ABC News' Emily Friedman (@EmilyABC) reports:
Mitt Romney stopped this morning in Concord, N.H., to speak with employees at the Lincoln Financial Group about jobs and the economy, a typical event for the campaign of a business-minded Republican as of late except for one catch: the financial group was bailed out by TARP – the 2008 Wall Street bailout.
Lincoln Financial Group – which is also known as Lincoln National Corporation – received $950 million from TARP, according the U.S. Treasury Department. Lincoln Financial has since paid the money back in full.
TARP, the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program signed in 2008 to prevent the economy from collapsing, is one of several issues Romney critics point to when trying to peg him as a flip-flopper.
Romney, who has been touting his business background on the trail, has a complicated record when it comes to TARP, made even more so by his adamant opposition to the bailout of the auto industry that used TARP funds. Romney has gone on the record several times in the past saying that he’d like to see TARP shutdown and that he thinks bailouts like TARP should alarm Americans, but his campaign says it’s not that simple.
A source close to the Romney campaign told ABC News that the venue for today’s campaign stop was “not an issue” and added that Romney never opposed TARP to begin with.
The Romney campaign says that while Romney doesn’t oppose TARP itself – he thinks it was right for the country at the time – he does believe it was poorly executed.
But it is Romney's complicated – and sometimes downright contradictory – record on issues like TARP, abortion rights and health care that could cast a shadow on the presidential hopeful as he continues to shake off the perception that he's gone back and forth on the main issues a few too many times.
He has come under fire from fellow Republicans for his support of the Wall Street bailout. Romney’s record as a moderate has at least one conservative Republican, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, teasing his own presidential bid.
“I've taken issue with several of [Romney’s] positions, including his support for the Wall Street bailout, [his position on] climate change, and obviously for Romneycare in Massachusetts,” McCotter said this month on the ABC politics program “Top Line.”
“I do not subscribe to the theory that somehow he has been vindicated. And I don't think anyone in my district thinks going bankrupt would have been better, and leaving that $700 billion on Wall Street, where they caused the problem, would have been better.”