(CNN) - Following a week of some of the sharpest attacks yet on his management of the financial firm Bain Capital, Mitt Romney offered a vocal defense Friday of his tenure there and strongly disputed reports he left the firm years later than he has previously said.
"There's nothing wrong with being associated with Bain Capital, of course," Romney said in an interview with CNN's Jim Acosta. "But the truth is that I left any role at Bain Capital in February of 1999."
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The Democratic criticisms, combined with a series of recent news articles looking into what is and isn't known of Romney's complicated financial portfolio, are simply "an effort on the part of the president's campaign to divert attention from the fact that the president has been a failure when it comes to reigniting the American economy," Romney said of President Barack Obama.
Romney stopped short of saying Obama's campaign was lying in recent ads hitting at his Bain tenure. Democrats have charged that Bain - under Romney and after - profited when companies owned by Bain closed and when jobs were outsourced overseas.
Obama's campaign, he said, is "putting out information which is false and deceptive and dishonest" in their advertisements.
Financial documents filed with the Security and Exchange Commission, including some obtained and reviewed by CNN, list Romney in various capacities with Bain after what Romney has repeatedly said was his February 1999 departure from the firm. That month, he took the reins of the Salt Lake City Olympic games and "relinquished all management authority and role in Bain Capital," he said in the interview.
Democrats, however, have pointed to the fact that his name appears on Bain Capital financial documents until 2002 as evidence Romney did not actually leave the firm. In 2002, Romney signed a retirement package with the firm and was no longer an owner of the company.
Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter charged in a conference call with reporters this week that Romney "through his own words and his own signature was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony," or was otherwise "misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments."
Presented with Cutter's felony suggestion, Romney asked if that is "really what's expected from the campaign of the sitting president of the United States?"
"Is this the level that the Obama campaign is willing to stoop to? Is this up to the standards expected of the presidency of the United States?" he asked. "It's disgusting, it's demeaning it's something which I think the president should take responsibility for and stop."
In the interview, Romney also lent greater clarity to his intentions surrounding release of his tax returns. In January, Romney released his 2010 return and an estimate of his 2011 tax year liability.
"The law requires us to put out a full financial disclosure and that I've done," he said, adding that the most recent year will be released "as soon as the accountants have that ready.
"And that's what we're going to put out," he said. "People always want to get more and we're putting out what is required plus more that is not required. And those are the two years that people are going to have and that's all that's necessary for people to understand something about my finances."
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