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. Name

    Romney is a total joke.....anyone that votes for his no answers campaign is a nut. He never states how he would add jobs and create a better economy.....just trust him to do it. Flip flops on every issue on camera and thinks we won't see or hear. Lacks any presidential quality....a farce.

    July 3, 2012 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  2. Larry L

    Has Donald Trump asked for Romney's tax returns? As I recall he was asking for the President's birth certificate long after it was published in every newspaper in the world.

    Republicans who believe Romney to be anything other than a fat-cat bought and paid for by other fat-cats are completely delusional. He's a spoiled preppy who flip-flops on every, single issue – showing no true convictions to anything but the lifestyle of the ultra-rich.

    July 3, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  3. krl

    Mitt romney is a desperate man who would say or do anything to get into office with is bipolar flip floppin indesisive thinking self will the real mitt romey please stand up

    July 3, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  4. FlotsamJetsam

    I am so surprised Mitt didn't dump his offshore accounts. It may not be illegal but it just plain looks bad for him. It just makes him look like a hypocrite

    July 3, 2012 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  5. misty

    Romney is greedy and clueless about the working person. He is arrogant and will bring this country down all while making millions. For himself. He will leave the country in shambles then walk away with that big head of his

    July 3, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  6. Common Sense

    Pathetic!!!"Obama campaign rails against Romney over foreign investments." How many jobs have this garnachy created for the last three and half years? nada! just talk talk and more talk!!

    July 3, 2012 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  7. Stu Nahan

    At least he didnt give half a billion taxpayer dollars to the anti christian muslim brotherhood in egypt among others. Sue the states for enforcing illegal invasion laws, TRAITOR , TREASON IS PUNISHABLE BY DEATH!

    July 3, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  8. Jerseygirl

    R-Money, you can run but you can't hide! People are beginning to smarten up, finally, and will see through your "Etching-Sketching" ways!

    July 3, 2012 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  9. lgny

    Romney's use of foreign banks is legal under US tax law.

    However... It smells when it's done by someone who aspires to be the leader of this nation.

    He has been running since around 2007. He has has 5+ years to repatriate his funds and make himself a "clean" candidate for the presidency. That he has not demonstrates his lack of understanding of how the president should be a model for the nation.

    July 3, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |

    Romnycare the clown made his money looting your pension funds and stripping companies of their equipment and sending your jobs to China and teaching other companies how to do it for a fee ,he still gets money from bain and was still calling the shots in 2003 .and probably owes tons of taxes .where are your tax returns you crook ????????

    July 3, 2012 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  11. stars

    Mitt is con man it want be long before we find out about all the ppl he ripped off.

    July 3, 2012 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  12. AJ

    Why was Romney hiding his money in the Cayman Island, and in Swiss bank accounts, wasn't the Bush tax cuts enough.

    July 3, 2012 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  13. luke,az

    Gov. Robme is the perfect candidate for the 1%. He's at best a mediocre manager and not presidential material.

    July 3, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  14. Mike from Calgary

    So what ... Romney (and his 5 tax shelters, I mean sons) looks great in that Cayman Island Tan eh!

    July 4, 2012 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  15. Jared

    Just another wealthy thief

    July 4, 2012 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  16. JoeArizona

    CONSERVATIVES = liars and flipfloppers, will say anything to get elected, their favorite toy is the Etch a Sketch, if elected will try to prove that government can't work while enriching themselves on your tax dollars, support wars and defense contractors but not our troops

    July 4, 2012 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  17. clephas

    I'm going to be blunt in my assessment of both sides here... while I think that Obama's pursuit of the issue of Romney's wealth and tax evasion is a great mudslinging strategy, I can't help but think that it is also something of a waste of time. Not that mudslinging isn't a legitimate political tool, but what we have seen so far in this election has been ridiculous. I would much rather see some honest and frank assessments of opponents' policies from both sides, as opposed to the blind hatred from so many GOP supporters and the equally bigoted contempt for those who vote conservative on some issues from the far left. While presidential elections are hardly known for their civil discourse – at least not in the last twenty years – it is still incredibly frustrating to see nothing but mudslinging and hardline rhetoric from both sides...

    July 4, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  18. Thomas

    That is the reason Romney is going to Israel .

    When you have big donors with overseas accounts and illegal transfers , you need to lobby for ones better intrests .

    Casino Jack Romney !

    July 4, 2012 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  19. BeverlyNC

    We should know what foreign investments Romney has, especially as it could relate to our foreign policy, relationships with Alllies and problem nations. Romney has a great deal of money hidden in foreign accounts with most seemingly in the Cayman Islands. While at Bain and even after he supposedly left Bain (but SEC records still show him on their Board as a Managing Partner with voting privileges), Bain made investments in companies directly in conflict with Republican "values" and with what Romney currently claims to believe for today. Bain owned a service provider company for abortion clinics from which they and Romney profited greatly (est. $75M). Romney has not been honest about his time with Bain nor has he released his tax returns to show from where his income comes. I don't trust him and he has given the People no reason to trust him on any issue. He has only shown us loyalty and dedication to corporations and their interests and absolutely none to We the People. Unbelieveably, he has said he will reveal his policies once he is elected President. Really? I don't vote for a person of questionable character and positions of shifting sand. I will stay with President Obama who is a proven leader with an outstanding success record both foreign and domestic. We know President Obama is a man of honor, character, integrity, and totally dedicated to the People and the recovery of jobs and our economy. He is the People's President and he is not bound to any corporation or to Wall St. His allegiance is to the nation, to the People, and to what is right and fair and moral. I stand with President Obama.

    July 4, 2012 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  20. Sirned

    So now we find out just why Romney wants to be the first president not to show us his tax returns. His daddy said anyone that doesn't release at least 10 years of taxes is hiding something. Oh daddy would be so disappointed in his Mitt. But with that said Romney invested in other countries and is hoarding his wealth for tax invasion in off shore accounts. What a great example for America. Send jobs overseas and hoard your profits in other countries until congress gets rid of all taxes for the rich.....To heck with this country. Just let roads, the military and social programs either not exsist or be paid for by the poor...Right? And let's not forget the new Romney also profited and was in charge of a company that dumped fetuses. I wonder how this company disposed of them.

    July 4, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  21. Getoverit

    Of course. Anything to divert our attention away from the important issues, like the ecomomy...

    July 4, 2012 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  22. RudyG

    To someone who doesn't understand how the economy works Romney's investments must be an enigma wrapped in a puzzle!
    Where are the jobs Mr. President?? The diversions will not work.
    What's next, Romney's eating habits?

    July 4, 2012 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  23. frag

    If Romney falls to 10 points or more before the convention, the Republicans may surprise us all and nominate someone else.

    July 4, 2012 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  24. tammyk tammy

    Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. Ecclesiastes 5:10. The Greedy Old Pigs will receive no votes from me.

    July 4, 2012 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  25. Morpunkt

    Team Obama is getting desperate. The more they try to slam Romney, the more it backfires on them.

    July 4, 2012 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
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