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Interview with Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney

Interview with Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney

By The Situation Room - July 13, 2012

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Governor, thanks for joining us.

Let's talk first about this controversy over when you left Bain Capital.

I'll put one of the documents in question up on screen, their SEC filing stating that you were CEO at Bain Capital past 1999.

When you say you left Bain to run the Olympics, why was your name still on these documents and why didn't you clear this up sooner?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I was the owner of an entity that is filing those information -- that information, but I had no role whatsoever in the management of Bain Capital after February of 1999, not that that would have been a problem, to have said that I was with the firm beyond that, but I simply wasn't.

I left in February of 1999 to go out and run the Olympics. I went out and did that full-time, relinquished all management authority and role in Bain Capital after February of 1999.

ACOSTA: Then how do you explain that discrepancy, though, that your name is on these filings and yet you said publicly you left the firm in 1999?

Weren't you concerned, at some point, that these filings might become public and people would see that your name was still on these filings?

ROMNEY: Well, there's nothing wrong with being associated with Bain Capital, of course. But the truth is that I left any role at Bain Capital in February of '99. And -- and that's known and that's said by the people at the firm.

It's said by the documents -- offering documents that the firm made subsequently about people investing in the firm. And I think anybody who knows that 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 -- 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.

ACOSTA: But...

ROMNEY: And I had no role whatsoever in managing Bain Capital after February of 1999.

And by the way, this is all an effort on the part of the president's campaign to divert attention from the fact that the president has been a failure when it comes to reigniting America's economy.

We have had now 41 straight months with unemployment above 8 percent. And so he continues to try and find some way to attack me other than to talk about policy. And it's time to talk about what it will take to get America working again.

ACOSTA: Well, you also testified in 2002 in front of the Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission. Your campaign provided us with a document from that filing.

And it says -- I'll read you a line from it. It says, "The respondent" -- talking about you, Mitt Romney -- "returned to Massachusetts from Utah to attend meetings at Staples."

Staples is, of course, a company you helped create when you were at Bain Capital.

Isn't that active participation at a Bain-related company?

ROMNEY: Well, actually, Staples, at that point, was an investment by Bain Capital. Bain Capital had already sold its shares or distributed its shares in Staples. And so my involvement with Staples was entirely on a personal basis.

I continued to be involved with the firm, but it was as a fiduciary for Staples, not as a representative of Bain Capital, because Bain Capital had no further interest in Staples at that point.

ACOSTA: And you mentioned the president's campaign and what they've been...

ROMNEY: Look, I...

ACOSTA: ... saying about you.

ROMNEY: ... I don't -- I don't -- yes. Yes.

ACOSTA: No...

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: I know there's going to be every effort to try -- to try and find some kind of attack piece on the part of the Obama campaign.

But interestingly, every independent fact checker that's looked at this in-depth, not just taken a quick interview, but looked at in great depth, has said that the president's claims are false, misleading, wrong-headed. It got multiple Pinocchios from one reviewer.

Look, what he's doing is doing everything in his power to try and divert attention from the fact that his policies have failed the American people.

ACOSTA: Yes.

ROMNEY: And -- and this -- this -- these kinds of attacks in this campaign are simply completely out of consistent...

ACOSTA: Well...

ROMNEY: ... out of character from what we'd expect from the presidency.

ACOSTA: Let me ask you...

ROMNEY: It's beneath his dignity.

ACOSTA: Yes, and let me ask you about what the campaign has said. As you know, Obama's -- President Obama's deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, was very harsh in a conference call on Thursday.

Listen to what she said and then we'll get your response afterward.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STEPHANIE CUTTER, OBAMA DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Either Mitt Romney, through his own work and his own signature, was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony, or he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid -- responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Ms. Cutter suggested you might be guilty of a felony, Governor Romney.

What is your response to that?

ROMNEY: Is that really what's expected from the campaign of the sitting president of the United States, of the Republican nominee of his party?

I mean is this -- is this the level that the Obama campaign is willing to stoop to?

Is this -- is this up to the standards expected of the presidency of the United States?

I don't think the American people think so. I certainly don't think so. I think it's a very disappointing revelation on their parent.

Let's talk about what it takes to get America working again and to help the American people in very difficult times, as opposed to have a campaign doing exactly what they said from the beginning.

ACOSTA: Do you believe that they're...

