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. PutAmericaFirst.NotPolitics.

    Mr. Presiden,

    I thought you said we should move forward and that we are moving forward as a people. Here is a perfect example, once again, of you going backwards and your attempt to distract us from hearing your plans to make this country move forward economically and ideologically - look around, the economy is still doing terrible throughout the country. We need solutions. We need a need better ideas to move this country forward, but your time is running out. No more distractions. No more excuses please. We NEED to move forward while focusing on the REAL issues. Not this.

    Sincerely.

    A devoted US Citizen.

    July 14, 2012 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  2. JT

    Mitt just does not seem to be a very sincere individual. I'm certain he is use to being the boss and not answering to anyboby. You would think 5 son maybe one would have served in the U.S. Military.

    July 14, 2012 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  3. carrotroot

    If Romney was the legal owner of Bain up until 2002 then he's responsible for whatever happened up until he was no-longer the legal owner. It's the equivalent of me being the legal owner of a car, if I lend my car to my yahoo cousin and he wreaks it - guess what I'll be the one legally responsible for paying the damages.

    July 14, 2012 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  4. Lando

    Lie and lie and lie....hide...hide...hide...that's Romney's forte....

    July 14, 2012 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  5. G Smith

    FACT: Romney has provided less personal financial information than ANY other Presidential candidate in 30 years.
    FACT: When Romney was being vetted by John McCain as a possible VP candidate he provided over 20 plus years of financial information.
    OPINION: It would be irresponsible of anyone to vote for this guy without him being publicly and fully vetted...He want to be the POTUS for God sake.

    July 14, 2012 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  6. Squigman

    Lying, is second nature to a republican? You don't have to be wealthy to succeed in politics, but it sure helps? That being against working families, but proclaiming the opposite, will fool many? That Archie Comics, are missing a central figure to the next plot meaning to satisfy those with small mental capacity? That no lie is too big, or small if it leads to personal success? The list could go on for hours. The above is just a small sample.

    July 14, 2012 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  7. Anthony

    Romney's words are at odds with what the Boston Globe reported on July 14:

    "On the day after Romney took over the Winter Olympics, the Boston Herald reported that 'Romney said he will stay on as a part-timer with Bain, providing input on investment and key personnel decisions.'

    On July 19, 1999, a news release about the resignation of two Bain Capital managing directors describes Romney as CEO and 'currently on a part-time leave of absence to head the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee.'

    Romney is quoted in the release from Regan Communications of Boston as saying, 'While we will miss them, we wish them well and look forward to working with them as they build their firm,' language that suggests he was still involved in Bain personnel matters.

    A Harvard Business School bulletin from October 1999 reported that 'Romney is currently on leave as CEO of Bain Capital' and not that he had 'retired' from Bain. In a November 2000 interview with the Globe, Romney’s wife, Ann, said he had been forced to lessen, but not end entirely, his involvement with Bain Capital."

    Of course, this is not the first time that Romney's words are not consistent with his record.

    July 14, 2012 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  8. georgewashington

    When one is in a hole the prudent thing to do is stop digging. For all the business smarts Romney is supposed to have, he is being quite lame in his handling of the income tax issue.

    July 14, 2012 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  9. Anonymous

    What we learned from Mitt is that there is one set of rules for the wealthy and another for the rest of us. President Obama is one of us because he made his money from his book and not from ripping off companies.

    July 14, 2012 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  10. Dan Slaby

    What we learned from Mitt Romney is that there is one set of rules for the connected wealthy, and another for the rest of us. President Obama is one of us because he made his money from his book and not from ripping off companies through vulture capitalism.

    July 14, 2012 03:19 am at 3:19 am |
  11. Dan Slaby

    Like most CEOs who make big bucks, but deny culpability about their questionable actions, Mitt made a lot of money from Bane, but claims he never was involved in its management. Why do people look the other way about CEOs who deny their record? Mitt: the etch-a-sketch candidate whose only answer is "Not me."

    Do we want to elect a "Not me" president?

    July 14, 2012 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
  12. Elias

    It is very sad that President Obama and his re-election committee can not have the decentcy to run a campaign on their own merits. Instead of stooping to lies to detract the American people from fact and truth. Mr. President were is your courage and integrity? It appears you and your re-election staff are desperate and are out of touch with the American people in our ability to judge character. Shame on you Mr. President.
    ELIAS

    July 14, 2012 04:08 am at 4:08 am |
  13. indie52

    Why won't Willard show his tax returns what's he hiding? I smell a rat.

    July 14, 2012 04:17 am at 4:17 am |
  14. Realitybites

    This guy is a total joke. I haven't seen a more unqualified person for President in my 42 years of life.

    July 14, 2012 04:25 am at 4:25 am |
  15. s

    finally america ill know what we know about romney!!! as MASS residents

    July 14, 2012 04:41 am at 4:41 am |
  16. 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. dangit

    July 14, 2012 05:15 am at 5:15 am |
  17. Emma in Baltimore

    It doesn't seem reasonable the Romney refuses to release anymore of his tax returns. How can we be sure that he is being thoroughly vetted if he withholds information from us?

    July 14, 2012 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  18. clarke

    Mitt. on tax returns, "two years is all people will get, That is that" Maybe if it was a birth certificate, over and over again, it might be different. The money Mitt has spent on Negative ads IMO, if you are going to dish it out, then you must be able to take it as well.. He is like pinning jello to a wall.

    July 14, 2012 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  19. Mike Waszowski

    Romney's cut from the same cloth as Spiro Agnew.
    Stay awake in history class, kids. This stuff really is important!

    July 14, 2012 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  20. cindy

    Something sure seems fishy in the Romney camp. Just by his stern refusal not to release any information on his taxes before 2010 makes it sound like he has something to hide. I hope the american people can see through his ruse. He is running for the highest office in the free world. He should lead by example. I feel the democrats should continue to investigate.

    July 14, 2012 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  21. Zechariah 14

    I am very proud of the president of the unitedstates of America. He has my blessing

    July 14, 2012 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  22. 4merRepubCT

    Romney wants to hold Obama [CEO of the USA] responsible for everything that happens in the counttry, whether Obama has any direct culpabillity or not. The President is always ultimately responsible.

    Romney doesn't want to be held responsible for anything that happened at Bain after 1999. He says he did not have any direct involvement. He was only the sole proprietor, CEO, and chairman of the board.

    Just another case of "yes, it's the same thing, but not when you apply it to me". Sounds like the Massachusetts healthcare mandate "penalty" is not a "tax".

    That flip-flopping sound you hear is Romney's head spinning.

    July 14, 2012 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  23. Candy Taylor

    Could it be his past returns will show he WAS involved in Bain after 99? If they show he was getting paid by Bain then I believe it would prove he is a liar and possibly guilty of a felony! Why else wouldn't he just release the returns and be done with it?

    July 14, 2012 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  24. Slightly Left of Center

    Romney: “It’s demeaning. It’s disgusting.” "I want to be POTUS. How dare people question me? How dare they?"
    John Q. Public: "You're suspect!!"

    July 14, 2012 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  25. Steven Colo

    By lying blatantly and repeatedly, Mitt is trying to show he's qualified to be President. He still falls short in the other requirements.

    July 14, 2012 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
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