(CNN) – The suggestion this week from a top Obama campaign official that Mitt Romney may have committed a felony by listing himself as CEO of Bain Capital after leaving the firm was picked apart Sunday, with Republicans decrying the remark as the worst type of divisive politics and Obama's team urging its rivals to "stop whining."
Stephanie Cutter, Obama's deputy campaign manager, originally made the claim Thursday on a conference call.
"Either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony, or he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments," Cutter said, responding to a newspaper report that Romney was listed as Bain Capital's CEO after 1999, when he has repeatedly said he left the private equity firm.
The significance of Romney's date of departure centers on companies acquired by Bain that later shipped jobs overseas. Romney claims he left the company before those decisions were made, but Democrats point to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that indicate Romney was still listed as the firm's CEO.
Cutter's words drew a quick response from Obama's opponents, who said the suggestion that the presumptive GOP nominee had committed a felony was below the office of the presidency.
Romney himself said in an interview with CNN on Friday that the charge was "disgusting" and "demeaning," and called on Obama and his campaign to apologize.
Ed Gillespie, a senior adviser to Romney, echoed that sentiment on Sunday, saying on CNN the charges reflected a "say anything" stance adopted by the president's campaign.
"We now know that this president will say anything to keep this highest office in the land, even if it means demeaning the highest office in the land," Gillespie said.
And Kevin Madden, newly appointed to a more senior role on Romney's team, said on CBS that the felony suggestion was out of line.
"I think it is very troubling that the president would direct this campaign to label someone like Gov. Romney, who is a very good and honorable man, as a felon. That's very troubling," Madden said.
Cutter, sitting next to Madden on the CBS set, said she was not calling Romney a felon, but merely stating the Bain documents, if misrepresentative of his role at the company, would amount to a felony. She refused to apologize for the remark.
"He's not going to get an apology," Cutter said. "Just a few months ago in the primary Mitt Romney said to his opponents - who were crushing him at the time – 'stop whining.' And that's a good message for the Romney campaign. Instead of whining about what the Obama campaign is saying, just put the facts out there and let people decide rather than trying to hide them."
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who left his post as Obama's chief of staff in 2010 to run in the mayoral election, had similar advice for the Republican candidate.
"Give it up about Stephanie. Don't worry about that," Emanuel said on ABC. "What are you going to do when a China president says something about you? Stop whining. If you want to claim Bain Capital as your calling card for the White House, defend what happened to Bain Capital and what happened to those jobs that went overseas, those jobs that were actually cut and eliminated."
Romney is soft on crime if he thinks felonies are irrelevant.
Stop whining? It's not whining when the Assistant racist of the Obama central committee commits defamation
It is Sarben-Oxley baby! Romney signed the SEC filings that he agree with the content which mean he oversee the activities of the business. All GOP comments never address the issue, but blaiming the person who outed them.
Looks like the rethugs can dish it out but they can't take it. when Bush the Lesse stole the election and turned us into a third world banana republic, all we heard was 'get over it.' did the swiftboat veterans for 'truth' apologize for trashing John Kerry? give me a break. if Mittens RMoney can't take the heat, he better get out of the kitchen. do we really want a whiner-in-chief??? and for those delusional fools calling Obama a whiner because he dares to tell the truth about the rethugs throwing us under a bus to take back the White House, open your eyes to what the monsters you support have done to us!!! the recovery would be far more along if they had spent the last 3 years governing instead of trying to destroy a sitting president. in my book, that's treason.
Romney is used to the rules being written to his advantage. Romney is used to having things "all sewed up" for him before he even has to lift a finger. Romney is used to playing as dirty as he needs to for him to finish with all the chips – but keeping his right to deny he played dirty. The problem is that the President nailed him – publically bloodied his nose – exposing his Bain Stain and no one is willing to change the rules again to bail out Romney. He's done.
Auwww, what's a matter witto Mitty? The Dem's take a page out of Rove's play book and you can't take it??
