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. oh ooooo! Oooops!

    REAL service men go beyond and above the call of duty. If elected, he will be asking American service men and women, citizens and public officials to go above and beyond the call of duty to serve America. He OUGHT to set the example and go above and beyond what is neccessary and release more than 2 yrs of tax returns. It is a matter of integrity and morality. It is a matter of valor not cawardice. Show them you are a good and honest man Romney.

    July 13, 2012 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  2. dan s

    It is kind of funny that mitt is complaining about what obama is doing after the way he went after the other canidates during the primary.

    July 13, 2012 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  3. Zechariah 14

    the former governor Romney shall not win

    July 13, 2012 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  4. Larry

    Which side started with the personal attacks – Birthers... Don't dish it out if you can't take it Rommi. By the way, those tax returns you won't release, most of us already know what's in them. Stuff you don't want us to see.

    July 13, 2012 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  5. Armando

    You can't hide your finances in safe taxe heaven only to expect leaving on my taxes as president. YOU CAN'T TRUST MITT ROMNEY.

    July 13, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  6. thatguy

    I am so sick of "what we learned" quit trying to give me my opinion. If I want an opinion I will go to the opinion section.

    July 13, 2012 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  7. luke,az

    Gov Robme is not made of presidential material. He needs to go back to Bane Capital. Look up the definition of "bane", this spelling fits Robme to a tee.

    July 13, 2012 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  8. Manny

    A taste of their own medicine... Priceless!

    July 13, 2012 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  9. Ant

    But Mitt did it couple months ago

    July 13, 2012 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  10. John N Florida

    That's not what he certified to MA when he wanted to run for Governor. Either he lied to MA or he's lying now.
    Etch-A-Sketch is at it again.

    July 13, 2012 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  11. Harry From Pa

    So how do they think Obama felt when they tried to accuse him of not being American.....

    July 13, 2012 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  12. MikeH

    We "learned" nothing from Willard Romney. If he's telling more bald-faced lies, and he likely is, that isn't called "learning", it's called "deceiving". Hopefully CNN doesn't drink too much of the kool-aid Romney is offering.

    July 13, 2012 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  13. lies from obama(and mabye his father)

    If Obama wants to prove he is a man, he should run on any positive parts of his reccord he can find. By creating irrelevent lies about his opponent, Obama is showing a souring lack of courage and responibility.

    July 13, 2012 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  14. Republican grandma

    What a pity! He plays a victim now. He forgot what he did to Gingrich and Santorum during primary.

    Mr. Mitt "PINOKIO" Romney is a victim of Obama campaign? That's a big joke.

    He lies and that's what he knows best!!

    July 13, 2012 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  15. Parrying Diddlers

    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.

    This is gotta be a joke. He never heard of swift boating ??

    July 13, 2012 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  16. Wake up people

    Yep, he's hiding something.......

    July 13, 2012 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  17. Myviewis

    You guys are really not out in the streets, in the real world because you really have no idea that people in my office building, my neighbors and people at the grocery tonight were talking about jobs, the bad economy and what is going to happen if things don't change. Honestly, you guys need to get out of your elite CNN world and talk to people and people don't care about Bain and outsourcing of jobs. Outsourcing has been around for years and if Bush could deal with it in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and Bill Clinton could deal with it for 2 terms then there is no reason Obama couldn't deal with. Obama just can't handle the job, he is not qualified, has no experience for it nor the academics and he is just out of excuses, reasons for the mess we are in.

    July 13, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  18. OrlandoGuy

    These interviews were a straight train wreck for Romney. He is obviously lying and he comes off that way. The Americna people are not fools and they know a weasel when they see one. And he refuses to release more tax returns? Obviously there is something there he doesn't wnat us to see.

    July 13, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  19. Brian Dodge

    His 2000 & 2001 tax returns would show conclusively whether he was still working for & getting paid by Bain, right?

    July 14, 2012 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  20. Name

    In the words of Ricky Ricardo you have some splaining to do!

    July 14, 2012 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  21. Cody from UT

    Obviously the truth hurts and Romney has a lot to hide.

    July 14, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  22. Kenny K

    This is not hearsay; there are evidence of discrepancies in what he said, file with MA govt, and what is on SEC record. That could be perjury.

    Romney has directly called Obama and his administration nasty words so many times, and now he is whining about what President Obama did not say.

    July 14, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  23. Four and The Door

    “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.”
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________
    Mitt Romney will win on the issues that are important to American voters and Barack Obama will lose on the same. So let Obama/ Biden spend $1 billion on personal attacks in their pathetic attempt to downgrade the election process. America deserves better than that.

    July 14, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  24. mambert

    Romney is a man without concern about truth of false. For him to be false is the same of to be true, he learned from the Mormon doctrine, he is an expert in that field, that is why he is a very successful business man.But his experience does not fix the criteria for him to be President of the USA. We prefere Obama because is better human being, a man already compromised with regular Americans

    July 14, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  25. Jerry from Dallas

    Here we go again with a Presidential candidate telling lies in broad daylight! His signature and minutes of various board meetings he held at Bain Capital between Feb 1999 all the way to 2002 are public. People who attended these meetings are giving interviews that indeed Romney attended and was the CEO. Soon dated pictures will show up. Is Romney another Josef Goebel to believe that a repeated lie becomes the truth?
    We Republicans gotta accept that Romney is a toast! LET IT BE A FELONY IF THAT IS THE TRUTH.

    July 14, 2012 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
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