Mitt Romney called Democratic criticism over his record at Bain Capital "misguided" and chided President Barack Obama for approving the attacks while at the same time raising cash from other members of the private equity industry.
In an interview with Hot Air's Ed Morrissey, the presumptive Republican nominee denounced an ad launched this week by the Obama campaign that suggested Romney played a role in the closing of a Missouri steel mill, calling the spot "really off target" and a "distraction."
"They said, 'Oh gosh, Gov. Romney at Bain Capital closed down a steel factory,'" Romney told Morrissey. "Their problem, of course, is that the steel factory closed down two years after I left Bain Capital. I was no longer there, so that's hardly something that should be on my watch."
Romney accused the Obama campaign of ignoring the fact that he created jobs while at Bain and of overlooking jobs lost during Obama's time at the White House, adding that the president is "hardly one to point a finger." The interview marked the first time Romney has commented on the ad, which briefly ran in several swing states earlier this week.
The former Massachusetts governor also implied that Obama was a hypocrite for signing off on the ad, which was released Monday. That same day, the president held a fundraiser at the Manhattan home of Tony James, head of the Blackstone Group, another private equity firm that, Romney noted, he and Bain had "previously made investments with."
"He has no problem going out and doing fundraisers with Bain Capital and private equity people," Romney said of Obama. "The president is just misguided in his effort to try and divide Americans from one another and to try to disparage one part of our economy from the other or one person from another. This is not what America is."
The Obama campaign has defended its Bain ad, insisting even though Romney was not actively engaged on day-to-day business at Bain at the time of the steel company's closing he was still an owner and investor.
"No one is challenging Romney's right to run his business as he saw fit, and no one is questioning the private equity industry as a whole. That's not what this is about," Stephanie Cutter, Obama's deputy campaign manager, told reporters Monday, according to CBS News. "This is about ... the lessons and values Romney drew from his time as a buyout specialist -- what those values are, what they tell us about what type of President Mitt Romney would be, and whether the voters want that in the Oval Office."
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