July 13th, 2012
06:02 PM ET
10 years ago

Acosta interview: Romney's spirited Bain rebuttal

(CNN) - Following a week of some of the sharpest attacks yet on his management of the financial firm Bain Capital, Mitt Romney offered a vocal defense Friday of his tenure there and strongly disputed reports he left the firm years later than he has previously said.

"There's nothing wrong with being associated with Bain Capital, of course," Romney said in an interview with CNN's Jim Acosta. "But the truth is that I left any role at Bain Capital in February of 1999."

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The Democratic criticisms, combined with a series of recent news articles looking into what is and isn't known of Romney's complicated financial portfolio, are simply "an effort on the part of the president's campaign to divert attention from the fact that the president has been a failure when it comes to reigniting the American economy," Romney said of President Barack Obama.

Romney stopped short of saying Obama's campaign was lying in recent ads hitting at his Bain tenure. Democrats have charged that Bain - under Romney and after - profited when companies owned by Bain closed and when jobs were outsourced overseas.

Obama's campaign, he said, is "putting out information which is false and deceptive and dishonest" in their advertisements.

Related: Why is 1999 so important to 2012?

Financial documents filed with the Security and Exchange Commission, including some obtained and reviewed by CNN, list Romney in various capacities with Bain after what Romney has repeatedly said was his February 1999 departure from the firm. That month, he took the reins of the Salt Lake City Olympic games and "relinquished all management authority and role in Bain Capital," he said in the interview.

Democrats, however, have pointed to the fact that his name appears on Bain Capital financial documents until 2002 as evidence Romney did not actually leave the firm. In 2002, Romney signed a retirement package with the firm and was no longer an owner of the company.

Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter charged in a conference call with reporters this week that Romney "through his own words and his own signature was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony," or was otherwise "misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments."

Presented with Cutter's felony suggestion, Romney asked if that is "really what's expected from the campaign of the sitting president of the United States?"

"Is this the level that the Obama campaign is willing to stoop to? Is this up to the standards expected of the presidency of the United States?" he asked. "It's disgusting, it's demeaning it's something which I think the president should take responsibility for and stop."

In the interview, Romney also lent greater clarity to his intentions surrounding release of his tax returns. In January, Romney released his 2010 return and an estimate of his 2011 tax year liability.

Related: Romney team defiant in response to Bain attack

"The law requires us to put out a full financial disclosure and that I've done," he said, adding that the most recent year will be released "as soon as the accountants have that ready.

"And that's what we're going to put out," he said. "People always want to get more and we're putting out what is required plus more that is not required. And those are the two years that people are going to have and that's all that's necessary for people to understand something about my finances."

Also see:

Reid: Romney couldn't be confirmed as dog catcher

McDonnell furiously defends Romney from Obama salvo

Biden to Romney: 'Show your papers'

RNC backing Romney with $5 million ad buy

Barbour: If in Romney’s position, I would release tax docs

Watch The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer weekdays at 4pm to 6pm ET and Saturdays at 6pm ET. For the latest from The Situation Room click here.

Filed under: 2012 • Bain Capital • Mitt Romney • Taxes • TV-The Situation Room
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Dee

    Seriously! It amazed me when Republicans get upset with comments like this from Democrats. As far as I'm concerned Republicans wrote the play book on "false, deceptive and dishonest advertisements". Romney, why don't you provide full disclosure of your records. Do you have something to hide?

    July 13, 2012 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  2. Joseph W Banks, Sr

    Like I said earlier this probably will not be seen on CNN. All I have to say is go ahead and put osama back in the white house again. The deficit is already four times what it was so wait till 2016 it will go from 13,000 to somewhere near 30,00 or 40,000 so if you want us all to pay with the economy like it is it will also be a hell of a lot worse too. There is nothing wrong with Romney being a Mormon. He will probably be a whole of a lot better than what we have now. I will bet you one thing he want tell you a bunch of lies. Mormons are probably the best Christian people I know.

    July 13, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  3. Andre

    CNN seems to be doing some heavy due diligence the past few days. John King put out some lengthy detective work this morning as well with his Bain article. Where was this kind of scrutiny on Obama in 2008? Isues, small or large
    ? Anything? And you wonder why people think the MSM is biased??

    July 13, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  4. Martin Walters Seattle

    Baingate is going to be something drags down Romney or even ends his campaign. Time for Ron Paul ?

    July 13, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  5. Scott in Michigan

    Yes Mr. Romney, the current President will stoop to whatever is necessary to muddy the waters, create any sort of diversion and fool the American people to win votes. Don't you forget it. Time for the GOP to get aggressive and take back our country.

    July 13, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  6. Doc

    Oh, please. Like I believe a word this con artist says. God help us if he wins the election.

    July 13, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  7. Billy

    This just in: ALL political campaigns are deceptive and dishonest.

