May 31st, 2012
01:27 PM ET
3 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. ST

    Here is my question: How much money Romney has secured back by having a stop at Solyndra and giving a speech there?

    May 31, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  2. Valentina

    Hello President Romney! I can hardly wait for that moment to come.

    May 31, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  3. OregonSam

    So 1/2 a billion right......didn't bush give like 20 times that to AIG and they still have yet to pay it back to the tax payers? I would say 1/2 a billion is a drop in the bucket to what AIG still owes the tax payers.

    May 31, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  4. paulcat

    Good try Willard Mitt Romney.

    May 31, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  5. jim

    It was a good idea that President Romney made the trip.

    May 31, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    "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"

    Be sure to mention my complaints about the same thing, and that I'm from the other side of the political spectrum from you. Tthat would mean no bias, so be honest with yourself and your class. More to the point, do something worthwhile and study CNN's censorship. That actually happens and would make a good report, unlike a report about your baseless complaints (none of us get all our posts put up).

    May 31, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  7. Detada

    What a joke of a photo op by a joke of a candidate.

    May 31, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  8. Mario

    Romney is a FAILED Governor. He took a state was 31 in job creation and left it 47th.

    May 31, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  9. demogoat

    The CEO's of Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin had a combined income of $78 million in 2011. We all know what these masters of industry produce, and where their income comes from (our tax dollars). When the GOP and the Tea party members of congress accept that the defense department has become the black hole of your federal tax dollars being wasted, maybe we can finally sit down and have a discussion about spending cuts.

    May 31, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  10. sassysticks53

    President Obama should visit the Cayman Islands to check on Robme's stash of money hidden to avoid paying his fair share of taxes!

    May 31, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  11. Brian in DC

    Solyndra is just a drop in the bucket of failed Obama investments.

    May 31, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  12. ddt

    The Obama admistration invested public money in a public company that in the end would help the people. The amount as stated is $500M compare that to Billions of dallors spent on wars. What did the people get in return? Dead bodies of men and women 4,400 of them and more than 25,000 of them are now disabled or still in hospital. The American people will determine that Jan 6, 2012.

    May 31, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  13. Jason

    ROBmeys dream for America. Every single job outsourced. Every single pension fund robbed. Every single American worshiping Joseph smith.

    May 31, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  14. scmom

    I guess everyone that comment on this blog is wealthy as hell. If you live anywhere and listen to any news besides FOX you will know who is buying the Romney presidency. If by chance he wins, you can bet he is not worry about the middle class and poor. He is most definitely beholding to the millionairs and billionares and he needs them more than he needs the middle class and poor. Yeah, he'll bring a change alright but you won't like it.

    May 31, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  15. sassysticks53

    @luvtheUSA; Romney doesn't give a fig about you unless you are part of the 1%. You should join us. Besides, Mr. Romney is a coward.

    May 31, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  16. vatoloke

    luvtheUSA: 2 words

    KETTLE/POT

    May 31, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  17. Phil T. Listener

    And how much were we bilked for by Halliburton?

    May 31, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  18. Wake up people

    He didn't have to keep it a secret. President Obama doesn't follow him around, he follows the POTUS!

    OBAMA 2012!

    May 31, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  19. JH

    “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.”

    Didn't the tax payer funded the auto bailout back in 2009? Now the domestic auto industry is back in the black because of TAX PAYER FUNDED BAILOUT. Didn't Romney took credit for the auto industry recovery? Wait, he wasn't even part of the government that approved the bailout. According to Romney, it's socialism for the government to take part in private enterprise, yet wasn't the auto bailout funded by the government, hence socialism? Romney can take "credit" even when he has nothing to do w/ it. So is the auto bailout not socialism since it succeeded?

    That comment by him showed me all that I need to know about him. He'll do anything to get elected,even giving himself credit for something he has nothing to do w/ it.

    By the way, I'm a centered Republican and voted for Bush 2x. I'm ashamed of how my party has gone to the extreme right over the years. Come back to the center, fellow GOPers.

    May 31, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  20. Montana Dude

    Romney's full of Mitt

    May 31, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  21. FantasyBaron

    This is precious! The world and especially the Chinese cried foul over the American attempt to corner the solar market and then the Chinese spent four times as much money to win the governments' solar arms race. We lost! Woo hoo! The good paying jobs to manufacture solar will be in China with everything else. Yee haa!

    Mitt just made a career decision – he should have kept out of the gutter but now that he's going negative Obama will toy with him like a cat chasing a string. Should have shut up Mitt and maybe you could have slid in.

    May 31, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  22. John P. Tarver

    Obama picked the winner in American solar energy and they failed.

    May 31, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  23. i want a mega rich Mormon who hides money overseas, and a master tax evader as president

    Liar n chief. Golden lucky undies.

    May 31, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  24. O-blame-o The Clown

    Double slam by team Romney today. Blew up Axelrod in Mass, and then sprung this surprise. I am shocked by how well organized team Romney is, and am now convinced that they have what it takes to win in November

    May 31, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  25. KeepItReal

    @tykl

    It never ceases to amaze me how a lack of education will make you say anything to get attention. No surprise you are a supporter of Willard as you adhere to any lie he and FAKE news tells you.

    May 31, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
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