(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."
– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.
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."
Reid: Romney couldn't be confirmed as dog catcher
McDonnell furiously defends Romney from Obama salvo
Biden to Romney: 'Show your papers'
RNC backing Romney with $5 million ad buy
Barbour: If in Romney’s position, I would release tax docs
Watch The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer weekdays at 4pm to 6pm ET and Saturdays at 6pm ET. For the latest from The Situation Room click here.
Hey Mitt, it's an election year. Your campaign hasn't exactly been forthright and honest either. BTW, why are you hiding those tax returns?
No, mr. deceit, that's not all that's necessary. That's why you've lost every time you've come close to anything in this country (except putting $$$$ in your pocket by sending other people's jobs overseas - I know - I lost a job to India caused by YOU).
release your taxes and prove it instead of regurgitating what you said yesterday.
Translation: HOW DARE you serfs not believe me, known in my former galaxy as Count Kolob!
Do as you are told and do not talk back to me, I could buy and sell millions of you!
I will be King!!!
How is it possible that these politicians can retain such strong credibility on every topic, when each comment they make has a 50% probability of being a lie. While I, who never lies cannot convince my mother that the Earth is round.
The arrogance of this guy knows no bounds. "Who dares questioned him"". Not only does he have no fresh ideas, he even copies the president's talking point (and swing them the other way). Makes me wonder if that Harvard degree was bought by pappa Romney.... That jobs bill before elections can be a 100percent decline but that is no way in H... that I can vote for a man with his kind of character. I will just work harder to get more people out to vote for the president. If Romney gets the presidency because "it is his turn" according to the first lady wannabe, get ready America for a long line of Romneys taking "their turns". Remember there are 5 more to come.
It is not important for you to see more tax returns.
Let's review the facts. Romney was 100 percent owner of a company that billed itself as an out-sourcing specialist. Right? I am not saying he did anything.....more like he didn't do anything. That is the fact of it? Right? Or am I missing something?
Does retiring from a company that you are the sole owner of mean anything? Someone is blowing some smoke here.
His Failure at the economy? or the Senate for failure to vote on the Presidents Job Bill?.. Or Fighting him neck to neck on anything hes trying to accomplish?.. yeah the 33 times you've voted at 30,000/day to keep The Senate Running to Repeal Obama care.. 0 times for his jobs bil.. Our nice hard earned Tax dollars at work.
Still no explanation on why his name was on the disclosures, which isn't normal, contrary to his acting like it is. Companies take very careful note that reporting (especially for new issues) are meticulously reviewed before filed because lawsuits and fines resulting from mistatements are meant to be very punitive to keep it from happening. The hubris he shows in his response is dissappointing, either him or Bain misled large groups of people. It's so absurd on its face.
Why are you hiding the tax returns Flipper?
Nothing else will do.
Any good crisis management team will tell you: "get it out get it all own NOW!"
I am more interested in what Romney can do rather than what he has done. The president had his chance. Now it is time to step aside.
President Romney, there are many, many lemmings clinging to the Obama regime. Any and everything logical that you state will being twisted by this corrupt regime. God Bless you Mitt Romney.
Why do I feel like Romney was trying his best not to answer the questions?
The interview was described as being very good.
"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?"
How about some sort of response in defence to the allegation of committing a felony!
Typical Karl Rove technique. Simply accuse the other side of what you are guilty of. Dude- show us your income tax records and be done with it if you are so freaking innocent.
If he left Bain in 1999, then why do SEC reports show that he negotiated a new deal with Stericycle in 2001? Which is a medical disposal company that among other things disposes of aborted fetuses, yet he says he's not pro abortion.
Since when has name calling been breaking news, LOL.
I dont think Obama is the one going around lying and being deceptive. Mitt is just feeling the heat so he starts crying foul. Just show the papers mitt.
What do you expect from Odummer – as he IS a Chicago "gutter politician"!!!! BHO is just knocking more nails into his own coffin out of pure desperation!!!
Romeny pretty much didn't disprove anything about his lie to the Mass election board that he only took a leave of absence and didn't quit Bain so that he could get on the ballot in 2002. He lived and worked in Salt Lake City for those years and came back to Boston to swoop in for glory. And the guy won't live up to his own father's standards on tax returns.
Only one year of tax returns is not "...all that's necessary for people to understand something about my finances." as Romney falsely claims.
There are many questions left unanswered by Romney's secrecy. Consequently, I do not trust him and will not vote for Romney this election.
That headline is pretty hilarious. "BREAKING NEWS: Romney claims the Obama campaign is deceptive and dishonest"? Real shocker, that one. In other breaking news, this forum will be a cesspool of moronic political mudslinging in no time flat.
Why is this breaking news??? Seems like regular campaigning to me. The same thing everyday... Great job campaigning for Mitt Romney CNN. You guys have done well with this lately. I have almost stop watching CNN for this reason.
Who cares? I wish all of these politicians, both Republican and Democrat, would focus on the REAL issues affecting our once great country.
OK. Which is it, Romney? Were you a CEO, and that is why you think you should be president, or were you not responsible for the day-to-day operations at Bain, and that is why you think you should be president? It can't be both.