May 31st, 2012
01:27 PM ET
11 years ago

Romney makes surprise visit to Solyndra

Fremont, California (CNN) – In a tightly-guarded surprise campaign stop, Mitt Romney visited failed energy company Solyndra Thursday and invoked the building as a symbol of what he called President Obama's misuse of taxpayer dollars.

The visit - kept a secret by the campaign until shortly before the candidate and the press arrived at the site - offered a hulking visual to accompany Romney’s repeated criticism of Obama over the Solyndra scandal.

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Standing on a gritty embankment across the street from Solyndra’s edifice, Romney called the glass-fronted building the “Taj Mahal” of corporate headquarters and a symbol “gross waste” and accused the president of cronyism.

“This building, this half a billion-dollar taxpayer investment, represents a serious conflict of interest on the part of the president and his team,” Romney said. “It's also a symbol of how the president thinks about free enterprise. Free enterprise to the president means taking money from the taxpayers and giving it freely to his friends.”

The solar energy company based outside San Francisco went bankrupt less than two years after receiving a $535 million loan in 2009 from the Department of Energy.

The Thursday visit was kept a tight secret by the Romney campaign, which told reporters they needed to travel in a campaign bus to an undisclosed location.

A Romney adviser said the campaign had concealed the event location for fear the Obama administration would somehow prevent them from staging it.

During his news conference, Romney alluded to protests organized by Democratic activists that have disrupted several previous campaign events, and said his campaign had wanted to head off any efforts by his rivals to keep him from speaking.

“I think that there are people who don’t want to see this event occur, don’t want to have questions asked about this particular investment, don’t want to have people delve into the idea that the president took a half a billion dollars of taxpayer money and devoted it to an enterprise that was owned in large measure by his campaign contributors,” he said. “I think there are a number of people among the president’s team that don’t want that story to get out. We wanted to make sure it did.”

Obama administration officials have called the failed Solyndra loan a disappointing result in their ongoing support of innovative technology and have vowed to continue investing in clean energy.

“Over the course of this first term, we will have doubled the use of renewable energy in this country,” David Axelrod, Obama campaign senior adviser, said Thursday in an interview to air on CNN’s “John King, USA.”

He added Romney was simply using the Solyndra stop as a “diversion” from recent attacks against his corporate career in private equity

“One thing the president never did was buy a company, load it up with debt, bankrupt that company, and walk away with millions of dollars while the creditors and the workers were left holding an empty bag,” Axelrod said, taking a shot at Romney’s former firm, Bain Capital. “The president’s never done that.”

Romney's visit to Solyndra was the latest step in a continued push from Team Romney and Republicans to paint the president as harmful for job creation, which has used Solyndra as its central argument. The Republican National Committee released a video Thursday, which followed similar efforts from the Romney campaign and Crossroads GPS, an independent conservative group.

- Watch the full interview with Axelrod at 6 p.m. ET on CNN's "John King, USA"

Also see:

Obama campaign launches assault on Romney's Massachusetts record

Obama campaign releases third set of Spanish ads

Gonzales says Romney must make personal connection to Hispanics

Wisconsin guv up in third straight poll

Filed under: 2012 • Energy • Mitt Romney
soundoff (408 Responses)
  1. GI Joe

    By the way -- it's not the dems causing problems at his "meetings" -- it's the Ron Paul supporters.

    The dems are too busy working two jobs to be bothered with that rich old cultist.

    May 31, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. John B.

    You want failed policies and waste of taxpayer dollars Romney? VISIT CONGRESS!!!!

    May 31, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  3. tykl

    @ KeepItReal

    I want to post my post and then your post as it seems you might have been answering the wrong person/post. There is no connection.

    And I enjoyed your crazy outburst as well. Just remember, just because you use caps locks doesn't make something true. Feel free to pass that on to your friends as well.

    my original post:

    I'm loving seeing the Dems have a fit with all their cap locks and exclamation points.

    They also continue to show their ignorance about capitalism and the free market. Maybe they would be wise to listen to their own Cory Booker or Governor Deval Patrick.

    KeepItReal's response to ?????


    It never ceases to amaze me how a lack of education will make you say anything to get attention. No surprise you are a supporter of Willard as you adhere to any lie he and FAKE news tells you.

    May 31, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  4. Fran Sancisco

    Now I know why John Kerry lost the election in 2004: None of the Libs would vote for him because he’s rich. Right?? He’s richer than Romney!!!! Foolish argument by foolish people. Also, how in the hell can you idiots say Romney is not qualified because him and his sons didn't serve in the military? Is Obama hiding his military record too because I'm pretty sure he didn't serve. Am I saying too much at once for you Libs? Wow, pathetic.

    May 31, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  5. Doug

    @Nathan: It is crony Capitalism on the part of Obama. Obama is taking taxpayer money and investing YOUR money in ways that HE sees fit; in this case, a failing enterprise like Solyndra. In the free market, YOU are able to take YOUR money and invest it in ways that YOU see fit without the government telling YOU what to do with YOUR money. In respect to Bain and Solyndra, Romney was investing HIS money while Obama is investing YOUR money. See the difference? Apparently, Obama does not think that the American people are smart enough to handle their money on their own.

