UPDATE (4:00 p.m. ET): Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades shot back at the Obama campaign with a scalding statement. Rhoades was specifically referring to Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter’s implication that Romney could have committed a felony if he lied on SEC filings. Here’s the statement:“President Obama’s campaign hit a new low today when one of its senior advisers made a reckless and unsubstantiated charge to reporters about Mitt Romney that was so over the top that it calls into question the integrity of their entire campaign. President Obama ought to apologise for the out-of-control behaviour of his staff, which demeans the office he holds. Campaigns are supposed to be hard fought, but statements like those made by Stephanie Cutter belittle the process and the candidate on whose behalf she works.”
ORIGINAL POST: The Obama campaign just slammed Mitt Romney as the “most secretive” presidential candidate since Richard Nixon, saying Romney was “misrepresenting” his time at Bain Capital.
The campaign made the heavy remarks during a conference call responding to a Boston Globe report that shed new light on when Romney actually left Bain Capital and why it matters.
At issue are conflicting reports as to when Romney “left” Bain Capital and ceased to have an active role in managing the company. If it was 1999, some of the Obama campaign’s attacks lose a lot weight on Bain’s dealings with bankrupted companies and companies that outsourced some jobs. If it was 2002, as the Obama campaign has said, then they gain more credibility.
The conference call, which lasted longer than normal and featured more than 100 reporters, touched on the major themes that the Obama campaign has pushed in the past week. In light of the new report, the campaign painted Romney as secretive and claimed the report vindicated its attack ads on some of Bain’s dealings during the 1999-2002 period.
“He is legally responsible for everything that happened” during the 1999-2002 period at Bain, said Ben LaBolt, the Obama campaign press secretary.
Stephanie Cutter, Obama’s deputy campaign manager, said that Romney was “misrepresenting” his time at Bain to either the SEC or to the American people. She implied that the first could be a felony.
“If he was lying to the American people, that’s a real character and trust issue,” she said.
The Romney campaign has already brushed away the Globe report. Earlier this morning, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said the report was “not accurate.”
“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,” Saul said.
But it seems like the Obama campaign might know more than they’re letting on. Obama campaign lawyer Bob Bauer’s response to whether there was proof that Romney still actively participated in Bain dealings post-1999 sounded rather foreboding.
“I would stay very much tuned on that,” Bauer said.
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