Mitt Romney wants President Obama to apologize for his campaign's suggestion that the Republican candidate could have broken the law by making inaccurate statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Romney told ABC News' Jonathan Karl late this afternoon that Obama should clean up his campaign staff after officials coordinated an effort to imply that Romney committed a felony by saying he left Bain Capital in 1999, though The Boston Globe reported this week that Romney was listed as the company's CEO until 2002 on official files.
"The president needs to take control of these people," Romney said. "He ought to disavow it and rein in these people who are running out of control."
Romney added, "He sure as heck ought to say that he's sorry for the kinds of attacks that are coming from his team."
Romney insisted that he abandoned the private-equity firm he founded to run the Olympics and that, after 1999, he had "no role whatsoever in the management" of Bain even though SEC documents listed him as president, chairman of the board and sole stockholder.
"I left any responsibility whatsoever, any effort, any involvement whatsoever in the management of Bain Capital after February of 1999," Romney said.
Romney didn't answer when he was asked if he thought there was anything wrong with being associated with Bain after 1999, a period that has been the source of Obama's attack ads on Bain-backed companies that either outsourced jobs or went bankrupt.
Obama, himself, told an ABC News affiliate, WJLA in Washington, D.C., that Romney should "absolutely" answer the questions that have been raised about Bain.
"My understanding is that Mr. Romney attested to the SEC, multiple times, that he was the chairman, CEO and president of Bain Capital, and I think most Americans figure if you are the chairman, CEO and president of a company that you are responsible for what that company does," Obama told WJLA. "Ultimately, Mr. Romney, I think, is going to have to answer those questions because, if he aspires to being president, one of the things you learn is you are ultimately responsible for the conduct of your operations. But again, that's probably a question that he's going to have to answer, and I think that's a legitimate part of the campaign."
Romney's campaign has been under siege by both the Obama campaign and media outlets that have obtained records showing Romney's ties to Bain after he ostensibly "left" in 1999. The Washington Post reported that between 1999 and 2001, Romney signed six Bain documents with the SEC.
Though the campaign said Romney didn't "participate" in management decisions during that time, the Boston Herald wrote then that "Romney said he will stay on as a part-timer with Bain, providing input on investments and key personnel decisions. But he will leave running day-to-day operations to Bain's executive committee."
Romney gave five brief interviews to TV networks today in a hastily arranged fashion as the Bain attacks dominated the media narrative, capping a week of bad press for Romney that also included rising calls for him to release more of his tax records.
In each interview, Romney tried to shine the spotlight back on the economy, accusing Obama of diverting attention away from the sputtering recovery by unearthing new attacks.
"Why the president continues, and his people continue, to make these kinds of charges and tried to turn this into something big is clear to the American people," Romney said. "Because the president's failed to do the job that he was elected to do, which was to get this economy turned around."