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. PJ/TX

    Mr. Acosta did the best he could, but talking to a brick wall isn't easy.
    I wouldn't call it "spirited", I would call it lame.
    Here's what I learned:
    1. Mostly Obama bashing.
    2. No more tax form releases.
    3. No answers,
    4. His ideas are not Bush's but, again, no specifics.
    Thanks Mitt, for confirming what I think of you: Stiff, arrogant, and secretive.

    July 13, 2012 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  2. sbrezzy

    oh LOOK at the teakettle calling the pot black...... this bain thing might be a felony if he lied under oath.... this is going to get very interesting and im not surprised one bit. Theres a reason mccain looked at this guys tax records and then chose palin instead....

    July 13, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  3. ericgoestoholland

    And hey, if anyone should be able to recognize a political diversion when he sees one, it's mitt romney....

    July 13, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  4. Guest

    Typical political mud slinging. But it's interesting that all that Mittens does is deflect and try to come back at obama with empty attacks. The Obama people asked a simple question, did you, or did you not leave Bain in 1999? There is evidence that he didn't leave in 1999 so either he is a felon, or he is lying to the american people. BTW before people attack me, I do not endorse either candidate and simply put forth that Mitt Romney NEVER answers ANY specific question.

    July 13, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  5. Mark

    And Romney continues to look like the rich villain from every 80's comedy ever made.

    July 13, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  6. Mike

    Why am I suppose to be concerned with what Romney's has done with his money, yet not concerned with what Obama has done with MINE? At least Romney has business experience, vs a community organizer who wants to destroy American busines.

    July 13, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  7. Name tommy

    Why would Romeny want to release more of his tax form when it's going to shown he was still working at Bain capital beyond 1999?

    July 13, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  8. Leslie Mann

    I am so tired of "old school" politics. Wake me up when really talented people decide to run with the agenda of working together to solve one problem... getting this country back on track before we write the same chapter as Britain did nearly a century ago.

    July 13, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  9. Guest

    Are you kidding me, Mitty baby? You have been flip-flopping on ever issues, taxes, health bill, pro-life or pro-choice, are you independent or conservative republican?

    One thing about you is that you are a liar, arrogant, pompous and always dodging a question.

    You are a coward and an empty suit.

    July 13, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  10. Kenneth Brown

    The republicans have been playing very dirty politics for many years, and now that the democratic president has decided to use their own "Rove" tactics against them, Mitt Romney cries fowl like a spoiled rotten child...unbelievable. Let's not forget Palin running around the country telling McCain supporters in 2008 that Obama paled around with terrorists and that he was a socialist and questioned his claim he was a Christian. Then for the past three years many republicans wanted to see the president's long-form birth certificate claiming he wasn't born here. Boo hoo Willard!

    July 13, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  11. joeazona

    it getting ugly in here..

    July 13, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  12. Kris

    I cannot believe you had 10 minutes to question a man who would like to be our next President and you did not ask him a single question about policies he would put in place. Let me suggest a few questions if you get this opportunity again:
    1. If you successfully repeal Obamacare what specifically will you replace it with?
    2. Do you approve of the indefinite detention and domestic propaganda provisions in the recent NDAAs, and if so, why? if not, will you work to have them removed?
    3. What do you see as the proper relationship between the State and the Federal Government? How would your Presidency reflect that belief?
    4. Which Supreme Court Justice is closest to the ideal you would pursue were you to have the opportunity to nominate?

    Any or all of these would have been better than the nonsense Jim Acosta sought answers to in his interview.

    July 13, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  13. Four and The Door

    "There's nothing wrong with being associated with Bain Capital, of course," Romney said in an interview with CNN's Jim Acosta.
    Mitt Romney is and should be proud of his accomplishments at Bain Capital. They have saved many American companies and thousands of American jobs. This is difficult work but very important for it's positive contributions to the national economy. Not everyone understands what this involves and that's okay. But for Obama/ Biden 2012 to take advantage of people who are not familiar with the work Private Equity firms do and to suggest it is always evil seems less than dignified as you would expect from a sitting president. Fortunately several Democrats have stood up and said this is good work and that Mitt Romney was an excellent businessman. He was and that is a huge positive in what he brings to help solve our national challenges. Who can blame Obama/ Biden for being intimidated? They are vulnerable because of their struggles with the economy.

    July 13, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  14. CP in FL

    Rmoney is a slimeball that only cares about the 1%.

    July 13, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  15. Langkard

    The Obama campaign is deceptive and dishonest? Wow.

    Either Romney was lying when he signed SEC forms as late as 2002 stating that he was the sole owner, 100% stockholder, CEO and president (yes, all of those) at Bain or he was lying when he said he left Bain in 1999. He can't have it both ways. One or the other is a LIE. And he has the gall to say Obama is lying? Impressive lack of honesty there, Mitt. While you're being so open, how about releasing all of those tax returns which are going to show that for several years you paid ZERO taxes, while you had money stashed in offshore accounts? You're a modern day robber baron and a thief.

    July 13, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  16. KF

    Simple. Release your Tax information. I honestly don't believe there's anything illegal going on, however I am guessing the information in there conflicts with the persona he's trying to pass himself as, if that's the case, its more damaging to not release it. Come clean and release it, he gave upwards of 23 years of tax information to Mccain, why can't he the do the same here? Unless he's trying to hide something.

    July 13, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  17. David

    Romney needs to start talking about what he is going to do. I want to know more of his agenda, not just about destroying Obamacare either. Right now, I don't know much about him, or even where he stands on issues, like illegal immigration for example.

    July 13, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  18. Luella Iaquinto

    Are you kidding me, that was a good interview? It was not even mentioned that these stories were reported in several places. It was not just the Obama campaign questioning this! No question about the fact that he has offshore accounts or that he drew a salary from Bain when he supposedly was not there. Terrible interview, and I have to say that over the past few days CNN....Gergen,Blitzer and King very pro Romney. Check yourselves!! This is why your rating are so awful.

    July 13, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  19. Jeff Z

    You can hide but you can't run ( on lies), Mitt.

    July 13, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  20. Maximus9

    Obama, Romney, the business of politics = doesn't matter, pick your poison. Got to love these charades. PATHETIC!

    July 13, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  21. CP in FL

    Rmoney is a slimeball that only cares about the 1 percent. Anyone not making over one million dollars a year that votes for Rmoney is voting against their own best interest. Rmoney should release his tax returns from 2000 and 2001 if he wants to prove that he was not still the owner of Bain Capital. Mittens, I hope you are going to wear your magic underwear on November 6, you are going to need them.

    July 13, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  22. The Other Dale

    Hmm. Notice that he didn't actually deny the charges though. He just says a lot of stuff about how horrible Obama is, but nothing to defend the reports.

    July 13, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  23. Pat

    The irony in all of this is Bain outsourced jobs before and after 1999, so this line draw is rediculous. Either Romney or the SEC is lyng and if both or anyone, he still was invovled in outsourcing jobs to China.

    July 13, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  24. GL

    In all honesty not leader of any nation is a saint. However more and more Romney looks like a fool. His party is all but pushing for a duck to beat Obama.

    July 13, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    North Korea has YET to dismantle it's intelligence into a quantifiable effort among Latinos. If Romney is ever going to win this election, hes going to need the support of the Lithuanian Government. I can't believe the U.S. Embassy allows turtles. Anybody wanna bet we take the General in the third round and leave McCain swimming in his own sour cream and onion dip?

    July 13, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
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