Obama campaign rails against Romney over foreign investments
July 3rd, 2012
06:25 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama campaign rails against Romney over foreign investments

(CNN) - The campaigns for Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama played ping pong with political jibes Tuesday over a news report detailing Romney's overseas investments and bank accounts.

Team Obama heavily pushed the article that appeared in the August issue of Vanity Fair, calling into question the lengths Romney went to in managing his finances and asking if the former private equity CEO was in violation of tax evasion.

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"Mitt Romney's economic philosophy has always put maximizing his profits above anything else," Ben LaBolt, the campaign's national press secretary, said in a statement. "Even if it means refusing to bet on America and its workers."

Romney's team was quick to fire back saying, "President Obama's attacks on Mitt Romney have been proven false time and again."

Romney's foreign investments have long been a matter of record, but the article investigates how the former Massachusetts governor carefully managed a large chunk of his finances.

"Romney, like the superhero who whirls and backflips unscathed through a web of laser beams while everyone else gets zapped, is certainly a remarkable financial acrobat," the report states. "But careful analysis of his financial and business affairs also reveals a man who, like some other Wall Street titans, seems comfortable striding into some fuzzy gray zones."

Those fuzzy gray zones, the report says, includes meticulously managed accounts in the Cayman Islands, investments in Bermuda and a Swiss Bank account - all considered tax havens where people can pay little or no taxes on certain sources of income.

According to Romney's tax returns, which he released in January after heavy pressure from critics, the millionaire earned $42.7 million in 2010 and 2011 and paid an effective tax rate of 14.5%, well below the 35% tax rate for high-income earners.

His low rate is attributed to the fact that his income almost entirely came from capital gains and dividends from an extensive portfolio of investments, which are typically taxed at just 15%. He also had considerable itemized deductions, which lowered his overall tax liability.

Romney's campaign has repeatedly maintained that he has paid his taxes in full and met all requirements.

But opponents use his wealth as a way to paint the candidate as out of touch with most of the country. Fellow Republican and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich launched the attack line against Romney ahead of the Florida Republican primary in January.

"I think you have to live in worlds of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and automatic $20-million-a-year income with no work to have some fantasy this far from reality," Gingrich said at a Miami forum hosted by Univision.

The Obama campaign used Gingrich's quote in a web video attacking Romney in early May and produced a television ad, as well, targeting Romney for the Swiss account. The ads were all a part of an ongoing, expansive offense against Romney over his corporate career at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he co-founded in 1984 and left in 1999.

The Vanity Fair article states that Romney still makes millions from the firm.

"The firm today has at least 138 funds organized in the Cayman Islands, and Romney himself has personal interests in at least 12, worth as much as $30 million, hidden behind controversial confidentiality disclaimers," the article said.

Obama's campaign, as well as a super PAC supportive of the president, pushed the storyline for much of Tuesday, arguing Romney should release further tax returns than the two-year's worth he has already put out.

"If he has nothing to hide, why doesn't he just release his tax returns?" LaBolt said.

Responding to the attacks over the Vanity Fair report, Romney's campaign said the president was attempting to "distract from his abysmal record."

"President Obama's attacks on Mitt Romney have been proven false time and again," said Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg. "As job growth slows, manufacturing activity stalls, and our economy continues to sputter, President Obama knows he can't make a legitimate argument for another term in office, so instead he is trying to tear down his opponent. This is just the latest example of President Obama and his political machine saying or doing anything to distract from his abysmal record over the last four years."

Not letting that stand, Obama's campaign said the Romney response failed to address "a single charge in the story."

"Non-answers have become par for the course for Romney's campaign, especially as it relates to his extremely opaque-and controversial-personal finances, including his use of offshore tax havens. All of which begs the question: just what is Mitt Romney hiding?" the campaign said in a statement.

- CNNMoney's Jeanne Sahadi and CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Harry From Pa

    What isn't he hiding, apparently he can't come out about anything and if he did, he either takes credit for it or denies it even though he has implemented it himself. I mean seriously how can the GOP back this guy at all with what he has done with Healthcare, to me saying well its not on a national stage is not a good enough answer.

