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. Sniffit

    "why do some people still thinks he is doing a good job to the country?"

    Some of us pay attention and go looking for facts instead of just searching for propaganda machines like Faux Noise, Red State and World Net Daily to retrieve affirmations for a conservative confirmation bias. That's why.

    May 31, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  2. Nuihc

    Mitt for ban your SS, medicare, idiot.
    I will allow that typos happen for everybody, but the lack of spelling and more frequently grammer, in the examples of the democratic base shown consistently by this poster, speaks volumes about the education level of the typical democratic voter. Granted there are some exceptions, a few obviously have a higher education.

    May 31, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  3. Jo Jo

    President Obama needs to go stand in front of the plant Romney riddled with debt and purposely caused hundreds of people to loose their jobs. What a stone looser!

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

    Just wait come 2014 when you realize Obama put you and your family on the hook for thousands of dollars in debt to his insurance company friends via Obamacare. If you dont buy insurance the IRS will take your tax refund or worse you will wind up owing them thousands of dollars!

    May 31, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  5. Karm99

    One of the charters of the DOE is to invest in new technology, like Solyndra.

    ISolyndra went out of business because the price of Silicon went way down and other (Chinese) companies had comparable and cheaper flat roof solar systems.

    What happened here is no comparison to what Romney and Bain would do during a leveraged buy out, theirs is intentional destruction and pillage of a company.

    The Republicans have one vision of energy – dirty fossil fuels. Their vision of energy along with their party will be left behind by the rest of the world that is embracing new technologies.

    Romney and his clan, are dinosaurs.

    May 31, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  6. Devon

    the old king tabby nackle of boston make me laugh. He a funny funny Man. Go to were your secret swiss bank accounts are. You have 0 chance of getting the middle class vote.

    May 31, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  7. Michael Schmidt

    Joe from Ohio

    Save a Billionaire.
    Vote Republican.


    Yes, 59% of voters are Republican. In fact, no millionaires or billionaires support Obamao.

    How about that Ohio education system! LOL

    May 31, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  8. Cody

    You got this Mitt!!! Finally we'll get a moralistic person in the white house and not some cocaine snortin' hippie from Chicago who's lied and cheated his way to the WH!

    May 31, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  9. jesse james. take them to street and shoot them like the dogs they are

    He went there to suck more life out of the company. Romney sucks

    May 31, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  10. Paqrat137

    What a cheap publicity stunt! If this is what this man is about – marketing and salesmanship he is like the last Republican President – all hat and no horse – Massachusetts style! Like none of his companies ever took federal funds, yeah, right!

    Ronmey for President – 2102 – for Amercia!

    May 31, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  11. Woman In California

    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.

    Obama was born in 1961. Therefore, BY ALL ACOUNTS – there would not have been a draft by the time he was 18 – can you understand that CONservative? Willard on the other hand FLED with his butler to France and SKIPPED OUT as usual passing on this legacy to his five good for nothing sons. He'll never be a hit with most military families and you can take that to the bank!

    May 31, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  12. Paqrat137

    Oh WT – the loads of debt was added when Obama put Bush's Wars 'on the books" – plus had to clean up the mess he was left with. Meanwhile the indicators are all on an upward trend...tell a big lie often enough, some people will believe it.

    May 31, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  13. ShawnDH

    I don't know a single person who cares about this, and it again highlights how out-of-touch Romney is with actual Americans. Also, Bush fast tracked the Solyndra loan to begin with, but don't tell desperate Republicans who are pretending to care about this non-issue. Big yawn, just like Romney.

    May 31, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  14. Witten

    Obama's version of Venture capitalism. Let the government fund all these high risk ventures. The only problem with that is it is not his money it is ours and they suck at it. I cannot believe people think this is okay. Obama is inept and narcissistic enough to think he knew what he was doing and we would have been better off if he had done nothing for 3.5 years.

    May 31, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  15. Jose Arribas

    Honestly, this is the best that the GOP can muster???? To call him an out-of-touch idiot is to be kind.

    May 31, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  16. Yonni

    I am sure everybody will be tired of his continuous gimmickries no strategies but tactics just as it was true for McCain 2008 campaign. This is a glimpse of how Romney thinks and acts as a president.

    May 31, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  17. g

    There they are again – the professional bloggers supporting the left's big government agenda. They are so easy to spot 🙂

    May 31, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  18. Tom in pa

    The devil can quote scripture to his own means... any one can find a failure. Any one can point and say "Look what went wrong! AFTER the fact. To say that supporting alternate enrgy sources is somehow evil is evil in itself. Particularly when the reason teh Solyndra failed had more to do with the Chinese than with the company or the President. Once again the Repubs gain leverage through fear.

    May 31, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  19. hoapres

    Who cares ??

    This nonelection is over. Obama is going to win in a landslide.

    May 31, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  20. independent

    The President should do the same thing, a photo op in front of every business Bain Capital closed or drove out of business with Debt, forcing thousands to lose their jobs.

    May 31, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  21. nevada39

    If you are a member of the rep or dem party, you are part of the problem. I am and always have been an independent.

    I am not happy with Obama, but Romney is not real. I want fiscal restraint and better healthcare with an option for low income workers.
    I am a gun owner and yet I do not belong to the NRA, they just lobby and invent crisis for profit.

    We need to explore different sources of energy, some will fail, but drilling is not the answer, grow up and stop pointing fingers.
    If you call fellow Americans traitors just because they disagree, YOU are the problem.

    May 31, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  22. Debra From Georgia

    There you go Romney, come up with a real plan instead of exploiting something that starting on Bush's watch.

    May 31, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  23. winky

    Just wait for the debates mittens will buckle and fold. He will not be able to hide

    May 31, 2012 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  24. GaryB

    My Dad spent 30+ years working in the defense industry, For every successful Stealth Bomber or Raven UAV drone, the government invests in dozens of other aircraft (and often dozens of other supporting companies) that never make it past the prototype stage. Some may say that this is horribly inefficient, but this is the way that the best ideas come to the top. And this is one area (like the battle for energy independence) where you can't rely solely on the free market, because are not enough private investors wiling to take the kind of risk that comes with true technical advancement. If Mitt Romney doesn't understand that, he's not fit to be president. If he does, well then he's just a dishonest, pandering politician.

    May 31, 2012 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  25. Just Askin'

    Mr. Romney, will you be attending the Bilderberg 2012 meeting in Chantilly, VA starting today? Just Askin'

    May 31, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
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