Remember "Swift Boat" and the birth certificate?? Well back atchya!!
Is the "victim card" the only play the GOP has?
he wasn't whining when he held that kid down and assaulted him.
Someone should tell Flip Romney to stop LYING!!! He lies more than any politician in history and he lies about EVERYTHING!!
republicans have not refuted the fact that the mitt claims to have left bain in 1999 yet he signed sec documents drew a salary and said at tenting bain board meeting made him a mass resident so he could run for governor.
either he laid to the american public or he lied to the sec which is a felony.
come on republicans give us some facts dont say it is unfair to bring up the issue.
This needs to be answered. If it is jobs the Americans are crying for during this election, then Romney needs to be clear if his past activities created economic advantages overseas rather than the US. This makes a big difference to me as a voter.
If you or I misrepresented ourselves to the Federal Government we would be under the jail house by now. Maybe somebody forged his signature on the documents.
There is a big difference between whining and clarifying. When Obama lies about Romney, I expect him to defend himself. He did.
After years of listening to the GOP calling Obama a communist, a marxist, a Kenyan, unAmerican, not a citizen, a traitor, basically every lie known to man, now Mitt Romney is offended???? Cowboy up Mitzi. Presidential politics is hardball, and you don't seem to have a bat.
If Romney used negative commercials against his fellow republicans than he should be shot for thinking Obama wouldn't do the same to him. Romney is qualified to be a Mormon priest, other than that, he needs to stay away from our interests.
A lawyer talking to a business man. What you expect. As much as I like I need him to come clean on taxes and his engagement with that company. Americans want President who is honest and truthful.
Hmmmm....Mittens takes credit for what Bain did in 2000-2003 because he "created the culture" for those good acts, although he claims not to have been in charge. So, did he also create the culture that shipped jobs overseas? Oh no, he says he WASN'T in charge when THOSE decisions were made. Hey Mittens, you can't have it both ways. Stop your bragging/denying. You really are the ultimate flip flop.
In sports we love competition; whiners we dislike. While I would never run for political office, all is game. But the problem I have is exactly what the young lady stated, "did not Mitt pound his primary opponents." Now that he is getting some payback, he is thrown completetly off message on the defense. when a boxer hits hard the best defense is a counter-puncher. But just don't whine ...Please! by the way, Cutter, handled Madden extremely well. It appeared as if she was prepared and he wasn't. It is appearing also that the Romney camp is a step or two behind the Obama camp. I just love good competition.
Romney is trying to take the Whiner in Chief title away from Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. That is a tall order. The problem is he even whines on his flip flops. So every time he flips on a flop and flops on a flip he also whines. Whimps whine! Did you notice he was in the back seat of the jet ski and his wife was driving. Somehow, I think that is probably the norm for Mitt.
Hey, JM, the Republican party finds these buffoons exactly where the Democratic Party does, within their own ranks. They are all a bunch of losers. If you choose the Dems over the Republicans it's simply a matter of you hiding your head in the sand.
Let's make a deal Mitt. You release your tax returns from 1999-2010, and we'll stop calling you a felon. Agreed?
gotta love Romney...it was ok when he called in the b-52's to slime poor old Newt....ok to blatently falsely put words in Obama's mouth in an advertisement, and then remark...Hey, politics ain't bean bags.....can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen...
Awww poor Mitt Romney...a rich prep school jerk...with daddys money...and millions of dollars...cant take a punch
whaaaaa whaaaa whaaaa...what a spoiled little baby....go play on your yacht....while us working men make america work
Reptiles don't have thin skin ...Obama drove a wooden stake into the heart of this beast and it is badly wounded.
Ok, so maybe Bain was in the process of being sold for three years and Romney didn't have anything to do with what went on there during that time. That means he's neglectful and cavalier with the fate of the American worker. Good job, Romney. You're a great guy for that. Maybe even a felon.