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. Copper's Donut Shoppe

    and besides, the buffoon in the picture is not making a speech, he does not know how.
    he is reading what someone wrote on a paper for him

    May 31, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  2. tor5

    If Romney is so upset about $500 million to Solyndra, you’d think he’d really be fuming over the $50 BILLION the government spends to subsidize oil corporations EVERY YEAR. But no. Republicans throw a tizzy if anyone suggests we cut these subsidies back. Republicans are such epic hypocrites on this issue.

    May 31, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain

    @kayla: "why doesn't the stiff visit gm?"

    I couldn't agree more ... but then again, that would involve Mittens having integrity and courage, both of which he utterly lacks. Look no further than his flip-flopping and soul-selling to get the GOP nomination.

    Pretty pathetic!

    May 31, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  4. Mike in Texas

    Isn't part of investing the risk you take that not all investments pay off? Isn't that one of the arguments made by Mitts billionaire buddy? He said that you can't tax the investors too much because they wouldn't take the risks if their taxes were too high.

    Romney knows that there are millions of voters who aren't smart enough to do research and will believe anything he says because they hate the President; not for his political views but for his skin color and his funny name.

    Yes I am calling the race card. Those who try to argue that there aren't millions of people out there who can't stand a Black President need to pull their head out of the sand.

    Even when Obama takes the position that Republicans have held in the past: Individual Mandate, pay as you go, 3:1 spending cuts to tax increases, Republicans balk.

    Republicans are on record saying there job is to make Obama a one term President.
    Republicans are on record saying they can't pass Obama's job bill because it would be a victory for Obama.

    What does this tell you about Republicans. It tells me they would rather see America fail than see a Black President succeed just so they can gain back power.


    May 31, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  5. Willis

    Team Tabby Nackles Everything Sucks & Everything Blows 2012 Tour. He is a funny funny guy with his Hugs & Kisses wit Gretta & Let nat yer heart be twobled. Hi two ton treason Morris. hug hug, kiss kiss. Hi Karl, hug hug, kiss kiss

    May 31, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  6. Cheryl Jefferies

    Did you know: Planned Parenthood was caught on tape aiding a woman who was afraid she was carrying a girl baby. She didn't want a girl. So, Planned Parenthood in Texas helped her arrange an abortion to murder this baby girl.

    Well, it was a set-up. But, it's on tape. And, Congress is, right now, trying to pass a ban on Gender-Specific Abortions. Now, that wouldn't stop someone from lying about why they want an abortion. But, it's something. It's a moral stand against murder...and, murder committed because someone doesn't want a boy or a girl.

    And, we know that most of these Gender-Specific Abortions are done on GIRL babies. Talk about the REAL War on Women! There it is!

    But, yesterday, the White House danced around the issue. Obama hadn't "evolved" yet.

    Today, I guess he's finished evolving on this: he is AGAINST the ban on Gender-Specific Abortions. In plain language, he's FOR murder against a baby based on gender.

    Remember, this is also the man who supported infanticide (the murder of a living baby who was lucky enough or tough enough to survive a botched abortion) when he was a senator in Illinois.

    You know, I think I know now exactly where he was born: CHINA! They do that there, you know. Force abortions of girl babies. They also force abortions if you have more than one child, too. Guess he'll be in favor of THAT next!

    May 31, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  7. joe

    I guess now Obama has to stage an event in front of the Bain headquarters. Maybe with a vulture on a perch for special effects.

    May 31, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    @Chris: "Amazing... the hate on this story directed to Romney? Why? Dear Obama loving, protecting at any costs citizens.. your 4 year disaster is almost up!"

    Typical Repub, whining and crying when someone presents FACTS that dispute your version of reality.

    And if bin Laden dead and GM alive, not going into a Great Depression, 26 straight months of private sector job growth, meaningful health care reform that guarantees you don't get dropped when you get sick or give birth to a special needs child and on and on with all the other good President Obama has done for our country is your version of "disaster," then I say:


    Obama/Biden 2012

    May 31, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  9. KeepItReal

    Where are the closed down businesses you created Willard? We want to see those, also. We want to see where thousands of people lost their jobs so you could become richer and they become poorer. Tell us the TRUTH, Willard!

    May 31, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  10. tykl

    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.

    May 31, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain

    @Mike in Texas: "What does this tell you about Republicans. It tells me they would rather see America fail than see a Black President succeed just so they can gain back power."

    Yes, that's exactly what it says about Republicans. Their willingness to harm our country and her people in their quest to regain power is treasonous in my book. Just wish I could throw them all in jail!

    May 31, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  12. switters

    Slime...publicity stunt

    What we have come to expect from Rmoney and the Teapublicans.........

    May 31, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  13. ltinny

    If Mr. Romney is so knowledgeable and has such expertise in business, why does he not lay out suggestions to improve Solyndra? Oh, I forgot...he just criticizes and smears..he has no real ideas of his own...if he does..he is not sure what they are, it depends on which day it is. He is a buffoon.

    May 31, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  14. Mary

    Next headline news: Romney visits Bain.

    May 31, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  15. Willis

    Yo, Why does Every reporter keep sayin Bishop Romney saved the 02 Games. FACT, 1.482 BILLION from the US Treasury. Again, 1.482 BILLION, Willard didnt save them, The USA did. Mr personality is the largest EARMARK taker in History. Not a Washington Insider, PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 31, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  16. Michael Schmidt

    What an EPIC waste of MY money!

    May 31, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  17. wahela

    Besides, the Solyndra money was approved by bush, and only put into action by Obama.

    May 31, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  18. unfiltered

    obama's father is a black hero- 25 yr old man married w/ children and knocks a 17 yr old white ho up and flees town so her family can raise his son

    May 31, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  19. Willis

    Yo itinny, you know it. He Runs like a little girl when the REAL Press aproaches him. Mittens with his Dress.

    May 31, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. MaryM

    Next stop for Obama, ALL the companies Bain gutted when Mitt was CEO. Oh, anyone remember what happened to America with the last CEO in Chief? Thats what Bush used to brag about.

    May 31, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  21. luvtheUSA

    It is very interesting to read all the comments here. The Democrats have so much hate for Romney that they are not saying one word about the millions that were lost by Obama. The lose hurt Democrat, Independent, and Republican people in the US equally! So much money lost to pay off Democratic donors! It seems that the Democrats that are complaining here are only concerned about themselves. Shame on you Democrats for being shortsighted!!!

    May 31, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  22. Mary

    While he was there, he didn't forget to visit the wealthy neighborhood of Hillsborough.
    "Mitt Romney In Hillsborough: GOP Nominee's Expensive Bay Area Stop Raises Eyebrows"

    May 31, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  23. Dave in Arizona

    Bain invested in companies that went under. Misspending and poor performance by the recipient of investing is always a risk. Romney knows this and yet he criticizes the president for it. What a hypocrite.

    Also, when adjusted for inflation, the minimum total that oil companies have received over the past ~90 years is $133.8 billion dollars. Maybe Romney should make a speech outside their fancy headquarters. That averages to over twice the investment amount that Solyndra got on a yearly basis.

    May 31, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  24. Michael Schmidt


    I guess now Obama has to stage an event in front of the Bain headquarters. Maybe with a vulture on a perch for special effects.
    May 31, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |


    Well, it might be too difficult for some to understand but Obamao is being backed by Bain executives. That is like attacking Romney for putting a dog on the roof of his car only to later learn that Obamao chowed down on dog back home in Indonesia.

    May 31, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  25. Jason

    Maybe Obama can visit Bains victim industries like JB toys JK steel plant etc and then release it as Romneys Business record

    May 31, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
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