WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says he will not apologize to likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for an aide’s comment last week that false filings to a government regulator could bring a felony charge.
“No. We will not apologize,” Obama said in an interview taped Saturday with WAVY-TV in Portsmouth, Va., and posted on the station’s website Sunday. “Mr. Romney claims he’s Mr. Fix-it for the economy because of his business experience, so I think voters entirely legitimately want to know what is exactly his business experience.”
Obama spent two days campaigning in tightly contested Virginia last week, reminding voters of the discrepancies between Securities and Exchange Commission filings and Romney’s recollection of his role at Bain Capital. Obama’s deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, suggested Thursday Romney might be guilty of a felony for misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC.
Both sides lobbed salvoes on the Sunday talk shows, with Obama surrogates insisting that Romney’s role at Bain tells voters how he will address the tax code if elected, and Romney’s stand-ins saying the attacks were undignified.
“We now know that this president will say or do anything to keep the highest office in the land even if it means demeaning the highest office in the land,” Ed Gillespie, Mitt Romney’s campaign adviser, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Cutter, appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” said the former Massachusetts governor should heed the advice he gave his opponents in the GOP primary and “stop whining.”
Romney’s campaign released a new television ad on Sunday asking why the president had stopped talking about hope and change, his signature message during the 2008 campaign, and criticizing him for a barrage of negative ads against Romney.
The Romney release comes a day after Obama began running an ad mocking Romney singing “America the Beautiful” as image after image ties Romney to Bain and U.S. jobs lost overseas and to personal foreign investments.
The Obama campaign is questioning whether Romney was at the helm of the Boston-based private equity firm when it sent jobs overseas, allegations that “independent fact checkers have said are not true, they’re indeed a lie,” Ed Gillespie, a campaign adviser to Romney, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Cutter said Romney can’t have it both ways.
“Either you’re the CEO, president, chairman of the board of Bain Capital as you attest to the SEC or he’s telling the American people he bears no responsibility for that. Both those things can’t be true. Either you’re in charge or you’re not,” Cutter said Sunday.
The documents place Romney in charge of Bain from 1999 to 2001, a period in which the company outsourced jobs and ran companies that fell into bankruptcy. Romney has tried to distance himself from this period in Bain’s history, saying on financial disclosure forms he had no active role in Bain as of February 1999.
But at least three times since then, Bain listed Romney as the company’s “controlling person,” as well as its “sole shareholder, sole director, chief executive officer and president.” And one of those documents — as late as February 2001 — lists Romney’s “principal occupation” as Bain’s managing director.
Romney did five interviews with evening cable and network news shows Friday so people would know “he’s not a felon,” Gillespie quipped Sunday. Romney also demanded an apology during the interviews.
“Instead of whining about what the Obama campaign is saying,” Cutter said, “why don’t you just put the facts out there and let people decide instead of trying to hide them? If he didn’t gain advantages, then show us, show the American people. What is it you’re hiding?”