Romney campaign senior adviser Ed Gillespie defended his candidate from attacks over the timing of his departure from Bain Capital during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, saying Romney retired “retroactively” from the firm.

Romney has come under heavy fire from the Obama campaign and its Democratic allies recently due to the emergence of documents Bain filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that list Romney as chief executive until 2002, three years after he has said he left the company to head the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

“He took a leave of absence and, in fact, Candy, he ended up not going back at all and retired retroactively to February of 1999 as a result,” Gillespie said.

The timing of Romney’s departure from Bain has emerged as an issue for the former Massachusetts governor because he says he had no involvement in the private-equity firm’s investments after he left in 1999. The Obama campaign has hammered Romney in ads over layoffs that took place after 1999 at companies controlled by Bain.

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