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. i want a mega rich Mormon who hides money overseas, and a master tax evader as president

    Keep you're head up Obama! We got you're back!

    May 31, 2012 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  2. Marty, FL

    Hypocritical Romney is using Rovian projection again.

    While governor, Romney funneled the state's Emerging Tech Funds to his cronies at Acusphere and Spherics, Inc.
    (Boston Herald 12/1/11)

    May 31, 2012 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  3. MaryAnn in VA

    The chinese will gladly develop and sell us their clean energy technology and we will gladly set on our buttocks waiting on clean energy development from them and other countries. Wow are'nt we smart!

    May 31, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  4. MaryM

    If you really want to know how Mitt would be as a "leader/President" ask the good people of Massachusetts how Mitt did as governor of Massachusetts.

    May 31, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  5. DellStator

    The sad part is 99% of the people believe that Mitt is right. They don't consider that he'd be pointing out something he, his party, and the top of the income scale in America supports whole heartedly, gov't hand outs to business. Mitt's a rich guy, he's got all ten fingers into a hundred corporations out there that suck in gov't handouts like jet engines do air. Start with energy companies, that get hundreds of billions in subsidies to "find" oil, who receive leases with "mistakes" in them that cost tax payers hundreds of billions more, and to take the cake, the Atomic Energy Commission, or whatever they are called today, who have spent 1000 times more money supporting that industry, than the gov't has invested in ALL other "alternative" energy, like wind, solar, bio mass, bio diesel, etc, etc., ironically, for nothing, as we are not building new nuke plants, the few under construction are coming in at double budget or more, so actually the endless billions being poured down the black hole of nuke energy research, mostly how to make a safe nuke plant, is only supporting a few engineering firms, wanna bet they are defense contractors too? We'll skip the hundred of billions in payments to corporate farmers, ie, con agra, to not grow food, or the billions to ethanol producers to turn our food into high priced carbon intensive fuel, driving up gas prices AND food prices (major winner again, con agro and corporate farmers). All highly protected republican subsidies.

    May 31, 2012 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  6. fullclarity

    Methinks that Mitt lives in his own glass house.

    May 31, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  7. madkeyra

    Romney is a compulsive liar. He like to have it both ways. He came out touting his business experience, lying about how he created jobs when he was creating wealth for himself and his investors. HE HAS YET ANSWERED WHY HE LIED ABOUT HIS ROLE IN BAIN CAPITAL. He doesn't do many interviews, he lies to the press about where he's going, Romneys getting a whole lot of privileges already you would think he was the president. I would like to hear Romney explain why he lied to the public about creating jobs. I would also like to know why isn't he running on his record as governor? Now he infront of Solandra, Romney had wasted tax payers money his self as governor of M.A. that went to energy companies that bust. This guy is a liar and does not like to face realtiy. He has a thousand faces. Not to be trusted at all.

    May 31, 2012 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  8. Michael Q

    Brilliant Conservative deflection by a wanna-be. And, it's only going to get better because money will pay the bills to lie to the people to return the Republicans to power in the Senate and White House. Hey, they were successful in 2010 to capture the Congress and see how that has worked out for the good of America, or is that the new Amercia?

    May 31, 2012 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  9. Ron

    It certainly is a "horrible thing" using taxpayer dollars on taxpayers. And it is too bad that those 1,100 workers were not laid off 2 years sooner as Mitt would have liked. Because that $535 million that the Republican continue to cry about could have been spent in less than a week funding Bushes wars; "obviously" a much better use of tax dollars than providing jobs for AMERICANS. Yes, Mitt, the Bush years are sorely missed... those good, old days when the economy was humming right along, the missions were being accomplished, people were buying homes left and right, and there was no current or long-term debt obligations. Yes, those were the days.

    May 31, 2012 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  10. ron

    Poor GOPers. I told you the establishment was going to ram some romney down your throats and you were going to love it! How does it feel? LOL

    May 31, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  11. madkeyra

    The media coverage is already headed to a bust. Romeny cam out on his own, clear as day and lied to the American people about being a job creator. As the Ceo, I'm sure he know what his role in Bain capital was. "Wealth Creation", Up to this day Romney has not held a news conference, or held an interview to respond to his job creation record in public service. Its not fair because he is getting a pass. He need to come out and tell the American people what he did. He's been saying this for months and yet has that liar told the truth. Everyone else includeing other Republicans are saying creating jobs is not true. Why can't Romney?

