Stephanie Cutter Hits Romney Campaign for 'Retroactive' Retirement Remarks
After Romney adviser Ed Gillespie came on CNN this weekend and claimed that Mitt Romney had "retired retroactively" from Bain Capital, the Obama campaign has continued to hit back hard at this nonsense. As Obama campaign adviser Stephanie Cutter explained to Wolf Blitzer, when your name in on the letterhead and you're drawing a salary from the company, it's a hard sell to most Americans that you're not responsible for that company's business dealings.
The Obama campaign has not backed down since Romney and his surrogates started whining and demanding they apologize for pointing out the fact that lying to the SEC is indeed a felony. It's about time we saw some spine from a Democratic campaign instead of them caving to the naysayers. I think Cutter has learned all to well from watching what they did to John Kerry years ago and isn't going to allow that to happen again this time around.
They've put Mitt Romney on his heels and they need to leave him there from now until the election and ignore the media or the pundits screaming about how mean they're being. Romney's been lying like a rug from the day he started campaigning and hasn't been called out for it. He's got everything coming they can dish out at him and then some.
And not everyone is keeping their powder dry as the Obama campaign has been when it comes to whether Romney committed a felony on his financial disclosure form. Andrew Sullivan just came straight out and accused Romney of lying and committing perjury: Yes, Romney Perjured Himself:
The claim that he committed a felony by falsely reporting his role at Bain Capital under oath is what has really gotten under Romney's skin. But it seems pretty clear to me that he signed a federal financial disclosure form, under the penalty of perjury, saying he had not been involved "in any way" with Bain after he left for Utah in February 1999. That's a strong statement. And it is directly undercut by Romney's own statement in his 2002 attempt to prove residency to run for governor: [...]
So the question of whether Romney committed a felony in his financial disclosure form is a very real one - because Romney and Romney's lawyer provide the strongest evidence that it was perjury. Now we have more contemporaneous evidence that Romney perjured himself: [...]
If there was a good deal of time back and forth in the first few months and some business conducted all the way through to December ("pretty much exclusively"), and if Romney's own lawyer tells an inquiry that Romney's work for Bain "continued unabated just as they had," then it is incontrovertibly true that Romney's statement under oath that he was not involved "in any way" in Bain business after February 1999 was a lie under oath.
I thought Republicans cared about perjury when it comes to high office. I mean, they impeached a sitting president for it. But their current candidate is an obvious perjurer and thereby a felon. How long will it take before this sinks in?
That's going to leave a mark. Romney just continues to get hammered by all sides and I don't see any sign of it letting up any time soon.
Transcript below the fold.
BLITZER: Mitt Romney's waiting for an apology from the Obama campaign. He's upset with their accusation he potentially could have committed a felony because documents listen him as CEO Bain Capital after he says he actually left the firm.
Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter started raising some of those questions last Thursday. She's joining us now from Chicago.
Stephanie, thanks so much for coming.
STEPHANIE CUTTER, OBAMA DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Hey, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Let me play what generated all the commotion, and then I'm going to play the Mitt Romney response. What he said today on FOX. First you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
CUTTER: Either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature, was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony, or he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think when people accuse you of crime, you have every reason to go after them pretty hard. And I'm going to continue going after him. I'm very proud of the record I had in my business career, helping turn around the Olympics as the governor of the state of Massachusetts. What does it say about a president whose record is so poor that all he can do in his campaign is attack me?
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BLITZER: All right. Go ahead and explain, Stephanie, why did you bring up the whole issue of a felony.
CUTTER: Well, Wolf, I'll just repeat what I said the other day that either Mitt Romney was attesting to something that is true to the SEC, that he was the CEO, chairman, president and sole owner of Bain Capital or he's misrepresenting his time at Bain Capital to the American people.
Because both of those things that can't be true. If you're signing federal documents that aren't actually true, it's a felony. But that doesn't -- we're not saying Mitt Romney of committing a crime here.
We're actually saying that he's misrepresenting his time at Bain to the American people. Look at all the news that has come out over the weekend, not from us, but from independent news sources. That he was appearing in press releases after the time he said he left Bain Capital.
That he was getting a salary at a time he was supposed to have a leave of absence. I mean, I don't know about you, Wolf, but when I take a leave of absence from an organization, my paycheck gets cut off and I certainly don't share in the profits.
And then over the weekend, you know, all of a sudden this word retroactive comes up. That he retroactively retired from Bain after he signed his retirement agreement in 2002.
So it took three years to figure out that he actually retired and they want to make it retroactive back in 1999. That's just not how the real world works.
You know, he's used Bain Capital as his calling card in this presidential election, as his sole qualification to be in the oval office and to fix the economy.
It's amazing how quickly he's running away from it. You should stand up and say, I take responsibility.
BLITZER: But you're not suggesting that he potentially may have committed a crime.
CUTTER: No, absolutely not. I'm just saying that his explanation doesn't add up that either you were the chairman, CEO, president, sole owner of a company.
As you're signing your own John Hancock to the SEC, which makes you responsible for that company and everything that that company does or you had nothing to do with it.
Both of those things can't be true. And I think that, you know, day by day, there's more evidence he was actually involved in Bain Capital. I mean, if you're getting a salary, sharing in the profits, and your name is at the top of the letterhead, it seems like you're pretty involved.
BLITZER: Because he says he was working full time trying to get the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City off the ground. For all practical purposes, he gave up day-to-day responsibilities he had at Bain Capital even though his name may have appeared on letterheads or press releases or whatever. He really had no direct role in any of those decisions after he left in February of 1999.
CUTTER: Yes, I'm familiar with his talking points. But in what world, Wolf, that if you're the chairman, CEO, president, sole owner of a company are you not responsible, even if you're not involved to the day-to-day management.
And he was chairman of the board. He didn't resign as chairman of board so did he ever attend any board meetings, by conference call, call-in.
You know, he said he did go to Massachusetts during that time to participate in board meetings and go to business meetings. Was it ever -- did it include Bain?
Because that answer hasn't come from the campaign yet, we're waiting for that. But whether he was doing the day-to-day management of not, he was the head of that firm. He was the chairman, CEO, president.
And as such, if you're legally responsible then you should just stand up and take responsibility for the decisions that are being made.
BLITZER: I just want to be surprise on this, the use of the word felony in that initial statement, no regret?
CUTTER: No, absolutely not. It's a fact. If you're signing federal documents knowing them to be false, it's a felony. Anybody who works in the federal government knows that. Anybody who's been involved in the business world knows that.
But what we're actually suggesting is that he was the head of the firm when he was telling the SEC was true and he's misrepresenting his record with Bain to the American people. That's what we're saying here.
BLITZER: Stephanie Cutter joining us from Chicago, appreciate it very much.
CUTTER: Thank you, Wolf.
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