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. ttim

    Mitt is a liar and he will walk over anyone who gets in the way of his money and White House.

    July 3, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  2. vic , nashville ,tn

    Where is our money ? in Swiss bank

    July 3, 2012 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  3. Lyle Burris

    So what if he does have foreign investments.When was the last time you bought something ,made in the USA.We all have foreign investments.

    July 3, 2012 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  4. Joseph

    We'll if we were to bring up the birther issue and associate with birthers as the GOP aptly chooses to do, The issue of income and taxes are very much fair game. I think Obama was made to go to lenghts to prove his citizens or lack there of. This would not be hard for the 'Magic UnderWear' to answer or to make available his fantastic record.

    July 3, 2012 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  5. Four and The Door

    The Romney Campaign should respond with a question even more directly important to taxpayers. How does Obama explain the $3 billion in aid to Pakistan in 2012 when they don't even let our military supply troops through their country?

    July 3, 2012 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  6. Bushper

    Mitt Romney is not a presidential material, he is crooked and very unpatriotic. Romney made his millions in America but desided to hide them in foreign bank accounts to avoid paying taxes.

    July 3, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  7. georgewashington

    Romney's tax attorney's know the revenue code better than the IRS. They'll never catch him.

    July 3, 2012 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  8. Tubby the Tuba Texas

    This guy Romney makes tax evaders look like traffice citations fines. Movie stars have gone to prison for not pay a million dollars to the IRS, but Romey has 30 million in his Cayman Accounts! Wow.

    July 3, 2012 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  9. jake

    do you trust mitt? I certainly do not. can you trust mitt? i certainly cannot. is mitt really presidential material? i certainly think not. what are you hiding mitt? oh i see....it's the truth. that will get you in the end mitt. you will never be president of the usa. you are not qualified. you are not trustworthy. you are a liar.

    July 3, 2012 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  10. A not-so-stupid former republican

    Romney is just a typical republican elitist. Totally out of touch with the real world!

    July 3, 2012 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  11. Donkey Party

    Typical yellow GOP politician, always playing the victim. Remarkably disgusting and incredibly pathetic. No wonder Willard Romney is so flexible on every issue, he has no spine.

    July 3, 2012 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  12. John the Historian

    How much does Willard have in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland ? Was Willard on Romneycare in Massachusetts ?

    July 3, 2012 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  13. American

    Romney..,Caymen Islands & Swiss bank accounts, instead of investing here in America. Where are Romney's tax return(s)?

    July 3, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  14. trex

    .....So Mitt thru Bain, buys a distressed company, borrows to the company limit, sells of the assets of the company,........THEN GIVES HIMSELF MILLIONS IN BONUSES, (average $94,000,000.00) AND THEN DECLARES THE COMPANY BANKRUPT. The company CLOSES, FIRES ALL THE EMPLOYEES, RENIGS ON ANY PENSIONS PROMISED, and moves on to the next victum, uh, company in distress. And finally, Mitt pays only 13.9% in FED TAXES , and didnt even put HIS MONEY AT ANY RISK.............SHAM.....THY NAME IS ROMNEY........................

    July 3, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  15. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens is getting his share of foreign money back from foreign entities who know he will help them more than Americans.

    July 3, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  16. ge

    the economy,s slowly coming back no thanks to the party of no[republicans],who can,t wait to get back to the easy money scams on wall street, banking and housing.romney =crash and burn .

    July 3, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  17. Hindsight 20/20

    This man can definitely relate to ordinary hard working and middle class citizens! I mean most people have Swiss bank accounts or money stashed somewhere overseas, right? Excuse me while I get my car out through its own elevator at one of my beach front homes.

    July 3, 2012 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  18. Ben

    Romney is bad for America. Romney outsourced American jobs, closed down our factories, keeps his money in foreign banks so as not to pay taxes. Now, he want to be president of the United States?
    Never! Romney's outsourcing is bad for America, his factories closing is bad for America, his tax eviction is bad for America. Yes, Romney's presidency will be bad for America.

    July 3, 2012 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  19. charles

    When the people find out they'll never vote for him. He's hidden so much money that likely he doesn't know where it all is. And he claims to know what the poor and middle class go through. His business experience is precisely what Rick Perry and other Republicans said was 'Vulture Capitalism'. Now they're turning a blind eye. Obama wasn't nor is he perfect but is much better a leader than Romney. Obama does care about people and never bullied anyone with long hair. In fact, never bullied anyone. Romney has never changed from bullying a long hair to bullying companies, raping them, albeit legally, who wants a guy like that leading the free world? If the Congress thinks Obama is so bad why did they not put forth one shred of legislation that tried to help the sick, poor and aged? That would have gotten Democratic support and passed through the house. Instead, all Romney and the Republicans have done has passed through the colon.

    July 3, 2012 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  20. shamter

    Well if we would have a flat tax of fiveteen percent like ginrich prmposed he would put all his money in American banks creating American jobs.

    July 3, 2012 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  21. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Romney in violation of tax evasion? NO DOUBT IN MY MIND!

    July 3, 2012 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  22. batjones

    Wait until the article comes out describing Romney's investments in China. Romney has been a proponent of a stronger Chinese dollar, which would increase the value of Chinese investments.

    July 3, 2012 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  23. bkgrandma

    There is no way a man earning 40+ million dollars a year can identify with the average American. Not many average Americans have Swiss bank accounts or money in banks in the Cayman Islands. He will only be concened with the 1% also known as the "super rich" so hopefully only that 1% will vote for him.

    July 3, 2012 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  24. Laughingoutloud

    Americans are addicted to hanging around the table of the 1%, hopefully waiting for a chance that, maybe, half eaten or unwanted left overs to fall from the table or be thrown to them. So the most desperate, turn a blind eye to the wicked, underhanded practices of the filthy rich. Stealing from their countrymen and stashing it, like Romney, they do it all in the name of the law. And we still vote for these people to lead us. Unbelievable!

    July 3, 2012 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  25. Namelib economist

    Weneed a president for all the people, not just the robber barrons of this century. Obama needs the eggs of a TEDDY ROOSEVELT.

    July 3, 2012 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
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