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. Just curious

    what have Obama done that worked? why would Obama still get supported? why do some people still thinks he is doing a good job to the country?

    May 31, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  2. Gurgyl

    Mitt for ban your SS, medicare, idiot.

    May 31, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  3. Darryl

    China out sorced Solyndra but you don't hear Romney say that.The truth about romney is going to come out now and P.Obama will have no mercy on him.Romney was and still is a Wallstreet CEO and is out for big oil companys,big banks,and makeing profit for the wealthiest investors only. P.Obama is out for the people of this country and thats why Wallstreet, the banks and the big oils companys are all against him.Romney has the big money behind him but the people are behind Obama.The majority of the people will vote for Obama and he will be er-elected.

    May 31, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  4. CBR

    A publicity stunt will not get me to vote for Romney. As Governor of MA he really only served for 2 years, By year three he was running for President leaving the LT. Gov. to run the state. When she ran for Gov. he was not there to support her.

    May 31, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    It seems like Mitt has the same gang of stooges that ran McCain's campaign!

    May 31, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  6. Joe from Ohio

    Save a Billionaire.
    Vote Republican.

    May 31, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  7. Bootstomper

    Romney and republicans are cowards.

    May 31, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  8. RomneyTrustFund

    You'd have to be a simple kind of man to think Romney is your answer. Dumb it down for the conservatives.

    Romney 2012, right, all you Slingblades out there?

    May 31, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  9. Charles

    Anyone who does not agree with mit on this regardless of being a R or D is a moron. Every cent that is wasted its coming from your pocket.

    May 31, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  10. Nuihc

    @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... ??
    More apples to oranges comparisons from the left.

    May 31, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  11. NJBob

    So which organ grinder did Mitt Romney, the GOP's latest dancing monkey, take his cues from? Rush Limbaugh or Grover Norquist?

    May 31, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  12. Nuihc

    "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.
    Entertaining how the left plays fast and loose with the fact.

    May 31, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  13. Rick from florida

    If you ask me. US got them self a a major manufactor on the cheap. What e
    Ole Mitt and the rest of his of his rethugs fail to realize is Sylundra filed Bankruptcy...but its still on the hook for the loan plus interest. Thats a page right out Bain Capital 101.

    May 31, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  14. WT

    What Obama did do is give his friends loans and load the American people up wth debt that will never be repaid Mr. Axlerod.

    May 31, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  15. Christine

    Just curious – ask anyone who works for GM.

    May 31, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  16. Blue

    This company will come back. It takes time for people to understand the importance of a green company. Bush started this company. But the difference is that Preidnt Obama did not make one dime off of this investment. This just shows how sneeky Mitt and his followers are. Presidetn Obama would never stoop this low. When one has to travel in the dark of the night, they are nothing short of being criminals that would do anything to try and destroy this country and our President. Mitt you just shown your true colors. dumb, stupid and power crazy.

    May 31, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  17. Rick from florida

    Btw China subsidised a like manufacture with over a billion dollars. How do you compete with that. If it werent for the ole horse and buggy crowd on the other si

    May 31, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  18. tosser

    Ron Paul 2012. I mean, honestly. Hasn't everybody had enough of this crap?

    May 31, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  19. A Kickin' Donkey

    To "Just Curious":

    Mr. Obama has produced 28 months or so a straight job growth. I'd say that's something he's done. George Bush left us with man months of job losses and Mitt Romney was 3rd from the bottom in job creation as Governor on a smaller scale in Massachusetts. Romney has lied/exagerated that HE CREATED 100,000 jobs at Bain .... numbers which he REFUSES to substantiate or provide line by line details & a timeline for. Private Equity cares nothing about employing people. It cares about profits only and NOT People.

    Now who does the thinking person vote for?

    We need someone closer to a business person that has run a large non-profit organization like the Red Cross or the United Way to run for president, not a VULTURE CAPITALIST. In that regard, the "community organizer" is better suited than Gordon Gekko.

    May 31, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  20. Mac

    All of these farcical comments from deluded lefties are extraordinarily entertaining. First of all, most of the comments are poorly written, and indicate a serious lack of basic education. Second, and most important, before you say things like, "Romney has all the money", go acquaint yourself with the facts. Obama has almost ten times the amount of cash in his commie war chest than Romney has for his campaign. With lackeys like George Clooney charging $40,000.00 per plate for a fundraiser, how can anyone claim Obama is "for the people"? Obama is a lying, manipulating, dishonest elitist, who fooled you into thinking he was on the side of the common man.

    I like the "Save a billionaire. Vote Republican" comment, though. However, it should read "Save a billionaire, vote Democrat" since George Soros, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet are all billionaires, and they're all solidly backing Obama.

    May 31, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  21. John

    I seriously question how many people are truly independent and would really vote for a candidate based on his track record or the real issues. So many people (including most of the people commenting on this site) will vote the same way no matter what happens. It is truly sad that America is so hopelessly divided and dead locked.
    We will never solve any real problems this way and I just don't see it changing ever.

    May 31, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  22. Yawn

    Does he think he can beat this dead horse of an issue all the way to the WH? what a loser!

    May 31, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  23. Paulie

    Hate to say it but Romney is right. Wait until 2014 when you realize Obama took money from YOU and YOUR FAMILY to give to his insurance company friends. If you dont buy health insurance you will have to pay a fine which means you either get no tax refund or will wind up potentially owing the IRS thousands of dollars.

    May 31, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  24. Ivan Bial

    another reason not to vote for Mitt

    May 31, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  25. Paul Price

    To Nuihc:

    "Entertaining how the left plays fast and loose with the fact."

    If it is a FACT, as you claim, what is your problem with it?

    May 31, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
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