President Obama on Friday defended his campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital after a flurry of charges and countercharges this week concerning Romney’s role at the private equity firm after he said he left to run the Salt Lake City Olympics.
“When some people question why I would challenge his Bain record, the point I’ve made there in the past is, if you’re a head of a large private equity firm or hedge fund, your job is to make money,” Obama said on “CBS This Morning”
“It’s not to create jobs. It’s not even to create a successful business - it’s to make sure that you’re maximizing returns for your investor. 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, because as president, my job is to think about the workers. My job is to think about communities, where jobs have been outsourced.”
“CBS This Morning” co-host Charlie Rose, who interviewed the president, did not ask directly about the charge made Thursday by Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, along with Obama campaign lawyer Bob Bauer, that Romney may have lied to the Securities and Exchange Commission about leaving Bain in early 1999 to run the Salt Lake City Olympics.
But Obama did say there are questions that still need to be answered about Romney’s record at Bain .
“I think it is entirely appropriate to look at that record and see whether, in fact, his focus was creating jobs and he successfully did that,” Obama said to Rose. “And when you look at the record, there are questions there that have to be asked.”
Rose asked Obama for his take on Romney’s qualifications to be president: “Do you believe his presidency would be a disaster? Because this is a man who’s been a successful businessperson. Does that disqualify him or make him appropriately a candidate for a political office? How do you take the measure of his business experience?”
Obama said, “I do not think at all it disqualifies him. But I also think it’s important if that’s his main calling card, if his basic premise is that, ‘I’m Mr. Fix-It on the economy, because I made a lot of money.’”
Rose said, “But that’s not what he’s saying.”
“Well, no, that is to - to some degree,” Obama said. “What he says is he understands the economy and the private sector.”
The Obama campaign’s earlier accusations were based on a Boston Globe story reporting that SEC filings show Romney remained chief executive, chairman, and sole stockholder after 1999, and implied that Romney had a hand in the outsourcing, job losses and bad deals that occurred at Bain between 1999 and 2002. The documents also showed, according to the Globe, that Romney earned $100,000 as a Bain “executive” in 2001 and 2002.
Our own Factchecker columnist, Glenn Kessler, has examined the SEC filing closely and concluded that language saying Romney was “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president” after 1999 was boilerplate that did not reveal whether he was actually managing Bain at the time.
Mitt Romney’s campaign manager Matt Rhoades is calling on the president to apologize for alleging that Romney was still responsible for Bain after 1999. Rhodes said the charge is “so over the top that it calls into question the integrity of their entire campaign.”