    May 31, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  12. Independent Texan

    Big, broke gov`t accelerated exponentially under George II.

    May 31, 2012 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  13. Radgast

    The government makes loans and GRANTS well beyond the scope of this, not everyone believes in the purposefulness of such give aways, this was a gamble and the market shifted away from an otherwise great potential. For people who talk about the american free enterprise The interstate highway system, hydrodams, internet, sattlelites, all had risks that were tax payer funded and were no guarentee of a payout however the free markets opened up with the success of such ventures, some of the best companies in the US wouldnt exist without tax payers getting them going with contracts in industries such as aircraft, chemical and pharmceuticals, or even ENERGY, the US is funding drilling techniques for methane hydrates, should we pull the plug on that Mr Romney? As for cronisms, I dont agree and every single politician is guilty of it, those I don't see a strong case against the president himself here.

    May 31, 2012 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  14. GG

    There they are again – the professional bloggers supporting the right's big government agenda. They are so easy to spot. The three administrations with the largest increase in size and cost of the federal government? Nixon, Reagan, and Bush the younger. The last time any administration slashed the size and cost of the federal government? Clinton.

    May 31, 2012 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  15. Mitt Chick

    I pray that Romney wins. Some of you people just don't know when to quit. You want to make excuses as to why Obama did not do his job... truth is ,it does not matter why , So, just like any other job in the world ,if you don't do your jobl, then you get fired. Obama is arrogant ,and ignorant to the job at hand.

    May 31, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  16. joseph i aragon

    romney is an evil person. reagan is probably turning in his grave.

    May 31, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  17. hotairwarrior

    What a stupid way to prove you are a better canidate. I want to hear Romney talk about his vision of the future. Does he have one or is it back to the past with him? He did this gimmick with a bridge too. It gets old fast. Where are his creative ideas?

    May 31, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  18. Iamnotfooled

    Add up all the companies that Mitt closed and how much the government had to kick in to bailout those poor people who lost everything and it would add up to Solyndras amount or more. At least Obama was trying to create jobs and better lives, while Mitt was destroying jobs and screwing up lives. Big difference.

    May 31, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  19. hotairwarrior

    I guess Romney made the trip secret so he could talk to himself out there . He looks kind of stupid to me, talking to the wind.

    May 31, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  20. Eric

    Mitt Romney supports ethanol subsidies. So $500 million for Solyndra is "gross waste," but billions to giant (and very profitable) agri-businesses is a good idea? Let's not forget that Obama pulled our troops out of Iraq, while McCain wanted to stay in for 100 years or longer. Our Iraq military adventures costs a couple Solyndras every DAY.

    June 1, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  21. James A.

    Look at the length of that grass! Solyndra's landscaping crew should be fired.

    June 1, 2012 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  22. bob

    the people who ran Solyndra were people like you Willard. they took Govt. money and ran. Obama couldn't see that but i can. that;s why i wouldn't give you a cent. Voting you in will be the greatest mistake Americans can make. i can already see pre 2008 years if you were to come into power. considering the world economic situation today, Obama has done a pretty good job. Exactly what are your plans to create jobs in such an atmosphere?

    June 1, 2012 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  23. Observer91

    Um, who cares? Intelligent people know that this is just a gimmick. Why can't Romney just put forth a plan he wants to do instead of just criticizing the President? I don't mean plans that have been used before and have either failed or had mixed results/predictions, I mean a real plan. Since he isn't doing that he is telling me that voting for him would be a gamble. Why gamble on him when I can vote on someone who has actually put forth a better plan? Why gamble when the country is on a recovery (a slow recovery but still a recovery)? He promises that the recovery will be faster if he is elected, so why can't he convince me that what he's saying will happen? So far he hasn't done anything that will make me vote for him, but he still has until November to change my mind. To be honest, I don't see that happening.

    June 1, 2012 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  24. anonymoussource

    I think Romney could stand or point out one Obama mistake per day and be busy for the next ye. I'm still very ashamed I voted for obama in 2008

    June 1, 2012 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
  25. rnevellee

    Oh-ma-ma or Mittens is not a choice, it is an insult.

    June 1, 2012 04:12 am at 4:12 am |
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