Sandy

    Obama keep with the Bain attacks! Those, including Clinton, who don't want Bain to be exposed are in the pockets of these people who are practicing this immoral business practices that hurt regular workers. Private equity or leveraged buyouts are bad business and should be stopped! The politicians, Democrat and Republicans that get donations from these businesses don't like that Obama is finally exposing these business practices. Follow the money and you will see that Clinton, Deval Patrick and Corey Booker gets donations for favors from these people!

    June 1, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  7. RealityBites

    Successful Business Man
    Failed Community Leader

    The choice is clear.

    June 1, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  8. Wake up people

    Success if you were one of the millionaires, not so much success for the little people that lost their jobs and pensions.

    OBAMA 2012!
    Where was all of this outrage when shrub was invading countries looking for faux WMD's?

    June 1, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  9. ThinkTwice

    Just look at Romney's record as governor. 47th out of 50 states in job creation! He didn't even try for a 2nd term because his performance was less than sterling. Private business experience doesn't always equate to job creation in government, does it? Why do you think he doesn't mention his time as governor that much? He couldn't create jobs for a state. What makes people think he can do it for a country???

    June 1, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  10. Brendan

    Stalwart supporter? If I recall he was urging his wife to run in 2012 not too long ago...Whatever, CNN.

    June 1, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  11. lindylou123

    Romney took investor money and put hundreds of people out of work. He only earns money by robbing it from workers. He wants another war and has no idea how to be president. Guess I know who I will be voting for –
    Pres. Obama all the way. He has saved the nation from the damage done by Republicans like Romney who only care about the wealthy few , who do not care about education, the environment or working people.
    I am surprised that Bill Clinton thinks Romney had had a sterling career – I call it something very different.

    June 1, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  12. Gimmeabreak!

    1) Romney took investor money and created success after success (a few failures along the way come with the territory). 2) Obama took OUR tax dollars and created failure after failure (a few successes along the way come with the territory). As for me, I'll take #1 any day.

    Romney all the way!!

    June 1, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  13. WKT

    Clinton knows that Obama is going to lose big time in November. He wants Hillary for 2016. He is not stupid.

    June 1, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. A little sad

    I work for a pension fund, so to me, "private equity" is not a bad word, it's an asset allocation.

    That being said, if Romney wants to tout his experience at Bain as being proof that he knows how to create jobs, why couldn't he translate that into a better job creation record as governor of Massachusetts? 47th in the country is a terrible record.

    Romeny has already proved that he could not translate his business experience into job-creating policies.

    June 1, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  15. A little sad

    BTW john196782000 – your business failed because of YOUR policiies, not anyone elses. I guess you're not from the party of personal responsibility.

    I, like your wife, was laid off in this recession. Before my severance pay ran out, I had opened my own (one person) consulting firm and never needed a day of unemployment. I've since been hired full time by one of my clients. What's wrong with your wife that she couldn't find anything in all that time?

    I suspect that your whole post was a complete fabrication, but if not, you really need to take responisbility for your own problems.

    June 1, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  16. Bryan

    It's obvious that Clinton wants Obama to lose so Hillary can run against Romney in 2016. People will not vote in another Dem if Obama gets re-elected in 2012. Even he knows that eight years of Dems would be more than enough for the folks who would be suffering if Obama got four more years to turn us into Greece. He knows thet headline will be that he praised Romney, but he can defend his words by saying in the same interview that he believes Obama will win this November. He's triangulating as well as he ever did...

    June 1, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  17. Bryan

    It's obvious that Clinton wants Obama to lose so Hillary can run against Romney in 2016. People will not vote in another Dem if Obama gets re-elected in 2012. Even he knows that eight years of Dems would be more than enough for the folks who would be suffering if Obama got four more years to turn us into Greece. He knows thet headline will be that he praised Romney, but he can defend his words by saying in the same interview that he believes Obama will win this November. He's triangulating as well as he ever did...

    June 1, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  18. Sniffit

    "Romney took investor money and created success after success."

    Mittens also took federal money for those businesses. Dynamic Steel and the Olympics both received MILLIONS in federal money, subsidies, tax breaks, etc. So did alot of the other businesses Mitttens likes to cite for his claim of "private" success. Moreover, after Mittens was done raiding businesses like Ampad and GTS Steel and sent them into bankruptcy while siphoning off millions of dollars in "management consulting fees," their pensions were nearly destroyed, forcing the federal government's pension guarantee agency to spend millions and millions of dollars trying to fill in the gaps. Don't ever call what Mittens did "private." ALL OF IT, was made entirely possible by the federal government, our tax money and the federal government picking up the broken pieces (and lives) left behind.

    June 1, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  19. Anne-Florida

    It seems that people keep beating a dead horse. Jobs left the US at least 20 years ago when business owners found out they could pay for less labor in other countries. Add to that the breakdown of the economy in 2007-2008 and we now have a populace that wants jobs. The 2010 election was about jobs. The Bush tax cuts was about jobs. Where are the jobs? Obama has been trying to get Congress to pass jobs bills, they won't pass anything that will help him or the country. Look at the bills they have passed. It is public record. Do any of you really believe that Romney can create jobs? He is and has been all his life looking out for himself and his businesses. Obama has been trying to work for all the people, why has that been overlooked and the history of all that has happened in this country not been understood.

    June 1, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  20. SlackMeyer

    It's funny how you people are SO upset about a company using PRIVATE funds, makes a bad investment and loses money and jobs. BUT. If the GOVERNMENT takes YOUR money (that's taxes for all you bleary-eyed people out there), makes a bad investment (Solyndra and others) and loses money and jobs, well, "Hey! No problem there!"

    June 1, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  21. Sniffit

    "why has that been overlooked and the history of all that has happened in this country not been understood."

    Because journalism died and advertising revenue is the new arbiter of truth.

    June 1, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  22. Thomas

    Mitt Romney is a liar !

    America loves Weird Willard !

    June 1, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  23. WatchDawg

    Hey...Gimmeabreak!

    1) Romney took investor money and created success after success (a few failures along the way come with the territory). 2) Obama took OUR tax dollars and created failure after failure (a few successes along the way come with the territory). As for me, I'll take #1 any day.

    Romney all the way!!

    ----------

    If for some unseen circumstance Mitt does get to the White House, one can only hope with your RAH RAH Romney all the way schtick, you will be able to hang onto you job when we go back to the failed Bush policies that saw 700,000 jobs bleed from the economy monthly...

    Yup...RAH RAH Romney...

    President Obama 2012

    June 1, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  24. Jewels

    Anne-Florida: Nicely put!

    June 1, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  25. Helena Montana

    Looking forward to President Obama debating Mitt Romney! OBAMA/BIDEN 2012!

    June 1, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
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