Mitt Romney granted a round of television interviews Friday evening to respond to accusations that he stayed at Bain Capital past February of 1999, just as newly-uncovered Bain company documents from July of that year reveal that the former Massachusetts governor had taken a “part-time leave of absence to head the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee for the 2002 Games,” rather than retiring entirely, as the Romney campaign has insisted. A 1999 Boston Herald article similarly reported that “Romney said he will stay on as a part-timer with Bain, providing input on investment and key personnel decisions.”
But Romney disputed these accounts. “It’s ridiculous and below the dignity of the presidency and his campaign,” he said in an interview with Fox News and suggested that the story was meant to distract voters from the economy. The president “ought to apologize for what he’s doing,” Romney told CBS. “If I were president of the United States, I would put a stop to it and apologize to my campaign for what has been done by his,” Romney said on ABC. The candidate also said he would not be releasing additional tax returns, as some have requested.
The rare media tour comes after Security Exchange Commission (SEC) documents showed that Romney remained CEO of Bain Capital until 2002 and thus may have been at least partially responsible for the company’s activities — including major layoffs and investments in companies that shipped jobs overseas — between 1999 and 2002. The Obama campaign has suggested that Romney either lied to the SEC or is now misrepresenting his role with the company to voters.
The president himself turned up the heat during an interview with a local ABC affiliate. “Now, my understanding is that Mr. Romney attested to the SEC, multiple times, that he was the chairman, CEO and president of Bain Capital and 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 said.
In his interview with ABC, Romney also refused to weigh into the controversy surrounding the outsourcing of Olympic uniforms to China. “I’m not going to get into the uniform issue,” he said. “There are big issues associated with the Olympics: the security of the games, the readiness of our athletes and that’s what I’m going to focus on, hopefully when I get to cheer on the people who are going to be supporting and representing our country.”