Mitt Romney, who was clearly on the offensive from a blistering onslaught of attacks from many fronts about his departure date from Bain Capital being in February 1999 and not three years later, granted media interviews Friday evening to quell the storm. Well, it depends on who you ask about how he did. He left more questions than answers. For starters, he told CBS News’ Jan Crawford that he did not attend Bain Capital meetings after he left the company in February of 1999 to run the Winter Olympics, but that contradicts sworn testimony he gave in 2002 “as part of a hearing to determine whether he had sufficient residency status in Massachusetts to run for governor.”
Here’s a partial transcript from Jonathan Karl’s Mitt Romney’s Friday evening interview on the offensive:
KARL: Okay but let me ask you, because a lot of this comes down to exactly when you had responsibility for what regarding Bain. After 1999, you are still listed on SEC document as being quote, “the chairman of the board, the chief executive officer and the president.” Don’t ultimately you bear responsibility for what happened at the company during that time?
ROMNEY: I left the company in February of 1999, but retained ownership until we were able to negotiate a departure and retirement program from the company. I had no role whatsoever in the management of Bain Capital after February of 1999.
And by the way, the people at the firm said that. Even Democrats in the firm, one of whom ran for U.S. Senate as a Democrat says exactly the same thing and this has been litigated time and time again, independent fact checkers have said the same thing. There’s absolutely no evidence that I had any role whatsoever in the management of Bain Capital after February of 1999. It’s a great firm. I’m very proud that they’ve done well. My goodness, I was there for what, 14 years? And then went on to run the Olympics.
And anyone who questions that can look at the fact I spent the next three years full time running the Olympic games and had no involvement with Bain Capital.
KARL: So you bear no responsibility for what happened to that company even though those SEC forms list you as chairman and the chief executive officer and the president of the company?
ROMNEY: The ownership shares of the company were ownership shares which I retained, but when I left Bain Capital in February of 1999, I went out to run the Olympics and said good-bye to my colleagues. They took over the business. They organized new funds for instance and pointed out that who managers were. They don’t list me as a manager.
Here’s a partial transcript from his CBS News interview with Jan Crawford:
JAN CRAWFORD: Governor Romney, the Obama campaign is saying that you either committed a felony by lying to the SEC or you are lying to the American people about when you left Bain capital. What do you say to that?
GOV. MITT ROMNEY: Well, I think this kind of statement from the Obama team is really shocking, it’s, it’s ridiculous, and it’s beneath the dignity of the presidency. Look we just had a report come out that millions of Americans remain unemployed. We have 8.2 percent unemployment. That’s the 41st straight month we’re above eight percent and the president’s campaign comes out with these ridiculous charges that obviously every fact checker that looked at it has said it’s absurd. And yet they keep on pushing it. I simply – I simply think the president has to recognize that this should be a campaign about the direction of the country, and these personal attacks have to stop.
CRAWFORD: But you say it’s ridiculous. But why is there this discrepancy? You said you left Bain in 1999 yet Bain is listing you as CEO up until 2002, so why were you listed as CEO until 2002?
GOV. ROMNEY: The documents show that there’s a difference between ownership, which is I owned shares in Bain, but I did not manage Bain. I left as everyone knows to go out and run the Olympics in February of 1999. I was full-time running the Olympics. I had no role whatsoever in the management of Bain after I went off to the Olympics. And that’s been demonstrated by people who work at Bain, by all of the documents, but I still retained an ownership interest, I had the capacity if I were not on leave, if I were actually wanting to run the business to do so, but I did not. I left. And that’s been demonstrated time and time again.
CRAWFORD: Even if you weren’t making these daily managerial decisions, though, doesn’t the buck stop with you?
GOV. ROMNEY: Actually when you leave an enterprise, when you have other people who are managing the enterprise, who take responsibility for all the investment decisions, who decide who’s going to get hired and fired, who decide compensation decisions, they’re the managers, they’re the people running the business. I left the business and went off to run the Olympics, did that full time and after three years, when the Olympics were over, we arranged my departure officially from a retirement standpoint.
Well, I am not totally convinced that Mitt Romney can get his story straight. I guess this could all go away if Mitt Romney would only release tax returns for multiple years but I suspect he has something to hide, specifically how he made money when he claims to have left Bain Capital. That will be a goldmine. Donald Trump seems awfully quiet on this one.
This article was cross-posted from The Hinterland Gazette.