    July 4, 2012 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  2. Michael Levon

    This republican is way out of touch! How in gods name does he even think he represents the WORKING american! I have faith in the american people NOT to support a person like this! My lord if he's elected bye bye middle class!

    July 4, 2012 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  3. tammyk tammy

    He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich – both will come to poverty. Proverbs 22:16. The so-called Christian GOTP needs to go back and read what the Bible states about their worship of the god called Money. Romney worships money above all else and could care less about the people in this country. President Obama through his actions, especially regarding healthcare, has shown that people come first. OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    July 4, 2012 03:21 am at 3:21 am |
  4. tammyk tammy

    To the American people, Romney and the GOP says, "Me first.me.me.me.me.me.me.me.me.me. Obama and the DNC say, "You first.you.you.you.you.you the American people.you. Think hard about who is looking out for you then vote in Nov.

    July 4, 2012 03:35 am at 3:35 am |
  5. Anonymous

    Obama is grabbing for straws! he has to tear down his opponent because his record is his downfall!

    July 4, 2012 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  6. kurt

    I think I'm with Mitt Romney on this. If I had a bunch of money and could legally avoid taxes by placing that wealth in certain accounts, I would. I mean, don't we all do the same thing with IRA's and 401k's?

    Good job, Mr. Romney, for managing your wealth intelligently. Our country needs that.

    July 4, 2012 03:47 am at 3:47 am |
  7. tammyk tammy

    Trickle down economics is hoping that the Greedy Old Pigs in their rush to snuffle up every bit of the slop will slosh some over the edge of the trough. MITT however scrapes up every last bit of spillage and sends it to his Swiss bank account, or the Caymans, or buys another unnecessary house or car, or buys yet another negative political ad. Yes, he's one of the biggest Greedy Old Pigs of all time.

    July 4, 2012 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
  8. Xpolitix

    During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He pioneered outsourcing in America. Now he wants to be president.

    July 4, 2012 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  9. Xpolitix

    The GOP wants to cut taxes for the ultra rich 1% and deregulate Wall Street to help stimulate job growth. Though we already did that under GW Bush. There is no guarantee it will create jobs. They still sent American jobs over seas anyway even after we cut taxes on the rich. This is called greed and more profit for the 1%. It is a well known fact that Wall Street preditors caused the housing bubble disaster because the government under GW Bush deregulated laws that opened up loop holes, allowing investors to dangerously gamble with derivatives in our housing market. They gambled on high risk loans. Then bubble burst next came the government bailouts that nobody wanted, but were VERY necessary to stop a major collapse into depression which is why both parties reluctantly passed it Congress. This is downright like socialism for the 1%!! But we were not given much of a choice on that.

    July 4, 2012 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  10. tammyk tammy

    With all the truffles that Mitt has to eat, you would think he could share some of the potato skins with the rest of us. Greedy Old Pig.

    July 4, 2012 04:06 am at 4:06 am |
  11. Craig M

    Obama is acting like a 2-year old child....many Americans both high income and Middle America have invenstments in froeign companies stocks.........Obama ever hear this was a global economy, heck he himself pushes that! The one major foreign investment that Barack Obama has is that he is pro-Islamist and bows to the King of Saudi Arabia.....and won't take his wife to visit the old fat King........wonder why???

    July 4, 2012 05:49 am at 5:49 am |
  12. Kearney

    Romney is one of these fat cat elitist republican
    millionaires who thinks he is entitled to be President.

    The man is no leader. He's spent a lifetime corporate
    raiding and hiding his money offshore to avoid

    July 4, 2012 06:03 am at 6:03 am |
  13. BO = failure

    Maybe the Obama whiners can tell us what Barry's done for the economy.

    July 4, 2012 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  14. escher7

    I stumbled upon Romney's statement of principle, from the bible of course:
    King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
    For whosoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever has not, from him shall be taken away even what he has. St. Mathews

    July 4, 2012 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  15. Gurgyl

    This guy for president? Yes, on obama12.

    July 4, 2012 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  16. James Klimaski

    Mitt Romney: "Invest in America. Who? Not me, I'm in it for the money." That's what his off shore investment strategy means,

    July 4, 2012 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
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