The Obama campaign went on the attack Thursday after a bombshell report revealed that Mitt Romney was the CEO of Bain Capital for years longer than he has previously admitted.
Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said this new disclosure shows Romney is “the most secretive candidate to run for president since Richard Nixon.”
“At every turn, at every piece of Mitt Romney’s record or credential, whether it’s Bain, whether it’s his own personal finances, whether it’s who is raising money for him or his time in the Statehouse in Massachusetts, there is an enormous cloud over Mitt Romney’s record because of his penchant for secrecy and not wanting to be transparent and open with the American people,” Cutter said on a conference call with reporters.
This latest report puts Romney on the defensive over his ties to Bain Capital, a central focus of the Obama campaign’s attacks on the Republican’s candidacy. It also plays into the Obama camp’s charge that Romney is not being truthful and forthcoming about his finances and tax returns.
The Romney campaign disputed the Boston Globe story that found, based on documents filed with the SEC, that the former Massachusetts governor had served as the CEO at Bain until 2002, although Romney has maintained that he left active management of the firm in 1999.
“The article is not accurate,” Romney press secretary Andrea Saul said in a statement. “As Bain Capital has said, as Governor Romney has said, and as has been confirmed by independent fact checkers multiple times, Governor Romney left Bain Capital in February of 1999 to run the Olympics and had no input on investments or management of companies after that point.”
And Romney adviser Matt McDonald told POLITICO that “Romney wasn’t involved in any investment decisions. He was on the SEC filings because he was still technically the owner but hadn’t transferred ownership to other partners.”
Cutter said the Globe report should set off alarms for the American public about trusting Romney’s biography — and that it also seriously undercuts any claims from his campaign that Romney is “someone who understands the real economy” unlike President Barack Obama.
“When he left the Statehouse in Massachusetts, he and his senior staff took all the hard drives with them. And with those hard drives were really the record of the governorship of Mitt Romney. So that broke precedent in Massachusetts. And then finally, Mitt Romney’s Olympic record [is] less than wholesome, shall we say, in terms of the decisions that were made there, the contracts that were signed, and the basic operation of how Mitt Romney ran the Olympics,” she said.
The Globe story reports that, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Romney did not leave Bain Capital in 1999 as he said he had but continued his tenure for three additional years.
“Government documents filed by Mitt Romney and Bain Capital say Romney remained chief executive and chairman of the firm three years beyond the date he said he ceded control, even creating five new investment partnerships during that time,” Globe reporters Callum Borchers and Christopher Rowland wrote.
And Obama said Romney’s experience at a private-equity firm “doesn’t necessarily make you qualified to think about the economy as a whole.”
“When some people question why I would challenge his Bain record, the point I’ve made there in the past is, if you’re a head of a large private-equity firm or hedge fund, your job is to make money. It’s not to create jobs. It’s not even to create a successful business. It’s to make sure that you’re maximizing returns for your investor,” Obama said.
“Now, that’s appropriate,” the president added. “That’s part of the American way. That’s part of the system. But that doesn’t necessarily make you qualified to think about the economy as a whole, because as president, my job is to think about the workers. My job is to think about communities, where jobs have been outsourced.”
His opponent’s business record must be looked at in depth before the election, Obama said.
“I do not think at all it disqualifies him,” Obama said of Romney’s business experience. “But I also think it’s important if that’s his main calling card, if his basic premise is that ‘I’m Mr. Fix It on the economy because I made a lot of money.’”
Rose then jumped in, “But that’s not what he’s saying.”
The president replied, “Well, no, that is to some a degree, what he says is he understands the economy and the private sector.”
The Romney campaign pushed back on Friday by highlighting the part of Obama’s interview when the president said “the mistake” of his first term has been with storytelling.
“Just yesterday, President Obama once again proved how out of touch he is with the struggles of middle-class families. With unemployment remaining over 8 percent for 41 straight months and millions of Americans out of work, President Obama had the audacity to declare that the biggest mistake of his presidency is not being a good storyteller. President Obama’s record of failure speaks for itself – it’s clear he does not know how to fix our economy and is taking our nation in the wrong direction. America doesn’t need a storyteller – they need a proven job creator like Mitt Romney who has a pro-growth plan to help put people back to work and get our country back on the right track,” Romney campaign spokesperson Amanda Henneberg said in an email.