ROMNEY: They announced early on, one of their insiders said that they -- their -- their campaign was going to be based upon the strategy of -- quote -- "kill Romney," end of quote. That's what they're doing. It's disgusting. It's demeaning. It's something which I think the president should take responsibility for and stop.

ACOSTA: And do you believe you're being swift-boated in this campaign?

ROMNEY: Boy, I hadn't heard that term, but I'll give it some thought. I -- I -- I think what the president is doing is -- is terribly destructive to the political process and be -- beneath what the people of America expected from someone who said he was going to rise above partisan politics and bring a new era of change to Washington.

We're -- we're not seeing that in this campaign so far.

ACOSTA: Because both campaigns, on Thursday, Governor Romney, were basically calling each other liars.

Is that the kind of campaign the American people should expect?

And shouldn't your campaign take some responsibility for calling the president's campaign and their people liars?

ROMNEY: You know what the president's campaign has done so far is run advertisement after advertisement which is then shown by independent fact checkers to be wrong, false, misleading. And yet they keep running them. And they hold press conferences continuing to speak about them.

And at some point, you have to respond. You can't just have the -- the airwaves covered with these ads day in and day out without saying, look, those are false.

ACOSTA: So is the president lying...

ROMNEY: And what the president's...

ACOSTA: ... about your record?

ROMNEY: ... campaign team is doing is false.

ACOSTA: Is the -- is the president lying about your records...

(CROSSTALK)

ACOSTA: ... then, Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: There -- there's no question but that his campaign is putting out information which is false and deceptive and dishonest. And they know it. And they ought to stop.

ACOSTA: They've called on you to release more of your tax returns. You've released your 2010 tax return and a 2011 estimate.

Bill Clinton was on the "Today" show today saying that you should release more.

As you know, during the Republican primaries, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry all called for you to release your taxes. Those are leader from both parties saying that you should release more of your taxes.

When are you going to release more of your taxes and how many years?

ROMNEY: I've indicated that -- well, first of all, we've complied with the law. The law requires us to put out a full -- financial disclosure. That I've done.

And then, in addition to that, I've already put out one year of tax returns. We'll put out the next year of tax returns as soon as the accountants have that ready. And that's what we're going to put out.

I know there will always be calls for more. People always want to get more. And, you know, we're putting out what is required plus more that is not required. And those are the two years that people are going to have. And that's -- that's all that's necessary for people to understand something about my finances.

And, look, if people believe this should be a campaign about attacking one another on a personal basis and go back to the kinds of attacks that were suggested in some campaigns in the past, I don't want to go there.

I -- I want this to be a campaign about the direction for America and about who can get America working again and who can rein in the excessive deficits that you're seeing in Washington.

The president, apparently, is not ready for an honest and important debate about the future of America.

ACOSTA: Well, we have to go, Governor.

ROMNEY: He, instead, is insistent on trying to make this a campaign of attacks.

ACOSTA: I understand.

And we have to go, Governor Romney, but I wanted to ask you, there was an item in The Drudge Report that said that your campaign is vetting Condoleezza Rice or looking at Condoleezza Rice as a front- runner for vice president. I know it's your -- it's been your position not to talk about the vetting process or the vice presidential process.

But are you concerned about your campaign and -- and your candidacy being associated with so many members of the Bush administration?

You were holding a fund-raiser with Dick Cheney on Thursday. John Bolton is associated with your campaign. And apparently you've also been talking with Condoleezza Rice.

Are you concerned about that kind of association when that administration is still not very popular with the American people?

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: Well, I -- I don't have anything to say, of course, about the vice presidential process. And -- and, of course I speak with people of a wide range of -- of political backgrounds and views.

John Bolton is a very different person than -- than Condoleezza Rice, who's a very different person, for instance, than George Shultz and Henry Kissinger. I speak with people I agree with and people I disagree with.

But I can tell you this. My policies, as relate to foreign policy and relate to domestic policy, are mine. They're not the carbon copy of any person's in the past.

And particularly with regards to our domestic policy right now, what we have to do to get this economy going is very different than what happened under prior presidencies of President Bush.

This is a very different time, with a very serious, ongoing distressed economy. I know what it takes to get this economy going. My Jobs Recovery Plan will do just that. And it's something I'm proud of. And I think the American people deserve to have a discussion about that issue, not these kind of attacks that are coming from the president.

ACOSTA: All right, Governor Romney, thanks very much for your time.

We appreciate it.

ROMNEY: Thanks, guys. 

Mitt Romney for Mayor
Carl M. Cannon · November 16, 2014

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