May 31st, 2012
01:27 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney makes surprise visit to Solyndra

Fremont, California (CNN) - In a tightly-guarded surprise campaign stop, Mitt Romney visited failed energy company Solyndra Thursday and invoked the building as a symbol of what he called President Obama's misuse of taxpayer dollars.

The visit - kept a secret by the campaign until shortly before the candidate and the press arrived at the site - offered a hulking visual to accompany Romney’s repeated criticism of Obama over the Solyndra scandal.

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Standing on a gritty embankment across the street from Solyndra’s edifice, Romney called the glass-fronted building the “Taj Mahal” of corporate headquarters and a symbol “gross waste” and accused the president of cronyism.

“This building, this half a billion-dollar taxpayer investment, represents a serious conflict of interest on the part of the president and his team,” Romney said. “It's also a symbol of how the president thinks about free enterprise. Free enterprise to the president means taking money from the taxpayers and giving it freely to his friends.”

The solar energy company based outside San Francisco went bankrupt less than two years after receiving a $535 million loan in 2009 from the Department of Energy.

The Thursday visit was kept a tight secret by the Romney campaign, which told reporters they needed to travel in a campaign bus to an undisclosed location.

A Romney adviser said the campaign had concealed the event location for fear the Obama administration would somehow prevent them from staging it.

During his news conference, Romney alluded to protests organized by Democratic activists that have disrupted several previous campaign events, and said his campaign had wanted to head off any efforts by his rivals to keep him from speaking.

“I think that there are people who don’t want to see this event occur, don’t want to have questions asked about this particular investment, don’t want to have people delve into the idea that the president took a half a billion dollars of taxpayer money and devoted it to an enterprise that was owned in large measure by his campaign contributors,” he said. “I think there are a number of people among the president’s team that don’t want that story to get out. We wanted to make sure it did.”

Obama administration officials have called the failed Solyndra loan a disappointing result in their ongoing support of innovative technology and have vowed to continue investing in clean energy.

“Over the course of this first term, we will have doubled the use of renewable energy in this country,” David Axelrod, Obama campaign senior adviser, said Thursday in an interview to air on CNN’s “John King, USA.”

He added Romney was simply using the Solyndra stop as a “diversion” from recent attacks against his corporate career in private equity

“One thing the president never did was buy a company, load it up with debt, bankrupt that company, and walk away with millions of dollars while the creditors and the workers were left holding an empty bag,” Axelrod said, taking a shot at Romney’s former firm, Bain Capital. “The president’s never done that.”

Romney's visit to Solyndra was the latest step in a continued push from Team Romney and Republicans to paint the president as harmful for job creation, which has used Solyndra as its central argument. The Republican National Committee released a video Thursday, which followed similar efforts from the Romney campaign and Crossroads GPS, an independent conservative group.

– Watch the full interview with Axelrod at 6 p.m. ET on CNN's "John King, USA"

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 • Energy • Mitt Romney
soundoff (408 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "During his news conference, Romney alluded to protests organized by Democratic activists that have disrupted several previous campaign events, and said his campaign had wanted to head off any efforts by his rivals to keep him from speaking."

    You mean like the noisy jackholes who protested while Axlerod was speaking in MA and even tried to use a bubble machine to screw up the event?

    May 31, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  2. Nathan

    I guess the tax breaks Romeny sought and received form the taxpayers when he was buying up companies to loot at Bain is not the same thing. Its funny that Romney says that in business you win some and you lose some. Why dosen't that apply to Solyndra. They took a chance and it didn't work out. According to Romney when that happened at Bain its just business. When it happens at Solyndra its cronysim.

    May 31, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  3. anthony78

    Hey Mitt... will your next stop be at a GM plant?
    What about a trip to California to visit the Space-X plant and the Dragon capsule... Oh wait...

    I guess you're better off landing on an aircraft carrier under a "Mission Accomplished"...
    or at the offices of Haliburton... oh wait.. DOh!

