Mitt Romney says he welcomes scrutiny of his business record at Bain Capital, but insists the upcoming election is more about the state of the economy and whether President Obama has made things "better" for the American people.
In an interview with Time Magazine's Mark Halperin, Romney defended his assertion that his tenure at Bain would help him to create jobs as president, insisting his time in private business gave him a unique "understanding of how America works." Obama disputed that claim on Monday, saying that a president's job "is not simply to maximize profits."
"The fact is that I spent 25 years in the private sector. And that obviously teaches you something that you don't learn if you haven't spent any time in the private sector … You learn through life's experience," Romney said, in his first public response to Obama's criticism. "The president's experience has been exclusively in politics and as a community organizer. Both of those are fine areas of endeavor, but right now we have an economy in trouble, and someone who spent their career in the economy is more suited to help fix the economy than someone who spent his life in politics and as a community organizer."
Asked if he "welcomes" scrutiny of his time at Bain, Romney replied, "Well, of course." But, he quickly added, that he "also like to focus" on Obama's record.
"What is it that he's done as the president of the United States over the last four years?" Romney said. "The American people are interested in, not so much in the history of where I was at Bain Capital, or that I have understanding of the private sector, but instead, has the president made things better for the American people? Are they better off than they were four years ago? Has he established the revitalization he promised he would bring to us?"
Asked specifically how his time at Bain qualifies him to be president, Romney insisted his "whole life has been learning to lead." He cited not just his time as head of Bain Capital, but the influence of his parents, his time has head of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and his tenure as governor of Massachusetts.
"Those experiences in totality have given me an understanding of how America works and how the economy works. Twenty-five years in business, including business with other nations, competing with companies across the world, has given me an understanding of what it is that makes America a good place to grow and add jobs, and why jobs leave America -- why businesses decide to locate here, and why they decide to locate somewhere else," Romney said. "I happen to believe that having been in the private sector for 25 years gives me a perspective on how jobs are created that someone who's never spent a day in the private sector, like President Obama, simply doesn't understand."
He accused Obama of "blaming other people for the fact he has been unsuccessful in turning around this economy."
"I think the reason you're seeing across the country people saying they'd like to try someone new, is because they believe this president, while he may be a nice guy, is simply not up to the task of helping guide an economy," Romney told Halperin.
If elected, Romney predicted he could bring down unemployment to at least 6 percent -- "perhaps a little lower."
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