(CNN) - President Barack Obama weighed in Friday on the controversy surrounding when Mitt Romney surrendered leadership of his former financial firm, Bain Capital, saying he thinks the Republican candidate should address questions that have been raised.
The issue has dominated the political conversation since documents surfaced earlier in the week suggesting that Romney might not have left Bain in 1999 as his campaign has long claimed.
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Asked in an interview with Washinton-area station WJLA whether he thought Romney was being dishonest with the American people, Obama quoted Harry Truman, saying that as president "the buck stops with you."
"My understanding is that Mr. Romney attested to the (Securities and Exchange Commission), multiple times, that he was the chairman, CEO and president of Bain Capital, and I think most Americans figure if you are the chairman, CEO and president of a company that you are responsible for what that company does," Obama said.
"Ultimately Mr. Romney, I think, is going to have to answer those questions, because if he aspires to being president, one of the things you learn is, you are ultimately responsible for the conduct of your operations. But again, that's probably a question that he's going to have to answer, and I think that's a legitimate part of the campaign."
Asked if he thought Romney needed to clarify his position with Bain "soon," the president responded, "Yeah, absolutely."
The interview was conducted after an Obama rally in Virginia Beach.
The president's campaign quickly issued a tweet promoting the WJLA interview and another including a link to a new campaign web video that attempts to explain why the Obama team feels the apparent discrepancy is "important."
The video features CNN's National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta explaining that if Romney was indeed in charge of Bain after 1999, he could be held responsible for actions taken by the firm that his campaign has tried to deny Romney had any involvement in. The Obama campaign's video goes on to list several companies Bain was involved with that it claims either outsourced jobs or filed for bankruptcy after 1999.
In its closing images, the video offers two possible conclusions, "Either Romney filed false SEC statements, or he's making false statements to the American people now."
In an interview with Acosta later Friday afternoon, Romney defended his tenure with Bain and disputed reports he left the firm later than he previously had said.
"There's nothing wrong with being associated with Bain Capital, of course," Romney said. "But the truth is that I left any role at Bain Capital in February of 1999."
The rhetoric over when exactly Romney left Bain has escalated in the days since the new documents were published. The Obama campaign suggested on a conference call Thursday that if Romney misled the SEC it would be a felony, and the Romney campaign responded by saying such a "reckless and unsubstantiated" accusation "calls into question the integrity" of the president's entire campaign.
On Friday, Romney said the Democratic criticism and recent news articles looking into what is 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."
The bishop needs to explain a lot of things he has done in his sheltered preppy life. Most of what is coming out shows a man who is not sure of himself and the only way to get his kicks is to bully and play dress up.
If Robme doesn't have anything to hide it will be easy to explain. But guess what. Robme has something to hide.
Yeah, sure, Obama needs to explain why he used tax payer money to build factories overseas. Plus the rest of his lousy economic record.
Telling the truth is admirable but if Romney is hiding his tax history and Bain Capital he ought to tell the truth because you can run but you can not hide.
Romney doesn't need to explain a thing. Obama needs to explain why he's determined to destroy this country. Oh that's right- he hates colonialism.
I mocked out of presdient obama that he was not unfair so why presdient obama is lied to hillary clinton obama are not right
Obama is too bad of his job for 3 year
I like support vote for roomey
God blessing with roomey
God will keep looking for obama what happened about his lied
The lady said "if Romney misled the SEC it would be a felony". I don't understand why Romney is whining when he himself said if what he heard about Chinese blind lawyer was true, it was a sad day for Obama administration.
It is IF.
Obama is right. Mr Romney please answer the question.
you signed to the SEC that you were CEO and managing director of Bain capital.
Under US laws that places upon you certain finacial fiduciary and legal obligations, that you cannot avoid by being in absentia. If you wished to avoid that you should have resigned. It appears you were also paid for these years 1999, 2000 and 2001 at least.
Grasping at straws again Obama. How about lead our country and our economy. The obamaconomy is terrible and we are all in worse shape thanks to your failure as a president. The obamaconomy stinks. Only a few more months of his nonsensical judgements. I can't wait for a highly educated businessman to take the office and turn the
Economy in the right direction. Romney 2012
Romney has answered the questions. Obama is playing semantics. It is really disappointing of him.
I said no excuse for presdient obama that obama make too many mistake for 3 yrs congress would reject against presdient obama for 3 yrs
Obama make lots fool for amercian people cause people are stupaid lots soft support for obama
I mocked out of presdient obama so I don't understand why obama make lots lied to hillary clinton
I'm feel shame to presdient obama for 3 yrs
"Obama says Romney needs to explain his Bain timetable." OK! That may? be fair. However, Mr. Obama, YOU need to explain why you are continuously attempting to ruin America and why YOU and your chums (who receive millions of tax-payer dollars to kiss your backside) continually lie to the American populace. Lets not forget that America needs to see YOUR "official/true" birth certificate, your "official"college transcripts, and the "real" reasons you so often invoke Executive Power. What is your administration trying to hide?! Americans have a right to know!!!
Why are you so afraid of telling the truth and nothing but the truth to the American people?!
Also, why are you hell bent on dismantling the welfare program and creating more dependency?! This is probably one of the better working government run programs. Oops! Skip this one. I think I know the answer to it. Votes, votes!
This election is about Wealthy v/s Middle Class America.
After reviewing the evidence, it is clear. Mitt Romney is indeed a LIAR. Looking at the Romney campaign and the republicans campaigning with him is like watching a rerun of Eddie Murphy in the Distinguished Gentleman.
And Obama needs to explain all the stuff going on in his administration. Transparency, remember?
Anyone with half a brain in business understands Romney's record with Bain. Mr. Obama, I have no respect for you.
Don't ever trust a man or woman that "gets a lot of money" for doing nothng for years.