    Mitt complains about Obama losing an investment in innovative new energy fields, but hasn't said a word about the 2 TRILLION lost in Bush&Dick's attempts at stealing Iraq's oil.

    THis guy is a clown. Have we heard ANY solutions come out of this guy's mouth???

    May 31, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  4. Paul Price

    Jobs are being created for the past 27 months, stopping the bleeding of 700,000 jobs lost in December 2008. Is it good enough? No. Is it moving in the right direction? Damn right.

    I am not, and will never be a support source for Romney, but I will give him a suggestion:

    •Release your tax returns. Late on Friday, April 13, you announced you'd sought an
    extension for your 2011 tax returns but planned to release them "sometime in the
    next six months." Everybody already knows you are rich and pay a relatively low
    federal tax rate. Do you really want them to be reminded again in, say, mid-October?
    The sooner you get last year's returns out, the better. Those tax returns are FAR more
    important than a report card

    May 31, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. Horace P Manure

    So bankrupting companies and placing the burden on American taxpayers is totally cool with the GOP?

    May 31, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    Not to mention that Mittens' "concerns' about protesters were flimsy nonsense. He and his adviser clearly tried to paint a conspiracy picture that accused Obama and the administration of wanting to abuse their power to silence him. It was a dirty, cynical fabrication with absolutely no support whatsoever. You can expect far more of this from them as the months go on.

    May 31, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  7. Four and The Door

    Yawn
    One company failed, therefore all solar and 'green jobs' are invalid. That is logical(sarcasm). Yet there continue to be other solar manufacturers in the United States that have not failed. One reason they are not failing is because they just introduced a 30% tariff on cheap Chinese panels that were flooding the market, because the Chinese are producing these panels below the cost of manufacturing, as they are heavily subsidized.
    _____________________________________________________________________________________________
    Expect the cost of solar power in the US to go up because of these reckless tariffs. Expect fewer 'green' jobs in the solar power industry in America because of these reckless tariffs. Typical Obama knee-jerk reaction making things worse with government intervention rather than fixing anything. Still wonder why we are where we are after 3 1/2 years?

    May 31, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  8. Big George in Big D

    @Bob – Goldman Sach's employees work – welfare recipients LIVE OFF OF US that do work! There is a huge difference.

    May 31, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  9. Mark

    If Mitt is the businessman he claims to be, he should know that no more than 1 in 10 new ventures succeed. No one likes losing money, but investments are not a sure thing. Well we did lose at this one.... But let's not forget Detroit that Mitt wanted to throw under the bus... The value of the auto industry in terms of both commercial and corporate income tax exceeds this $500m...

    May 31, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  10. Mark from Louisiana

    From this story: “One thing the president never did was buy a company, load it up with debt, bankrupt that company, and walk away with millions of dollars while the creditors and the workers were left holding an empty bag,” Axelrod said, taking a shot at Romney’s former firm, Bain Capital. “The president’s never done that.”

    With Solyndra, the private investors who both gave lot's of money to the obama campaign and invested in Solyndra were put ahead of the taxpayers to be paid back after the bankrupt company was sold. The Energy Dept, changed the terms of the loan when it was obvious that Solyndra was going bust. The original terms as used on all grants/loans were for the taxpayers to be at the front of the line to get their money back. obama made sure his friends are paid back before us.

    Why won't the media investigate why 80% of the DOE grants and loans went to people who made big contributions to obama's campaign?

    May 31, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  11. jayyyfresh

    Middle and low class will always try to blame the rich for their struggles... Instead of pointing fingers they should work on improving their living standards !!:)

    May 31, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  12. Paul Price

    Jobs are being created for the past 27 months, stopping the bleeding of 700,000 jobs lost in December 2008. Is it good enough? No. Is it moving in the right direction? Yes, it is.

