Obama, Romney trade accusations of dishonesty
WOLFEBORO, N.H. (AP) — President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney have one campaign strategy in common: Each is trying to convince voters that his opponent in the closely contested race for the White House is not trustworthy.
Romney was wrapping up a weekend at his New Hampshire lake house and planned to raise money on Monday with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal — one possible candidate for his running mate.
Obama was scheduled to campaign in Cincinnati two days before Romney makes his own visit to must-win Ohio.
The two men were set to continue a bitter debate over who is more trustworthy and use Romney's time leading a private equity firm as a starting point.
Romney's campaign said Sunday that Obama is willing to say anything to win a second term and should say he's sorry for attacking the Republican's successful career at Bain Capital.
"No, we will not apologize," the president responded, adding that if Romney wants credit for his business leadership, he also needs to take responsibility. The Obama campaign says that with Romney at the helm, Bain Capital sent thousands of well-paying American jobs to China.
Questions about Romney's tenure at Bain Capital, the fortune he earned there, foreign bank accounts and his refusal to release more of his tax returns have dogged the former Massachusetts governor. Romney insists he left the firm in February 1999 to take over the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, but documents indicate he was still in charge as late as 2001.
Romney's advisers, trying to explain the discrepancies between Romney's account and federal documents, offered fresh explanations to shift the campaign back to more comfortable ground.
"He actually retired retroactively at that point," Romney adviser Ed Gillespie said Sunday. "He ended up not going back to the firm after his time in Salt Lake City. So he was actually retired from Bain."
A second adviser, Kevin Madden, said Romney had no choice but to have his name listed on Security and Exchange Commission documents as he sought to transfer the company's leadership to partners.
"The reason that there is a document that had ... his signature is because, during that transition from 1999 to 2002 ... there was a duty to sign those documents," Madden said.
The exact role Romney played at the firm between 1999 and 2001 is important not only because critics have raised questions about his truthfulness, but also because Bain was sending U.S. jobs overseas during the period.
Documents on file with the SEC place Romney in charge of Bain from 1999 to 2001, a period in which the company outsourced jobs and ran companies that fell into bankruptcy. Romney has tried to distance himself from this period in Bain's history, saying on financial disclosure forms he had no active role in the company as of February 1999.
But at least three times since then, Bain listed Romney as the company's "controlling person," as well as its "sole shareholder, sole director, chief executive officer and president." One of those documents — as late as February 2001 — lists Romney's "principal occupation" as Bain's managing director.
Romney launched a rare, five-network interview blitz on Friday and insisted he was not involved with Bain during the time it sent jobs overseas and had no day-to-day responsibility for the firm.
"I had no role whatsoever in the management of Bain Capital after February of 1999," he said. "I was an owner, and being a shareholder doesn't mean you're running the business."
That wasn't enough for Obama.
"Mr. Romney claims he's Mr. Fix-It for the economy because of his business experience, so I think voters entirely legitimately want to know what is exactly his business experience," Obama told WAVY-TV in Portsmouth, Va., in an interview taped Saturday and posted on the station's website Sunday
"Mr. Romney is now claiming he wasn't there at the time except his filings with the SEC listing says he was the CEO, chairman and president of the company."
Gillespie appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" and CNN's "State of the Union. Madden spoke on CBS' "Face the Nation."