Mitt Romney offered up few new details on his role at Bain Capital and said that voters should not expect more information on his finances during a slate of primetime TV interviews.
Romney again insisted that he bore no responsibility for any investments or actions taken by Bain from 1999-2002 while he was running the Olympics, despite being listed as the company’s sole stockholder, president, CEO and chairman of the board in numerous SEC filings.
“I had no association with the management of Bain Capital after February of 1999,” Romney told ABC News. “That is when I left the firm. I am very pleased with the experience I had with the firm but as everyone knows I went on to run the Olympics for three years. I was there full time. After that I came back and ran in Massachusetts for governor.”
CBS News’s Jan Crawford asked Romney that even if he wasn’t involved in day-to-day operations at Bain, as the listed owner of the company, “Doesn’t the buck stop with you?” Romney insisted he should not be politically liable for anything that happened after 1999.
“Actually, when you leave an enterprise and you have other people who are managing the enterprise, who take responsibility for the investment decisions, who decide who’s going to get hired and fired, who decide compensation decisions, they’re the managers, they’re the people running the business,” Romney said.
Romney told the Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission in 2002 that he attended meetings with some companies where he sat on the board, including Staples, where Bain was an early investor, and LifeLike, a company in which Bain was still invested.
On Friday, he told CNN that his relationship with Staples should not be considered relevant, since Bain was no longer invested in the office giant and his work was “totally on a personal basis.” He told CBS that “I don’t recall even coming back once to go to a Bain or management meeting.”
In each interview, Romney consistently tried to regain offense by accusing President Obama and his aides of waging a negative and personal campaign against him. He specifically demanded an apology for Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter’s assertion that Romney may be liable for a felony if his SEC filings were inaccurate.
“What kind of president would have a campaign that says something like that about the nominee of another party?” Romney said to CBS. “This is reckless and absurd on his part, and it’s something that’s beneath his dignity. I hope he recognizes that even fellow Democrats have said that.”
In his interview with ABC, Romney said Obama “sure as heck ought to say that he’s sorry for the kinds of attacks that are coming from his team.”
In addition to questions over whether Romney truly severed all ties with Bain Capital in 1999, his campaign has been under pressure from Democrats — and even some Republicans — to release several years of tax returns in order to show that he gained no tax benefit from assets in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and a bank account in Switzerland. Romney told CNN he had no plan to release any more returns beyond his 2010 return, which was filed when he was launching his bid for the presidency, and his as-yet-unreleased 2011 return.
“That’s all that’s necessary for people to understand something about my finances,” Romney said.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.