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.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

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. kayla

    why doesn't the stiff visit gm?

    May 31, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  2. PJ/TX

    This is just childish stupidity. They had to "conceal the event" or "if word got out"? Good grief, this wasn't a
    trip to Afghanistan, it was just a dumb move. Not only is Mitt spineless obviously has no common sense.

    May 31, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  3. ToldUso

    Oh, my mistake. I thought this would be about Mitt visiting his money in Switzerland.

    May 31, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  4. Romney=No Plan

    And he did this because....???

    Romney has absolutely NO PLAN for this country and it's becoming more obvious when he pulls stunts like this. Just one time I want to hear him speak about his plans and not just regurgitate the same policies that lead us into the economic downturn in the first place. OBAMA 12

    May 31, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  5. Woman In California

    "We knew, if word got out, that Solyndra would do everything in their power, and the Obama administration would do everything in their power, to stop us from having this news conference," the adviser said.

    I live very close to Fremont and I am so glad, I MISSED his visit. Having said that – do they really think 1) the American people are this stupid; and 2) does he really think he will ever occupy the White House with these types of lies?

    This man is the WORST candidate to EVER run for POTUS and the sooner November gets here – the better. Good riddance Willard!

    May 31, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  6. Elizabeth

    Classy move Mitt!!! Rub it into the employees' faces who lost their jobs. Try not to be so gleeful that their employer went bankrupt.

    May 31, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  7. carrotroot

    Well you win some and you loose some, but at least they tried to invest in a clean energy source which would lessen our dependence on oil. Unfortunately it didn't work out with Solyndra, but I blame the people who ran the company for its failure, not the government.

    May 31, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    Mittens' idea of "investment" is to take over a healthy company, lay off a bunch of employees, borrow against its assets, pay himself and his investors a huge fee, then abandon the company to struggle under all the debt he left it with.

    Icing on the cake: When Mittens and crew sell the company, their "income" is taxed at 15% because it's considered a "capital gain."

    Do a little research, folks, and you'll see that the "vision" Mittens has for our country will result in a devastated economy and the top 1% making out like thieves.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    May 31, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Atta a girl, Mittens; sneak in there and shoot another of your lie-filled campaign ads. You know you wanna.

    May 31, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  10. Evangenital

    Stiff Mitt is like a top with a string. Is this the way to "fight" for Americans?

    May 31, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  11. john Riggs

    “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,”

    This is exactly what President Obama has done to our country.

    May 31, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  12. ThinkAgain

    @cf: "Solyndra was "wasteful" but the billions upon billions of dollars Romney and his ilk gleefully hand over to the oil industry in exchange for screwing us all over, is okay?

    "If Republicans really want to make an issue of Solyndra, tell the full story: the funds allocated to them were agreed upon in 2005, before Obama was even in office. Do you remember who was President in 2005? Hmmmm?"

    Thank you for your excellent post. GOPers, teabaggers, Christian fundamentalists and others incapable of critical thought will ignore these FACTS, but the rest of us can't let that keep us from going to the polls in November and re-electing President Obama and electing Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.

    And Dems, Independents and thinking Republicans must ALL go and vote, because the GOP and their governor-minions like Rick Scott in Florida are doing everything they can to suppress voting in their states.

    Get out and vote for the only sane choice: Obama/Biden 2012

    May 31, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  13. rs

    Mr. Romney probably only wanted to see the Solyndra site because it looks like so many of so many places after Bain got through with them. Ah, the good ol' days.

    May 31, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  14. Robert

    Why doesn't he go to Halliburton and KBR in Houston and talk about the no-bid contracts they received for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and demand accountability for the missing funds there. The missing funds will outstrip the funding acquired by Solyndra. At least Solyndra was trying to develop new technology. Halliburton and KBR were just profiteering from the contractor-waged war begun under false pretenses.

    May 31, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  15. Sunnysmom

    He's just jealous he didn't get there to skim the profits off first before running it into the ground.

    May 31, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  16. ME

    You can't sound off here unless your a Democrat... my responses aren't posting.

    May 31, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  17. Copper's Donut Shoppe

    romney, palin, zombies from mars....,
    it don't make a fracking sh!t who is the potus,
    those that buy it get to steal.
    In Florida here we have a man who took the 5th more times than Al Capone,
    spent 72,000,000 of his own nefarious dollars,
    now he is guv.
    the twilight of a fadinhg nation.

    May 31, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  18. Joseph Smith

    Only in Amercia could this happen.

    May 31, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    @Woman in California: "I live very close to Fremont and I am so glad, I MISSED his visit. Having said that – do they really think 1) the American people are this stupid; and 2) does he really think he will ever occupy the White House with these types of lies?"

    Yes, Mittens and the GOP are counting on the American people being stupid and afraid. Why? Because that's ALL THE GOP HAS.

    Lord knows, all their economic, military and foreign policies are PROVEN FAILURES.

    If anyone disagrees, prove me wrong. You won't – because you can't.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    May 31, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  20. Earl Lee Jones

    I think that Mitt. Rommeny has lost his mind. Lets juat stick to the issues, and stop this mudsling campaign.

    May 31, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  21. Chris

    Amazing... the hate on this story directed to Romney? Why? Dear Obama loving, protecting at any costs citizens.. your 4 year disaster is almost up!

    May 31, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  22. Lucky18

    Romney and Trump have the same hair guy! Trumps losing his and Romney has it colored just on top!!!

    May 31, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  23. ThinkAgain

    @carrotroot: "Well you win some and you loose some, but at least they tried to invest in a clean energy source which would lessen our dependence on oil. Unfortunately it didn't work out with Solyndra, but I blame the people who ran the company for its failure, not the government."

    The GOP loves to blame the government for everything bad that happens; funny coming from folks who claim they believe in personal responsibility. Except of course, when it comes to Wall Street failing, then they suddenly believe in socialism; ditto on helping the oil industry with subsidies it doesn't need.

    GOP = Hypocrites to the core

    May 31, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  24. Jeff

    We've seen the dozens of businesses Romney and his company destroyed.

    May 31, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  25. ME

    I am starting to film my posts not being posted. I will present it to my communications class as evidence of media bias. written 5/31/2012 at 12:20pm

    May 31, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17