The elusive truth about Mitt Romney's time at Bain Capital
Mitt Romney's time running Bain Capital has become the focus of charge and counter-charge, raising questions about campaign dishonesty and the candidates' own character as well as calls for apologies.
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Until his run for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, the Globe reported, “Romney had characterized his departure from Bain Capital more as a ‘leave of absence’ in which he would be a ‘part-timer,’ and not as an absolute separation from the thriving business he built and solely owned.... Financial disclosure forms Romney filed in Massachusetts indicate he earned at least $100,000 as a Bain ‘executive’ in 2001 and 2002, separate from investment earnings.”Skip to next paragraph
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Some fact-checking organizations find little evidence that Romney played any direct role in cutting or outsourcing US jobs.
“None of the SEC filings show that Romney was anything but a passive, absentee owner during that time," FactCheck.org asserts. “It should not surprise anyone that Romney retained certain titles while he was working out the final disposition of his ownership, for example.”
That Bain under Romney’s command – he established the firm in 1984 – was a “pioneer” in outsourcing, as the Obama campaign charges, is only “half true,” according to PolitiFact.com’s “truth-o-meter.”
“Outsourcing was well established by the early 1990s, and firms were applying it in a variety of industrial areas,” says PolitiFact. “The Bain companies were among that group.”
But perceptions can be just as important as hard evidence in campaign politics, and critics say Romney’s image here illustrates a fetish for secrecy.
Romney also is under fire for not releasing more than he has of his personal income tax data.
During the Republican primaries and debates, it took pressure by Newt Gingrich and others to get Romney to release his tax returns for just two years.
That’s far fewer than the 23 years he provided Sen. John McCain in 2008 when Romney was being considered as Mr. McCain’s running mate. And as The Washington Post noted this week, “His father, George, released 12 years’ worth of tax returns when he ran for president in 1968, and other top-tier candidates have traditionally taken a similar approach.”
Will any of this make any difference?
The Obama campaign hopes it will as it continues to chip away with new TV ads and statements, and it may be having an effect.
The Pew Research Center reports that despite the stagnant economy and broad dissatisfaction with national conditions,President Obama holds “a significant lead” over Romney – 50 percent to 43 percent among registered voters nationwide.
“The latest national survey … finds that Romney has not seized the advantage as the candidate best able to improve the economy,” Pew reported this week. “In fact, he has lost ground on this issue over the past month.”