Transcript: Romney Responds to Bain Attacks In ABC Interview

Mitt Romney stood by his statement that he left Bain Capital in 1999.

ByABC News
July 13, 2012, 5:51 PM

July 13, 2012 -- JONATHAN KARL: Governor Romney, you have been hammered by the president and by the president's campaign over your time at Bain. In fact, one of his top advisers actually said you might have committed a felony when it comes to the SEC filings about when exactly you turned over the management. I'd like to give you a chance to respond.

ROMNEY: Well, of course, that's ridiculous and disturbing to come from their campaign and beneath the dignity of the president and his campaign. The president needs to take control of these people. The kinds of attacks that they've been making have now been checked time and time again by independent fact checkers.

They've been found to be false and misleading, simply wrong. But they keep on doing everything that they can to deflect attention from the fact that the American people want someone who can help create jobs in this country and get people working again. we've had 41 straight months above 8%. they don't want to talk about that. they don't want to talk about the president's record on the deficit. instead

They want to see if they can't divert to some kind of outrageous charge. It's Chicago-style politics at its worst and the president promised something better than this when he ran the last time. And he ought to disavow it and reign in these people who are running out of control.

KARL: Should the president apologize for what his advisers said about you?

ROMNEY: Well, he's got ads out there that say at the end of the ad that 'I'm Barack Obama and I approve these messages' and he sure as heck ought to say that he's sorry for the kinds of attacks that are coming from his team. It's ah, it's very disappointing on his part. It's beneath the dignity of the presidency of the United States to go out and say the kinds of things that are being said and even Democrats are saying that.

Look, the American people want to know who can get this country working again and can see rising incomes again and finally get our budget on a pathway to become balanced and they are tired of this kind of old style politics and I don't think it's going to work.

KARL: Okay but let me ask you, because a lot of this comes down to exactly when you had responsibility for what regarding Bain. After 1999, you are still listed on SEC document as being quote, "the chairman of the board, the chief executive officer and the president." Don't ultimately you bear responsibility for what happened at the company during that time?

ROMNEY: I left the company in February of 1999, but retained ownership until we were able to negotiate a departure and retirement program from the company. I had no role whatsoever in the management of Bain Capital after February of 1999.

And by the way, the people at the firm said that. Even Democrats in the firm, one of whom ran for U.S. Senate as a Democrat says exactly the same thing and this has been litigated time and time again, independent fact checkers have said the same thing. There's absolutely no evidence that I had any role whatsoever in the management of Bain Capital after February of 1999. It's a great firm. I'm very proud that they've done well. My goodness, I was there for what, 14 years? And then went on to run the Olympics.

And anyone who questions that can look at the fact I spent the next three years full time running the Olympic games and had no involvement with Bain Capital.

KARL: So you bear no responsibility for what happened to that company even though those SEC forms list you as chairman and the chief executive officer and the president of the company?

ROMNEY: The ownership shares of the company were ownership shares which I retained, but when I left Bain Capital in February of 1999, I went out to run the Olympics and said good-bye to my colleagues. They took over the business. They organized new funds for instance and pointed out that who managers were. They don't list me as a manager.

I left any responsibility whatsoever, any effort, any involvement whatsoever in the management of Bain Capital after February of 1999. By the way, there's nothing wrong with the fact that the firm went on and it was a successful enterprise but the honest truth is I went out to run the Olympics in February of 1999 and 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. Because the president's failed to do the job that he was elected to which was to get this economy turned around.

KARL: So you don't disavow what happened at the company, that they may have done things that were wrong, not wrong that you had nothing to do with. would there be something with being associated with Bain Capitol during those years?

ROMNEY: I had no association with the management of Bain Capitol after February of 1999. 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. I had no role with regards to Bain Capital after February 1999.

KARL: So what happened here? This campaign, your private sector experience many thought was going to be your greatest asset in the campaign and so far it has been the thing you have been attacked for most relentlessly.

ROMNEY: Well I think you can expect that the Obama campaign is going to continue to do what they signaled at the very beginning. There was a report that they said that their campaign would be based upon a strategy of "kill Romney' end of quote and that is what they are trying to do as opposed to talking about what is the right direction for this country.

You know the president when he called me and congratulated me on becoming the Republican nominee said we were ready for an important debate about the future of America and that would be beneficial to the country. I agreed with him. But so far we haven't seen any of that from the Obama campaign. All of it is personal attack and one after the other of these attacks have been reviewed by independent fact checkers and found the attacks to be wrong, false, misleading.

This is simply beneath the dignity of the presidency of the United States and if I were president of the United States. I would put a stop to it and apologize to my campaign for what has been done by his.

KARL: I want to ask you about a report that popped up about Condoleezza Rice being near the top of your list of potential running mates. I know you're not talking about the vice presidential search process but just tell me this: you said earlier that your running mate will be pro-life. Do you still stand by that?

ROMNEY: I don't have anything for you on the vice presidential process. I of course stand by the things I have said during the campaign. But I have nothing for you on the VP front.

KARL: Nothing at all? Condoleezza Rice, can you tell us what you think of her? Is she going to be somebody who would have a role in your administration one way or the other?

ROMNEY: Well she's been very helpful to my campaign already with advice on a series of foreign policy matters and I speak with her from time to time or my campaign does. Also secretary Jim Baker. Secretary Henry Kissinger. I've had the chance to speak with a number of people with extensive foreign policy experience. Ambassador John Bolton and I have spoken and met together and so Condoleezza Rice and her view, like these others, are views that I have found very helpful and will continue to avail myself of their expertise.

KARL: We broke a story here at ABC about the Olympic team uniforms being made in China. Few people have closer connections to the Olympics than you, in fact your wife Ann even has a horse in this Olympics. What do you think? should those uniforms be made in the USA?

ROMNEY: You know, I'm not going to weigh in on that. I'm sure the Olympic committee has sponsorship agreements and such that are involved in something of this nature. The Olympic games are about the athletes and we're going to watch the athlete perform and these other matters are extraneous I think to the heart of the matter which is how well will our athletes do? How much can we support them and their effort to bring home the gold.

KARL:Well what about the team riding Ann's horse? Would you encourage them to be wearing made in the USA uniforms?

ROMNEY: I'm not going to get into the uniform issue. There are big issues associated with the Olympics: the security of the games, the readiness of our athletes and that's what I'm going to focus on, hopefully when I get to cheer on the people who are going to be supporting and representing our country.

KARL: Alright, thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

ROMNEY: thank you.

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