President Obama and top campaign staffers made clear this weekend they will not apologize for saying the financial company Bain Capital outsourced jobs under Mitt Romney’s leadership and suggesting Romney may have committed a felony with his SEC filings, Fox News reports.
Republican presidential nominee Romney demanded an apology last week after Obama’s campaign suggested he may have broken the law by misrepresenting his position at private-equity firm Bain Capital, part of an assault on the former executive’s business career and personal wealth that may be hurting him in the polls.
“No, we won’t be apologizing,” Obama said in an interview with a Virginia television station WAVY.
“Mr. Romney claims that he’s Mr. Fix-it for the economy because of his business experience. And so I think voters entirely legitimately want to know, well what exactly was that business experience?” Obama said.
Questions about Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital and the fortune he earned there have dogged the former Massachusetts governor as Obama and his allies have said the Boston-based firm shipped jobs overseas. According to The Huff Post, Romney insists he left the company in February 1999 to take over the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, but documents suggest he was still in charge as late as 2001.
Democrats have highlighted companies that went bankrupt or shipped jobs overseas under Bain’s ownership to argue that Romney is only concerned with helping his fellow millionaires, not working people.
Romney’s campaign has said he should not be held responsible for many of those decisions because they occurred after he took a leave of absence from Bain in February 1999 to oversee the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, writes Reuters.
However, Romney continued to claim in regulatory filings that he was still in charge of Bain through 2002, according to documents that have surfaced over the past week. Bain and Romney officials say it took several years to sort out the terms of his departure but that he was not involved with the company’s day-to-day operations during that time.
Romney’s advisers, trying to explain the discrepancies between Romney’s account and federal documents, offered fresh explanations to shift the campaign back to more comfortable ground.
“He actually retired retroactively at that point,” Romney adviser Ed Gillespie said. “He ended up not going back to the firm after his time in Salt Lake City. So he was actually retired from Bain.”
Obama’s campaign has accused Romney of being responsible for the firing of workers and bankruptcies at Bain-owned companies during those years.
“So, you know, as president of the United States, one of the things I’ve learned … was anything that happens on my watch is my responsibility. That’s what people expect. Harry Truman said ‘the buck stops with me’ and I think, understandably, people are going to be interested in are you (Romney) in fact responsible for this company that you say is one of your primary calling cards for your wanting to be president,” Obama sad in the interview.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said Obama’s attacks cheapen the presidency and are an attempt to distract voters from Obama’s record in office.
“With these attacks, it shows that he’s just a small politician and running on small-ball politics at a time when our country is facing grave, grave challenges,” Ayotte said.
The Romney campaign released a new television ad relying on footage of journalists talking about how Obama’s negative tactics this year contrasted sharply with the message of hope and change he campaigned on four years ago.
“This is not the candidate of hope and change, this is a candidate who is hoping to change the subject,” Republican Representative Paul Ryan, another possible vice presidential candidate, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”