    May 31, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  6. Four and The Door

    Norma from Normal
    As a veteran of our military, I'd like Romney to host a news gathering next to one of our military bases and discuss why he fills he should hold the position as Commander-in-Chief of our military when he nor any of his FIVE sons did not serve in our country's military.
    I'm a veteran too, but as far as I can tell the military is an all-volunteer force right now. If a young man or woman has better choices, they should be able to do whatever they want. We have plenty of people whose best opportunity is to serve in the military. If they serve, great. If they don't, I hope they do well at whatever they choose.

    May 31, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  7. Gurgyl

    Bain capital is an idiot.

    May 31, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  8. Campaign Tailspin Begins Now

    Breathtakingly clear example of pointing out the speck in your neighbor's eye and ignoring the board in your own.

    May 31, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  9. The REAL Truth...

    @Mark from Louisiana – Why won't the media investigate why 80% of the DOE grants and loans went to people who made big contributions to obama's campaign?
    We should worry about that after you explain to us why is it that Louisiana receives far more $$ in Federal funding (under the Obama administration) than it puts into the Federal coffers... ??

    May 31, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  10. Harry

    @Bob Then I would assume you would agree corporate welfare, like the exxon breaks and the like, much like the solyndra breaks are a waste of taxpayer monies and free enterprise would then dictate how much gas will go for in a level playing field, maybe making sure the day traders get out of the oil game, you know run off the low life investors who screw the market ( and us) by placing orders they don't have the capitol to cover driving up prices. etc.

    May 31, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "A Romney adviser said the campaign had concealed the event location for fear the Obama administration would somehow prevent them from staging it."

    Translation: "We came up with this stunt at the last minute and needed some way to cover for the flakiness and imulsiveness of the whole affair, so we decided to demagogue conspiracy theories that Obama would abuse his power to prevent it."

    May 31, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  12. Cayman Islands

    So government using taxpayer money in what was at the time a really good opportunity to move a new industry forward, an effort undermined by the Chinese government dumping silicon on the world market dropping the price of silicon to 10% of what it was only a few months earlier, that is the best that mighty mitt can manage? And he is such a grade A industirla strength tool bag that he actually went to this company to do a bogus photo op lie fest? What a firt rate horses backside.

    May 31, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  13. Independent voter

    It seems like lot of you guys talking about having experience as a CEO or Business man make you more qualify to create Job as a President of the USA do not live in this country or ignore completely the backgrounds of our former Presidents. Please, Check the backgrounds of the former Presidents of the USA and you will understand if there is a strong correlation between President and CEO or Business man.

    Educate yourself voter!

    May 31, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  14. Chris

    That's rich. So, Romney isn't trying to take taxpayer money and give it to his buddies? What's happened to journalism?

    May 31, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  15. The REAL Truth...

    @"I like our math"... "sofar Obama's White House stay he added to the National debt another $4trillion.."
    LOL – let's factor into that the $3 TRILLION (yes, Obama ADDED it to the books) of that used to pay for the TWO ILLEGAL wars started on dubya's watch. PLEASE CHECK YOUR FACTS before SPOUTING !

    May 31, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "Still wonder why we are where we are after 3 1/2 years?"

    Nobody with a brain in their head wonders. we've been paying very close attention to the GOP/Teatrolls' behavior, obstruction, refusal to focus on jobs and the economy, lies about where the deficits and debt came from and continued attacks on Medicare and SS using the bad economy, debt and deficits as justification while they insist that the ultra-wealthy need more tax cuts and the military needs billions more dollars and, maybe, another elective recreational war for capitalist imperialism.

    May 31, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  17. Neecee

    ShowBoat ! Still no vote!

    May 31, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  18. Catherine

    So what's next? Obama making campaign stops at all the failed Bain Capital 'investments' where they sought and received tax breaks at taxpayers expense? Or shipped jobs overseas?

    May 31, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  19. g

    when mitts in town hide your pensions health care and job or they will end up in the cayman,islands

    May 31, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  20. ncmyk

    did mitt mention that bush approved the loan to solyndra? once again, something that bush started that obama kept going only to bite him in the butt.

    May 31, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  21. demrules

    If Solyndra is the only ace in the hole the GOP has, then they are more pathetic than some have realized. The fact of the matter is, most people don't even care what Romney is saying or doing- we just just like to watch him stand and say and do nothing. It's kind of like a puppet without it's ventriloquist...unless Romney's puppet masters are standing along side of him with their hands up his a–, then he really doesn't have anything to say and or do!

    May 31, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  22. George form Raleigh

    Mitt is such a jerk. How many companies did he saddle with debt before he bankrupted them to profit himself.

    May 31, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  23. honey badger

    honey badger says obama is doomed. honey badger says obama doesn't work for the 1%, maybe the 50% who don't pay taxes. honey badger's gonna eat yo face!

    May 31, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  24. Ex-GOP Con

    At least Solyndra tried to create jobs here at home. In the U.S.

    Rich Money and his 1% fatcats hoarded the wealth and shipped them overseas.

    Rich Money campaigning in front of Solyndra is just him and the 1% thumbing their noses at innovative companies who are trying to make a difference and create jobs here in the U.S. that Rich Money and his 1% FAILED to do with their tax savings.

    I might also wouldn't see President Obama going to Iraq and making a speech to say, "We didn't get the oil". Rich Money disgusts me in his utter arrogance and hubris.

    May 31, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  25. sugarpunk

    Sooooo loving this! I think it is funny looking at the posts from the obvious Dems. lol They keep bringing up Bain, but that was Romney's money not our tax money....Take back the checkbook from Odummer....Romney 2012

    May 31, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
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