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. Marie MD

    Oh what a tangle web we weave when first we practice to deceive. In the bully bishop's daily life he can't remember what he said one minute to the other and now what job he had a few years ago?
    bain IS his business experience. He can't hide from it and he can't hide the fact that he fired American workers.

    July 13, 2012 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  2. 333maxwell

    *sigh*.. I get so tired of the talk about Staples.. like it is manna from heaven..

    Like we were all scrapping for ink and paper before the Walmart of the business world reared it's thankless head.

    You can't use a credit cad without giving them a phone number, when they give you the web address to contact them (their only contact) they insist you add a cell number first... small silly stuff, but who needs it.. I run down to the little cartridge shop and get a re-man for 12 bucks.. it cost me 29 at Staples..

    Some gift to the nation.. ever try and talk specs with their average service person on the floor? Oh my goodness.

    July 13, 2012 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Team Obama keep the pressure on. Don't let of this as I have a feeling that it is going to demonstrate Romney's character! It's his Willie Horton!

    July 13, 2012 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  4. David Wainwright

    Mitt Romney really screwed up tonight. By having interviews on five TV stations, he drew more attention to this controversy without resolving it. I find the Obama administrations attacks a bit harsh (i.e., felon or liar), but Romney needs to be much more transparent. He needs to release his tax return for the last 15 years.

    July 13, 2012 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  5. Tubby the Tuba Texas

    Team Obama keep up the pressure on this elitist! He LIES, and it will bring him down! It's his Willie Horton! Keep pushing. He if afraid to show what he is hiding because it goes to his character like this issue of when he quit Bain, and how he is responsible for the what happened when he says he was gone. I think his banker is in charge of his investments.

    July 13, 2012 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  6. Steve

    Come on Mitt! Be a man and show your long forms!

    July 13, 2012 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  7. Nanger

    That was a pathetic interview. No real tough questions at all.

    July 13, 2012 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  8. Dave

    King's CNN article cleared Romney. Ironically, Obama said when you have no record to run on, you attack people personally.

    July 13, 2012 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  9. We

    We learned that he doesn't like the health care plan that HE INVENTED!!!!!!!!!!

    July 13, 2012 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  10. incredulous

    Why doesn't Romney just clear all this up by releasing his tax returns?

    July 13, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  11. Name K

    So... he owned all of it and was the only listed corporate officer, but he had nothing to do with it? Legally, he was the only person who had anything to do with it. Possession alone is 90% of the law.

    July 13, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  12. Mikey

    These are serious questions and Romney can't dodge this by attacking the President. Also, if he thinks the public is going to be okay with him only releasing his 2010 and perhaps his 2011 tax returns, he has another thing coming. That would be the lowest level of disclosure by a candidate in decades. Since the period 1999 – 2002 is at issue, he should probably release returns all the way back to 1999 and put this whole issue to bed.

    July 13, 2012 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  13. T'sah From Virginia

    ►The question is whether it’s too late for both campaigns to avoid going “there” now.◄
    Romney fails to realize that he tortured ginGRINCH and the others every chance he got in order to win the nomination. If he wanted to have a clean campaign, he should have done that from day one. It was his own Republican buddies that started the fire and now, it'll keep burning to November!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!

    July 13, 2012 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  14. Mitt Romney - He`ll say Anything to Get Elected

    Mr. Romney has asked us to trust businesses operating under the "FREE ENTERPRISE SYSTEM" to be honest, honorable and do the right thing by people.

    But he now wants a pass on representations made by the Bain business to Federal Authorities at the Securities & Exchange Commission. I say that there must be accountability [criminal if neccessary] if Mr. "Corporations-are-People" hopes businesses will get the benefits of the doubt that he suggests.

    July 13, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  15. Donkey Party

    We learned the Willard Romney thinks (and hopes) people are stupid. Well, it goes without saying that his base and right-wingers in general are incredibly stupid, but does he really think he can lie to the rest of the country?

    July 13, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  16. Sam

    It was the same answer from network to network. They could have run the same footage... Is he taking a page from the President's notebook about TelePrompTers? I know that there is no law about a candidate releasing their tax reports, it's a "good faith" move. But at this point, it's the best "good faith" that Mr. Romney can do.

    July 13, 2012 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  17. springthecat

    Swift boat.. Who hasn't heard that term?

    July 13, 2012 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  18. apple pie

    LOL He "doesn't want to go there." Reaaaally? Ahh, poor baby. Get your head out, Mittens! The nation wants to, has to, go there!

    July 13, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  19. Spkup1

    If the news media people would just do their jobs they can get to the bottom of this. Anyone can do a time line of docs filed, statement given by Mitt to different people from different organizations that requested info like the state of Mass. to determine if he could run for state senate, financial statement forms when he ran for senate. why doesn't anybody take the time to check all of this out? I am tired of see supposedly journalist sit there and let guest spill there talking points never challenge anyone of their misleading statements. They let their guest sit there and just repeat the same thing over and over. I hear the same answer from republicans on different shows from different people. My god don't they have an opinion of there own? what the heck is patient centered solutions? why does'nt anyone ask them to elaborate . stop calling them journalist they are interviewers.

    July 13, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  20. llasheneika

    How does this man expect to lead our Country when he is whining about political attacks, the same kind he lays on Pres Obama everyday. Man up Mitt Phoney!

    July 13, 2012 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  21. Jack

    For Pete's sake....I am running for the office...

    July 13, 2012 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  22. Name bullock

    I think best mitten roomney need go see to lawyer against presdient obama about bain
    That is right
    God bless with roomney family

    July 13, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  23. Phil Thomas

    All you have to do is Google 1994 kennedy bain attack ad youtube to see he got taken to the woodshed on this and lost. Clearly he came up with a way to distance himself from the company & ran again this time distancing himself from Bain and he became Gov. Its simple Math, he had political aspirations but he wanted to keep making money and he set up a way to have the best of both worlds. It makes no sense the guy's name was on the letterhead, he got money. The worst part is the guy went on a 100 TV show's and insulted your intellect.

    July 13, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  24. Dorothy

    What we learned was. dont trust a word he say. he's running on he job record but we know now that was'nt true. Now he sayObama is lieing whata joke show me the job's .O that's right.he cant.

    July 13, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  25. d

    So because he says something over and over ...does that make it true? and wow 2 yrs of taxes he is amazing...kind of like the comment "i will tell you my plans for the country after i am voted in" would be real nice for the people of this country to be able to make an informed choice for our vote. shame isn't it.

    July 13, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
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