July 13th, 2012
09:20 PM ET
2 years ago

What we learned from Mitt Romney

Washington (CNN) - Mitt Romney tried time and again to make one thing clear in our interview. On five different occasions in the first few minutes of the interview, Romney said he had “no role whatsoever” at Bain Capital after February 1999.

Here are the ways he said it:

“I had no role whatsoever in the management of Bain Capital after February of 1999.”

“I left in February of 1999 to go out and run the Olympics.”

“I went out and did that full-time, relinquished all management authority and role in Bain Capital after February of 1999.”

“But the truth is that I left any role at Bain Capital in February of ’99.”

“And I had no role whatsoever in managing Bain Capital after February of 1999.”

That kind of repetition doesn’t happen by accident. After days of questions about Bain Capital filings at the Securities and Exchange Commission showing Romney still with the company after 1999, the year he has cited repeatedly as his departure date from the firm, the GOP contender and his campaign agreed to a round robin of interviews with the correspondents who cover his candidacy.

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He repeated virtually the same denial, nearly word for word (perhaps not as many times) in all of the interviews.

But when pressed whether he was concerned that the discrepancy between his own words and government documents may one day cause a distraction for his campaign, Romney volunteered a broad defense of the firm’s work.

“Well, there’s nothing wrong with being associated with Bain Capital, of course.”

Romney also addressed questions in various news reports about recently revealed Massachusetts state documents indicating that, after 1999, he sat in on board meetings for the office supply chain Staples, a company he helped found when at Bain Capital.

“Bain Capital had already sold its shares or distributed its shares in Staples. And so my involvement with Staples was entirely on a personal basis,” Romney said. “I continued to be involved with the firm. But it was as a fiduciary for Staples, not as a representative of Bain Capital.”

The real fireworks came when Romney lit into President Obama’s reelection campaign.

“It’s demeaning. It’s disgusting,” Romney insisted at one point in the interview.

Earlier in the week, one of the president’s advisers, Stephanie Cutter, suggested Romney could be guilty of a “felony” due to the questions that have been raised about the SEC filings.

“Is that what’s really expected from the campaign of the sitting president of the United States,” Romney asked. “There’s no question but that his campaign is putting out information which is false and deceptive and dishonest. And they know it.”

Despite being one of the wealthiest presidential nominees in the modern era, Romney also stated he plans to release just two of his tax returns before the November election, the 2010 return already made public by his campaign, and his 2011 return. An estimate of that 2011 return has also been released.

“I know there will always be calls for more. People always want to get more. And you know, we’re putting out what is required plus more than that is not required,” Romney said.

Referring to the 2010 and 2011 returns, Romney could not be more clear about his plans. “And those are the two years that people are going to have. And that’s – that’s all that’s necessary for people to understand about my finances,” he added.

We asked Romney if he felt he was being “swift-boated,” a reference to the Republican attacks on Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry’s war record in 2004.

“Boy, I hadn’t heard that term but I’ll give it some thought,” Romney said initially to the question.

Several minutes later, unprompted by this reporter, Romney returned to that swift-boating theme.

“If people believe this should be a campaign about attacking one another on a personal basis and go back to the kinds of attacks that were suggested in some campaigns in the past, I don’t want to go there.”

The question is whether it’s too late for both campaigns to avoid going “there” now.

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Filed under: Bain Capital • Mitt Romney
soundoff (112 Responses)
  1. Republican Failure

    When all the problems in the US are due to economic disparity and inequality why would anyone bite for Mittens.  He represents the 1% and the extremem unregulated Capitalism that has got the US economy in trouble (apart from rampant military spending).Further deregulation in the stock markets and insurance and mortgage industry like the republicans preach ? So banks and brokers can continue to manipulate and control the stock market ?

    Vote for Obama who at least works for the majority of Americans Health care, improved international relations -all of these are due to Obama. 

    Until Republicans return their platform to purely fiscal conservatism rather than religious issues and catering to special interest groups on the far right (NRA etc) this party shouldn't be touched by voters. 

    The US is in need of some social measures as a move away from extreme capitalism.  A social safety net of health care and Care for the poor will help to alleviate the disparity between rich and poor and all the problems it creates such as crime.  

    I think we have learned that ultra capitalism ( with no social measures and checks and regulations) fails just like the other extreme-communism.  Only a mixture of capitalism and some social measures work.

    July 14, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  2. Eric

    Hu'um, whining about "attack ads" huh? Isn't that how he beat up his GOP challengers? Sound a tad hypocritical doesn't it?

    July 14, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  3. Grahame Rhodes

    When Dick Chaney left Halliburton he steered war profiteering contracts to Halliburton when he was Vice President.

    If you believe Romney did not steer contracts to Bain after 1999 then you really are stupid since that was a major source of his money. That's why he can say he wasn't in Bain with a straight face yet you know he used his influence in that direction.

    July 14, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  4. RightyTighty

    The way the left edits video these days (NBC) he has to repeat himself so when they try to take him out of context he is stll saying the same thing. The bias in the mainstream media has become so obvious at this point it is no longer valid.

    July 14, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  5. jane

    We learned he is a tax evader

    July 14, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  6. James

    “I had no role whatsoever in the management of Bain Capital after February of 1999.” Give me a break. What CEO in his/her right mind and who is in the process of sell his/her company at the highest price possible, leaves the management and fate to someone else?

    July 14, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  7. B.

    Vacillation and endless obfuscation concerning his status with Bain. Romney is very secretive about all aspects of his past that certainly does not invite trust.

    He will say anything to maintain his position but in the end it will not fly. Trust is the most important asset for a candidate, without it there is nothing.

    July 14, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. Anonymous

    This guy's a joke

    July 14, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  9. Darryl

    I learned Mitt Romney is not someone who needs to be POTUS because he said he will undue everything Pres.Obama has done to protect the people and get rid of the ACA.Give Walstreet Corporations more tax deductions and get rid of the watch-dogs on the banks ect. Who pays the National Debt down ? We do, the Middle Class and the Poor.So we get poorer and the Rich get Richer ? He doesn't have my vote at all, Never !

    July 14, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  10. erica

    What are u really hiding...u put yourself out there for the world to know who u are...

    July 14, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  11. Kay Robinson

    Ask Mitt Romney this: Did your bank accounts and Swiss blind trusts profit from the outsourcing practices and policies of Bain after 1999? Is this why you don't want to offer further IRS filings? Did you ever speak against such outsourcing practices? If you become president are you going to make similar statements in a poor economy that you were not actively managing the day to day operations when the economy first became bad?

    July 14, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  12. enuff

    Wow... a nerve has definately been touched.

    July 14, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
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