(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.
Related: Why is 1999 so important to 2012?
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.
Related: Romney team defiant in response to Bain attack
"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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I knew way before this that the Obama campaign was deceptive. They definitely owe Mitt Romney an apology. This was just wrong, and they knew what they were saying was inaccurate.
Now there's the pot calling the kettle black! (no pun intended)
This what happens when you continually hit your "reset button". Mitt v.2 tends to forget the (on the record) statements previously made by Mitt v.1
Its sad, about 30 millions middle class Americans have almost lost everything. maybe holding on to a 401k, a car and a mortgage on a house they don't really own. But they still don't qualify for medicaid because our system says they have to much. These so called Religious conservatives say screw you no healthcare for you and your family go die.
“When facism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
Who cares when Mitt left Bain? All I care about is when is Obama going to leave the White House so we can begin to fix this country....
If this was an issue don't you think Newt and Rick Santorum would have brought this up?
Desperation is a stinky cologne.
The man cant stop lying or he would put up or shut up over the last 12 years of taxes but he wont because hes a liar and charlatan. His dad must be turning over in his grave over the failures of his son, the families hes destroyed the futures hes devastated.
Obama clearly must try to take the attention away from the results of his last 4 years in office. The first 3 he spent blaming Bush for his failures, now he has no one to blame but himself and the Democratic controlled House and Senate in place for the first two years of his office. Shouldn't we start to see the results of what they had two full years to put in place? The truth is, we are seeing those results and they are not pretty . I was a Clinton supporter and gave Obama the benefit of the doubt in 2008 thinking he would be a better President and all the talk of a Socialist agenda was just a bunch a political mudslinging. Turns out everything they predicted would happen has happened. While I am not a big fan of Romney, I can't see myself supporting Obama again.
I,m an independent trying to make a decision. That was a very disappointing interview.. Acosta seemed overwelmed by the moment. He lost control from the outset and allowed the candidate to dominate the time with rhetorlc, hesitant, it appeared, to interrupt. I guess I expected more professional preperation from a national political correpondant. It,s difficult to reach an informed decision, based on facts, if the agent for that data is unwilling to say "That,s not what I asked". Below mediocore performanmce. Just my opinion.
The people of USA, i did not tell the truith, i lied to yu earlier. Actuallly, I left the firm years later than I had previously said . Buit its Ok, you can vote for me even though i am a big lair . I M. Romney Approve tis message "
If you are the CEO and sole owner you are responsible for all decisions. Now that he says no then the SEC should charge him with fraud.
Romney if the American people are ever to believe you and your record at Bain, then release your tax records for the past 20 years. The only reason for any candidate to withhold tax records it tax evasion, which your cayman island accounts strongly suggest you still currently do.
As an independent voter I will not consider wasting my vote on a candidate that has shifted a large amount of his assets to avoid taxes in the US and certainly not one that has potentially outsourced american jobs overseas.
Mr. Romney the burden of proof is on you. Please release your tax records and if they are truly clean Mr. Obama will lose the election. But failure to do so will be the single greatest political mistake of this election
Obama clearly must try to take the attention away from the results of his last 4 years in office. The first 3 he spent blaming Bush for his failures, now he has no one to blame but himself and the Democratic controlled House and Senate in place for the first two years of his office. Shouldn't we start to see the results of what they had two full years to put in place? The truth is, we are seeing those results and they are not pretty . I was a Clinton supporter and gave Obama the benefit of the doubt in 2008 thinking he would be a better President and all the talk of a Socialist agenda was just a bunch a political mudslinging. Turns out everything they predicted would happen has happened. While I am not a big fan of Romney, I can't see myself supporting Obama again. He is the lesser of two evils.
Romney is big liar, He should come clean other wise Obama campaign will demand lot of explanation because they have evidence
umm.. can you say: Pot calling the kettle black
is romney talking about himself, deceptive and dishonest. is romney still claiming to be a big game hunter to try and suck up to the NRA, again. the majority of voters are already fed up with romney and his bs.
The Boston Globe begs to differ, Biff Rmoney
So if my tax accountant messes up my taxes and I sign them can i say it wasn't my fault you can't hold me responsible for any funds unaccounted for? – I didn't think so.
1999 – 2002
"I retired in 1999. And I am such an incredible businessman it actually only took me four years to transfer ownership and management of Bain Capital to my team. Imagine how little I could get done in four years at the White House."
Since Mitt was admittedly still the "owner" and only share holder, and was still listed as the CEO, even as he left to "save" the Olympics.......it's hard to believe that the company he continued to own would make major deals and investments without his approval. You just can't run from this Mitt.......best thing would be to own up to it, take the heat and then move on.
The Obama attack proves that either the admin hasn't a clue about SEC filings or they are deliberately trying to mislead the public. Either way it is embarrassing.
Whether he sat behind the desk or not, technically and legally he was still in the position so Obama's information is correct. I think it speaks poorly of Romney to claim this is an error by the Obama campaign when it is clearly the result of his own lack of full disclosure.
Poor baby. He destroyed companies and made millions but now can't take the heat.
Acosta, where's the follow up questions? This was a real patsy interview. On another interview Romney said he "couldn't recall" being involved in any meetings after 1999. In another article, he attended meetings regarding Staples after he supposedly left. Romney's statements are illogical He is cautiously parsing is words. How can a person be President, CEO and sole stock owner and NOT be involved in any business decisions for three years? I've worked for CEO's, several, and not one could stay out of the business for a week, let alone three years. I call BS!
I wish I made $100,000 a year from some company for two years while I wasn't working there.....