(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.
Someone get this guy a bucket for his tears of woe.
Why does everybody owe Mittens an apology. Answer the question and stop asking for apologies!
BOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Who's whining now. Too late. It is time to litigate! Holder should be fired up to take action on behalf of the American taxpayer. Bring in the DoJ!.
The GOP has spent four years calling Obama a communist, socialist and then went on a rampage insisting he wasn't even born in this country. Those baseless accusations are much more vile and evil than anything the Obama camp has ever done.
It's shameful to see Obama and the Democrats lying, but this should not come at a surprise. They are desperate and know that their time is nearly up. In November, I am confident that the American people will vote with their brain. Romney is the right man for America. A shining city on a hill, America is a beacon of hope and opportunity. Only Romney can restore that. Obama as trashed it as so many Americans now know.
Romney needs to drop the self-righteous indignation and come clean about his taxes and tenure at Bain. He's got a history of sneakiness....destroying all his hardrives at the end of his governorship in MA, not releasing his tax returns, etc. What else is he hiding? And he expects the American people to trust him??????????????? I think not!
Romney can't be trusted to tell the truth. This is the same guy who called Obama on the day healthcare reform passed, and congratulated him and fellow Dems, going on & on at what a wonderful bill is is, and how good it will be for the Country.
And now he says he's against it, pretending none of this stuff went down. How could anyone vote for this guy?
Romney will come in 2nd place.
Who's fooling who?
"But the truth is that I left any role at Bain Capital in February of 1999."
And again, the issue is that on SEC filings, he did NOT leave Bain until 2002.
So where's the "deception" on the part of the President's team, which is calling it as it is, not as the right spins it.
I think Mr. Romney misses the point: somebody running for the POTUS should be held to the highest scrutiny. His finances are fair game–everything is fair game these days. Seems strange a guy like him couldn't get his accountants to step it up a little bit and finish preparing those taxes so he could prove his innocence and just put this all to rest. He's got nothing to hide, right?
Obama better be careful or he is going to burn his bridges with Richie Rich and spoil their otherwise wonderful friendship.
Oh, the horror of it all–"false and deceptive and dishonest" accusations on the campaign trail. Surely that never happened before. Oh wait, isn't Romney's sidekick and mouthpiece, Donald Trump, still saying President Obama wasn't born in the U.S., and all the while MIttens just stands there with a smile on his face? And when is Romney going to release his tax returns?
He left a company in ruins and thousands out of work stop making excuses Mitt we all know what you did.
A demand for apologies from a GOP candidate can only merit one response: doubling down on whatever they're whining about. When these sort of accusations come from the party responsible for the Swiftboating campaign, the Willie Horton ad, and pretty much accusing any and all political opponents of being communists since the 50's...lectures about what is appropriate in a campaign fall flat. So yeah, Obama, for the love of God, keep hammering Romney about Bain Capital.
In 2002 when running for governor he had hearings to prove he was a MS resident.in which even though his primary residence was in Utah, he was in Massachusetts all the time for work and social visits.
In 2012 when distancing himself from Brain, he argues he was 24/7 in Utah during the same time peroid.
pot calling the kettle – well, you know....
Romney has not only taken both sides of every issue.
He also has two different stories for everything he's ever done.
"But the truth is that I left any role at Bain Capital in February of 1999." ... except for being Chairman of the Board, President and CEO until 2002. Yeah, who's the deceptive and dishonest one?
Romney is spending a zillion million to buy time on all these networks and cable news stations to deny these charges. The truth is the Americans people aren't interested. Dick Cheney will have to come up with another fund raiser. Why don't the Democrats tell us just how many zillion millions it is costing the Romney campaign for these buys?
Ok – put your big boy pants on Mitt, this is a Presidential Election coming up. Obama had to go through 'paling' around with terrorists, being a secret Muslim, not being born the the USA – you name it. So get used to it and move on.
Oh America.. These are the type of people you're stuck with.. the best of limited options
OK...a lot of smoke and mirrors here.
First, if Mr. Romney has nothing to hide, why is he only releasing 2 years of tax returns? He was high on the list as the VP to the McCain 2008 campaign, right up until he submitted his tax returns. Did they see something that we, the voters, didn't see?
Second, while I don't like the flavor of election-year politics, it's not a light accusation if Mr. Romney misrepresented himself, either to the SEC or to the American voters. SEC filings are a matter of public record, and Mr. Romney had no controlling role in Bain after February 1999, but the filing with the SEC says otherwise (until 2002), this could either end up with Mr. Romney facing criminal fraud charges or with him losing face with the voters for lying about his position with a company that profited from the misery of others.
Either way, it ain't a pretty picture.
I didn't know the word "dignity" was in Romney's vocabulary. Romney simply needs to do what other presidential candidates, including his own father, do: release his last 12 IRS returns. This isn't going to go away. It will follow Romney at every step. He just needs to get it over with.
Romney's slicker than a used car salesman.