    I am not, and will never be a support source for Romney, but I will give him a suggestion:

    •Release your tax returns. Late on Friday, April 13, you announced you'd sought an
    extension for your 2011 tax returns but planned to release them "sometime in the
    next six months." Everybody already knows you are rich and pay a relatively low
    federal tax rate. Do you really want them to be reminded again in, say, mid-October?
    The sooner you get last year's returns out, the better. Those tax returns are FAR more
    important than a report card

    May 31, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  13. ghostriter

    BTW, the loan that originated during the Bush years wasn't stopped because they thought it was bad. The paperworks wasn't finished in time for Bush to claim credit. Otherwise, he'd have pushed it thru already.

    But let's have some fun. Solyndra applied for the loan guarntee a full two years before Obama took office because they read the tea leaves and saw that he would be elected. Then they donated to his campaign, knowing full well that he would be elected and would be beholden to them and grant them this wish. Boy, they should've just picked luckyu lotto numbers and saved the time and effort.

    May 31, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  14. Norma from Normal

    As a veteran of our military, I'd like Romney to host a news gathering next to one of our military bases and discuss why he fills he should hold the position as Commander-in-Chief of our military when he nor any of his FIVE sons did not serve in our country's military.

    May 31, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  15. Mark from Louisiana

    And in breaking news, another politically motivated deal using $3 Billion of taxpayers money goes bust.

    A politically connected, taxpayer-funded solar firm announced a massive round of furloughs on Friday, just weeks after its chairman told Congress his company was “financially strong.”

    First Solar, an Arizona-based solar panel manufacturer that received more than $3 billion in federal loan guarantees under President Obama, has furloughed half of the 240-person workforce at its Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One (AVSR1) power plant near Los Angeles.

    The announcement comes two weeks after First Solar chairman Michael Ahearn told members of the House Oversight committee that the company “remains financially strong and well positioned to execute through the current market environment.”

    May 31, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  16. Colinmb

    medianone – don't confuse them with actual facts. Totally throws off their concentration and makes their diatribes even harder to comprehend. Just do like I do and sit back and watch the stupidity being spewed.

    May 31, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  17. MaryM

    Mitt, where is your tax return and all that money you are hiding in the Caymen Islands and Swiss bank accounts.
    Not finished sanitizing the returns yet.?

    May 31, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  18. GI Joe

    If you think Robme's secretive now, wait until he has the entire US military behind him. Oh wait - the wars he wants will be on every front page after they are started. Don't worry oh wealthy ones - he'll only recruit the poorest.

    That's why he wants to outlaw birth control – gotta keep them babies coming to continue the republican wars generation after generation after generation. The draft will definitely come back.

    May 31, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  19. "I like our math"...

    "I like our math" says Axelrod....What math...the misuse of taxpayers money paid-out to Solyndra...or the $billon stimulus wasted, etc...sofar Obama's White House stay he added to the National debt another $4trillion...Right Axelrod keep on saying "I like our math" and we will believe you that Obama wants to keep on adding to you Math.....

    May 31, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  20. Ronda in Houston,TX

    Dec. 2006
    Solyndra applies for government-guaranteed loan under Bush administration.

    The End.....

    May 31, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  21. TomGI

    Stupid ploy. Nothing gained for Romney. Who is planning these appearances dummy?

    May 31, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  22. GI Joe

    Robme's prissy little short-step walk gets lots of attention from the gay guys. ha ha ha ha ha ha

    May 31, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  23. tumbleweed

    unfiltered

    "obama's father is a black hero- 25 yr old man married w/ children and knocks a 17 yr old white ho up and flees town so her family can raise his son"

    Who became YOUR commander and chief!!! And leader of the free world. Aint it a beautiful thing... you idiot.

    May 31, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  24. Colinmb

    Mark from Louisiana – 80% of DOE loans have been made in the last 3 years? Wow. News to everyone including those of us that had received them years ago when certain Republican presidents were in office and our company made contributions to their campaign. Just an FYI, it would stand to reason that the percentages of DOE loans that went oto campaign contributors were very similar during all previous administrations since the president appoints the Secretary of Energy and hopefully he has the same vision/strategy as the person appointing him.

    May 31, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. Ex-GOP Con

    =================
    So Rich Money went to gloat?
    =================

    May 31, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
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