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. pkbkr

    Mittens, if you just had been honest in the first place you wouldn't be in such a state of DIShonesty or at least the appearance of such. What goes around comes around......can you say that all the ads put out by the Rs are truth about our President? Give us a break! Obama/Biden 2012

    July 14, 2012 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  2. Steve- Illinois

    Obama said "As President he's responsible for folks working for the federal government, and hat the buck stops here!"
    This after he invoked executive privilege to seal records in the case of a border patrol agent who died in the desert at the hand of illegals, supplied with guns by federal government employees! Instead of helping this man's family understand why their son is dead, it's more important to Obama to protect Holder!
    Biggest hypocrite in the country, and Romney should call him out on it!

    July 14, 2012 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  3. zanny

    Just because you say it over and over won't make it true. Your arrogance is showing, Mitt. You obviously cannot hear and see what these people keep finding about those years you were NOT at Bain. I guess it was your clone. You are a key figure in the practice of outsourcing American jobs and stomp and protest all you want. It is not going away. You are just making them dig deeper because they know you are not telling the truth. As for your tax returns, no doubt you have lots to hide there. Keep on and this will be a cake walk for President Obama. The issue is jobs but what support are you getting from your buddies in Congress – nothing because they will discuss anything but jobs.

    July 14, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  4. alphabatt1

    So far, I've learned nothing from Romney.......yawn.

    July 14, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  5. American

    Romney apparently think he's above everyone else who respectfully released multiple years of tax returns for disclosure.

    Many Americans do not trust what Romney is hiding.

    July 14, 2012 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  6. vic , nashville ,tn

    Republicans are withdrawing their support, Romney doesn’t think before he speak or choosing poor words

    “I don’t manage my money” Romney out of touch with ordinary Americans
    “99.5 % I invested in USA” Romney lied or super super rich

    We have more questions now

    July 14, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  7. JAKE

    This is just more Chicago-style politics from Obama. He needs to keep everyone distracted from his failings in governing the country. Romney should go on the offensive and say that he will release more tax records after Obama releases all of those records that he sealed when he became POTUS.

    July 14, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  8. Dee

    I wish the media would stop tap-dancing around the obvious...Mitt Romney lies! Every other word out of his mouth this election season has been suspect. Watch his face and body language during interviews, he always appears so uncomfortable...like he's constantly contemplating his next lie. I believe all politicians stretch the truth but Romney has set new standards for dishonesty!

    July 14, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  9. Puddin

    What is it that is said......."past behavior is a good example of future behavior." As I see it, Romney has no room to talk. His campaign attacks against Pres. Obama are a stretch.

    July 14, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  10. Bessy

    This man doesn't know what it means to tell the truth. He tells one lie after another and the sheep who follow him believe every lying word that comes out of his mouth. It really is too bad that the media will not call him the liar that he is.

    July 14, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  11. Q

    No 12 yrs of tax returns, No POTUS.........That simple

    July 14, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  12. stew

    The Sole Share Holder of Bain had no managerial responsibilities as he was sitting a top Park City with his arms open for the Snow fall as he is the Savior of the Salt Lake City Olympic's. Those out stretch arms had no control over all the people at Bain, wow you are a liar Mitt Romney and a tax evader a cheat. It just shows how much of the American public is brain dead for voting for the Snow Job Pretender.

    July 14, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  13. citizen9

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

    Right....he was simply the sole stockholder.

    July 14, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  14. incredulous

    Romney campaigns on his business experience at Bain Capital but whenver anyone brings up his record at Bain he accuses them of personal attacks. He can't have it both ways.

    July 14, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  15. KEN

    American Workers. No Comment. In an ABC interview, when asked about the Olympic uniforms being made in China, Mitt Romney said "I'm not going to weigh in on that". When he had the chance to stand up for America, American Workers and American products, Romney showed his true colors. Maybe when he was in charge of the Olympics our uniforms were also not made in the USA.

    July 14, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  16. Mark

    Really? This is what the liberal press has to work with?

    Obama has never had a real job in the private sector:)

    July 14, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  17. Seattle Sue

    If Romney would release more than one tax return, maybe the release of his returns would help to clear this up.

    July 14, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  18. ronb

    OK. Then, explain the 2002 official statements to Mass. about you being their to attend board meetings and being eligible to run for govenor of Mass. This is what happens when you tell so many lies with ease. The people in his family and friends must be starting to question the truthfulness of romney's statements. I mean, when he needed to be a part of Bain to run for govenor, he was. Now, that he needs to not be a part of bain to run for president, he wasn't. Even the children know you can't do both. If you were a member of Bain in 2002 for governor, then you were a member of bain in 2002 while running for president. Period. Take your medicine like a man and stop whining and lying to try to wiggle out of it. America's on to you!

    July 14, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  19. Samuel martinez

    THE ELECTION IS NOT GOING TO BE CLOSE!
    OBAMA 2012!!
    Most of America(besides those with ulterior motives for disliking Obama) sees right the a pompas, flip flopping conservative!

    July 14, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  20. Nietodarwin

    I thought he said he had "broad shoulders." ALL HIS OPPONENTS IN THE PRIMARY said he would have to answer for this. This is really sorry strategy for a politician. Politics is too rough for his pampered behind. If he doesn't release his tax forms, like every other candidate (and his dad), then he's doomed. If he does he's doomed. I'm in favor of Obama, and I'm glad to see him crash and burn, especially since if he could win we'd have a very unintelligent guy in charge. What a lousy staff he must have. This is like shooting fish in a barrel.

    July 14, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  21. ED FL

    Romney as always[except counting his money] will respond with if I said it i must have meant it.

    July 14, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  22. max

    He's a joke. Nice work GOP.

    July 14, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  23. Felt the Pain of Liars

    Having been the victim of a greedy private equity firm takeover, I would never ever vote for a candidate that had anything to do with that kind of sleaze business, no matter what party ticket they are on. When a PE bought our company they said, everyone's jobs were secure. They are really good at lying. Then about 2 years later I'm telecommuting to India every day for 2 months training 6 very nice indians how to do my job. Romney is a very good liar.

    July 14, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  24. Jules

    You know, Mitt. This could have been avoided if you had just named a new CEO when you left, but no, you had to be the sole owner, the CEO, the chairman of the board and the president of the company. And now we learn that you didn't leave, you took a leave of absence and intended to return and yet you would have us believe that you had no interest and no say in what the company did and invested in. This was your baby – you intended to return and yet you had no say and no interest. What the heck kind of a CEO were you anyway?

    July 14, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  25. Hammer

    More one-sided commentary that adds nothing. CNN, ever heard of an issue, and offering both sides?

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