President Barack Obama is calling on presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney to answer questions about when exactly he left private equity firm Bain Capital, according to an ABC7 News report released on Friday.
"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 ABC7 in an exclusive interview. The president also said Romney should "absolutely" clarify when he truly relinquished his role at the company, as questions around Romney’s departure from Bain Capital continue to dominate headlines.
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SCOTT THUMAN: What about Bain Capital? It's a big issue for the past 24 hours right now. Mitt Romney's campaign says he left in '99, yours says it's 2000. There's a significant difference. Is he being dishonest with the American public?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, here's what I know, we were just talking about responsibility, and as president of the United States, it's pretty clear to me that I'm responsible for folks who are working in the federal government and, you know, Harry Truman said the buck stops with you.
Now, 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.
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.
SCOTT THUMAN: And you think he should answer that soon?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Yeah, absolutely.
Scrutiny over Romney's departure from Bain Capital escalated on Thursday, when a Boston Globe report indicated Romney may have remained active at the firm until 2002 -- three years later than Romney has maintained throughout his campaign.
The Globe, echoing previous reports from Mother Jones and Talking Points Memo, highlighted SEC filings dated after February 1999, listing Romney as Bain Capital's "sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president."
Both the Romney campaign and Bain Capital refuted the contents of the Globe report.
"The article is not accurate," spokeswoman Andrea Saul told reporters on Thursday in an emailed statement. "As Bain Capital has said, as Governor Romney has said, and as has been confirmed by independent fact checkers multiple times, Governor Romney left Bain Capital in February of 1999 to run the Olympics and had no input on investments or management of companies after that point."
Nonetheless, the uproar has been enough that Romney announced on Friday a blitz of media interviews. The former Massachusetts governor is expected to address the Bain issue in interviews with ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and Fox News.
In the 24 hours since the Globe report was published, more evidence has emerged that Romney's involvement with Bain Capital didn't end in 1999. The Huffington Post obtained testimony from 2002 in which Romney himself admitted to sitting on the board of directors of Bain entity Lifelike Co. He also signed at least six documents that the private equity firm filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission between 1999 and 2001.