Mitt Romney said today that he surrendered all management control of Bain Capital in February 1999, even though he continued to be listed on government forms as the company’s owner for the next three years.
President Obama’s campaign said this week that the reports show that Romney should be held responsible for bankruptcies and layoffs from Bain investments after he assumed a role in February 1999 running the 2002 Olympics Winter Games.
“That’s known and said by people at the firm,” Romney said of the February 1999 date during an interview with CNN that followed a Globe report about the conflict between Romney’s public statements and Bain’s filings with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.
“It’s said by the offering documents that the firm made subsequently about people investing in the firm,” Romney added. “And I think anybody who knows I was out full-time running the Olympics would understand that’s where I was: I spent three years running the Olympic Games, and after that was over, we worked out our retirement program, our departure-official program, for Bain Capital, and handed over the shares I had. But there’s a difference between being a shareholder—an owner, if you will—and being a person who’s running an entity.”
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee said the Obama campaign’s focus on the discrepancy is part of an effort to divert attention “that the president has been a failure when it comes to reigniting America’s economy. He continues to try to find some way to attack me other than talk policy.”
He said the suggestion Thursday by Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter that Romney may be guilty of a felony was beneath the dignity of the presidency.
“Is this the level that the Obama campaign is willing to stoop to?” he said.
Asked if the president was lying about this record, Romney replied: “There’s no question but that his campaign is putting out information which is false and deceptive and dishonest. They know it and they ought to stop.”
Romney’s campaign arranged a round-robin series of interviews with the major broadcast and cable networks as the debate consumed the airwaves since the Globe’s initial report on Thursday.
On other topics, Romney said:
-He will release a second year of tax returns “as soon as the accountants have that ready,” but no more. In 1968, during his own presidential campaign, Romney’s father George released 12 years worth of tax returns.
“I know that there will always be calls for more,” Mitt Romney said. “People always want to get more. And, you know, we’re putting out what’s required, plus more that is not required.”
The multimillionaire added that those two years are “all that’s necessary to understand my finances.”
-He would not comment on reports he is considering former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as his running mate.
“I don’t have anything to say, of course, about the vice presidential process,” he said.
-He thinks the president is afraid to debate him head-to-head on issues.
“I want this to be campaign about the direction for America. And about who can get America working again, and who can reign in the deficits that you’re seeing in Washington. The president, apparently, is not ready for an honest and important debate for America,” said Romney.Glen Johnson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.