Elections 2012: Obama Says It’s ‘Appropriate’ to Question Romney’s Bain Involvement

President Barack Obama weighed in Friday on the controversy surrounding when Mitt Romney surrendered leadership of his former financial firm, Bain Capital, saying he thinks the Republican candidate should address questions that have been raised.

President Obama defends his attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital, saying it is “entirely appropriate” to question his rival’s business experience. Photo: Lawrence Jackson/The White House

President Obama is calling on presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to answer questions about when exactly he left private equity firm Bain Capital, according to The Huff Post.

“I think most Americans figure if you are the chairman, CEO and president of a company, that you are responsible for what that company does,” Obama told ABC7 in an exclusive interview.

“Ultimately Mr. Romney, I think, is going to have to answer those questions, because if he aspires to being president, one of the things you learn is, you are ultimately responsible for the conduct of your operations. But again, that’s probably a question that he’s going to have to answer, and I think that’s a legitimate part of the campaign.”

“What he says is he understands the economy and the private sector,”  Obama told CBS News in an interview that aired this morning. “That’s his premise. I think it is entirely appropriate to look at that record and see whether in fact his focus was in creating jobs, and if he successfully did that.  And when you look at the record, there are questions there that have to be asked.”

“He doesn’t talk about the fact that he was the governor of Massachusetts for four years very much. … I want us to make sure that we know what your theory is about how to grow the economy.  And that is a question that I think most Americans want to know as well. This is the nature of running for president,” Obama said.

The president also questioned how Romney’s private sector experience would translate into job growth for the American people.

“If you’re head of a large equity firm or hedge fund, your job is to make money. It’s not to create jobs. It’s not even to create successful businesses. It’s to make sure you’re maximizing returns for your investor,” he said.

“Now, that’s appropriate. 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.”

Romney responded Friday to the damaging attacks by the Obama campaign over his tenure at Bain Capital, including a claim that he may have been guilty of a criminal offence by doing a round of five television interviews in an attempt to dampen the growing row.

According to Guardian, the interviews are embargoed until 6pm ET Friday.

Questions over Romney’s departure from Bain Capital escalated on Thursday, when a Boston Globe report indicated Romney may have remained active at the firm until 2002 — three years later than Romney has maintained throughout his campaign.

The Boston Globe on Thursday published filings by Bain to the securities and exchange commission listing Romney as sole owner, chief executive and president of Bain until 2002.

Both the Romney campaign and Bain Capital refuted the contents of the Globereport.

“The article is not accurate,” spokeswoman Andrea Saul said on Thursday in an emailed 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.”

“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,” a Romney campaign spokesperson said, noting that what the nation needs is “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.”

Bain Capital on Thursday released a statement in support of Romney, saying he had “absolutely no involvement with the management or investment activities of the firm or any of its portfolio companies since his departure” in February 1999.

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