    July 13, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  8. mauiharper

    Show us your tax returns Mr. Romney. If you received a salary from Bain and were the sole stock holder, you have a lot of explaining to do. It should be no problem for you to disclose you tax returns as other presidential candidates do if you are so honest.

    July 13, 2012 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  9. Martin Walters Seattle

    Baingate is going to be something that drags down Romney or even ends his campaign. Time for Ron Paul ?

    July 13, 2012 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  10. Rick Karner

    However, Mitt Romney is NOT denying that what the Obama administration is claiming. Prove it Mitt by releasing your tax returns going back to 1999. Let's see how much compensation you made working for Bain in the disputed years. If you didn't work there, you would not have been paid compensation from Bain. Let us see your tax returns and help us understand how we can only pay 15% tax on our income like you do.

    July 13, 2012 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  11. GI Joe

    Republicans ALWAYS accuse dems of what they are doing.

    Romney has been a liar since day 1. He has tried to deceive everyone since he first started running for office in the 1990's. PROVEN.

    July 13, 2012 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  12. Tmo

    So if for 3 1/2 years Oblamo has been blaming Bush for everything, does that mean when Oblamo is re-elected he will continue to blame Bush when all his policies continue to fail or will he blame the guy who was President from 2009 – 2012?

    July 13, 2012 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  13. yoshisen

    Well now Obama, what can you do. Either you can call it, or you own it. And if you own it, you also fully own Holder. That's a Check.

    July 13, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  14. Moby Schtick

    Seriously? Mitt, grow a pair. This is politics; the highest office in the land. And you know full well that your campaign has done plenty of misrepresenting and dishonesty from its conception until now. This ain't puffball, it's politics.

    July 13, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  15. Kenny

    Show us the your 10 years of tax returns. By refusing to hide you appear to be sly

    July 13, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  16. Jewels

    A couple things that stand out with the Jim Costa interview. Mitt is saying he had no involvement with Bain after 1999 - and that prior docs. he provided which reflected him working with Staples in a later year - was for personal reasons (not representing Bain). Second, he will not be releasing anymore tax returns and was very clear about that. I think that's not going to bode well for him. As for the Bain piece - I guess I'd like to see further evidence before forming an opinion on the matter. What bothers me more are the people he surrounds himself with - Cheney of all people. That to me is telling.

    July 13, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  17. Robett Beauchamp

    Matthew Mosk wrote about Romney's blind trust back in December. Romney's campaign justified the placement of some of the candidate's holdings in the international tax haven of the Cayman islands, explaining the money was put there by the trust and not by Romney. But in August, when Romney filed his financial disclosure report it was reported his "blind trust" invested over $1 million of the candidate's money in the SolamereFounders Fund. Solamere is managed by Tagg Romney, Mitt's son. Could CNN please ask Mr. Romney how both of these things can be true?

    July 13, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  18. matt

    Romney left Bain Capital to save the Salt Lake City Olympic games... a position in which he did not take a salary. Similar to when he was governor.

    Will CNN give him his due for his work for the Olympics? I doubt it. As a matter of fact, it has always been an accepted fact that Romney's work did wonders for those games, but my guess is that the legacy media will end up spinning it to where he was a failure. After all, they have to get Obama re-elected somehow...it is their job as liberal journalists, isn't it?

    July 13, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  19. israel

    wow is romney actually crying about pol's being deceptive and dishonest??? grow up you big baby this is politics, it's called mudslinging....it's been going on for decades and decades, don't act like you have no idea what you're in for

    July 13, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  20. Credibility

    How can Romney say he did not have "any" role in Bain when he was listed as 100% shareholder CEO until 2002 on SEC records signed by Romney himself? That is either dereliction of duty or lying.

    If Romney refuses to be accountable for his own company, how is expected to be accountable for the presidency?

    July 13, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  21. Ryan Wenzel

    It's only dirty campaigning if it's untrue. Either Romney's a felon or Mr. Hope and Change is about to experience one of the biggest backfires in the history of negative campaigning.

    July 13, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  22. nuser

    I suspect there is much more association with Bains , than there is revealed here. However that is not as important as being the founder of Bains and outsourcing , people losing jobs and generally making money out of peoples miseries. The
    adage: guilty by association gets even worse , when you(Romney) is the association!

    July 13, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  23. Bob

    Why is it that republicans can dish it out but not take it? They can call Obama a terrorist, a socialist, and even bring out clowns like Donald Trump to question his right to be president, but the democrats make one factual statement and they want to take their ball and go home?

    Mann up and answer the quesstions Mitt........ Or do you know the answers will kill any chance you have of being president?

    July 13, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    this isn't going away til he releases more tax returns.

    July 13, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  25. JoJo

    Romney is lying. The Liberals used to be good at lying but the Replutocrats have far surpassed them now. They lied us into an entire war (in Iraq). Nobody will ever top that. It's like Damaggio's hitting streak record - unsurpassable.

    July 13, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
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