Mitt Romney disputed reports that he worked for Bain Capital longer than he had publicly suggested, insisting Friday he had no role "whatsoever" in managing the company after February 1999 when he left to run the Winter Olympics. Public filings from the company suggest otherwise.
In consecutive interviews with all five television news networks, Romney accused President Barack Obama and his campaign of attacking him on his record at Bain Capital in order to "deflect attention" from Obama's "failed" economic record. And he called on Obama to apologize for the false attacks.
"There is absolutely no evidence that I had any role whatsoever in the management of Bain Capital after February 1999," Romney told ABC News' Jon Karl. "Why the president continues and his people continue to make these kinds of charges and try to turn this into something big is clear, I think, to the American people because the president's failed to do the job he was elected to do which was to get this economy turned around."
Asked by Karl about an Obama campaign aide's assertion that he may have committed a "felony" by leaving his name on Securities and Exchange Commission documents if he didn't work at Bain, Romney called the charge "ridiculous and disturbing" and "beneath the dignity of the president and his campaign."
"The president needs to take control of his people," Romney said, calling the attacks "false and misleading."
On Thursday, the Boston Globe reported that Romney's name remained on several documents Bain had filed with the SEC, including a 2002 filing that described him as the firm's "sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer and president."
Asked why his name remained on documents if he wasn't involved in the company, Romney told ABC that he had "retained ownership" until he and Bain officials could negotiate a departure and retirement package with the company. He told CBS News' Jan Crawford he had the "capacity" to return to Bain if he wanted after the Olympics but chose not to. He told Crawford he didn't "recall even coming back once" for Bain management meetings because he was running the Olympics "full time."
Asked by CNN's Jim Acosta about Democratic pressure for him to release additional tax returns and financial information about his investments overseas, Romney insisted he had "complied with the law" by filing federal financial disclosures and by releasing his 2010 tax returns. He said he would release his full 2011 returns when they are complete and suggested he wouldn't release more.
"That's all that's necessary for people to understand something about my finances," Romney told CNN.
Romney's round of interviews came after days of withering attacks from the Obama campaign on the presumptive Republican nominee's business record and personal finances. For days, the Romney campaign declined to engage the offensive, instead keeping its focus on Obama's handling of jobs and the economy.
But amid criticism from Republicans that Romney was endangering his campaign by ignoring the Obama attacks, the GOP seemed to shift course, releasing a series of TV ads trashing Obama for lying about Romney's record.
On Friday, the campaign scheduled a last-minute round of interviews with Romney in New Hampshire, where the candidate is set to spend this weekend off the campaign trail. In the interviews, Romney tried to shift the attention back to Obama's negative campaigning.
Asked if he believes he's being "swift-boated" by Democrats—a reference to independent attacks on John Kerry during the 2004 campaign—Romney told CNN he "hadn't heard that term." He told Acosta that Obama appears to be employing the "Kill Romney" strategy "they promised," referring to a phrase first floated by Democratic strategists in a Politico story last year.
In nearly all of the interviews, Romney mentioned the phone call he received in May from Obama once he clinched the nomination, telling reporters that Obama had told him he wanted to engage in an "important debate" about the state of the country and said he had "agreed" with the president. He told Fox News' Carl Cameron he found Obama's attacks "very disappointing" and "politics a lot worse than usual."
"(Americans) expected more from this president. He was the one that talked about a post-partisan presidency, changing the way politics works, changing the way Washington works. And I think people assumed he would make it better," Romney said. "But instead, with the kinds of attacks that he's been launching over the last several weeks, he's been making it worse and people recognize that."