Last week the presidential race was largely defined by accusations and innuendo from Barack Obama’s camp concerning the departure date of Mitt Romney from Bain Capital, the venture capital firm he founded.
“Questions about Romney's tenure at Bain Capital and the fortune he earned there have dogged the former Massachusetts governor as Obama and his allies have said the Boston-based firm shipped jobs overseas,” the Associated Press reported. “Romney insists he left the company in February 1999 to take over the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, but documents suggest he was still in charge as late as 2001. The exact role Romney played at the firm between 1999 and 2001 is important not only because critics have raised questions about his truthfulness, but also because Bain was sending jobs overseas during that period.”
It may be a new week, but the same storyline remains part of the political news cycle. “‘Bain Capital’ is one of the Top 10 Google searches this morning,” ABC News’ Emily Friedman tweeted Monday. Indeed, a Google Trends graphic illustrates the spike in Google searches for “Bain Capital” in recent days.
The campaigns for President Obama and Gov. Romney both started Monday morning with dueling press releases that assumed diametrically opposite positions over the relevance of the Bain controversy.
“The Romney campaign is sticking with the line that the candidate left in 1999 and had no active relationship with the firm after that point, only an ornamental title,” Politico’s Alexander Burns wrote Monday. “The trouble is that there's a paper trail that, rightly or wrongly, makes that categorical argument difficult to sustain, and gives the Obama team plenty to chip away at.”
Fox News columnist Joe Trippi wrote an op-ed piece Monday that outlines a plan for Romney to swiftly satisfy the public’s desire for information about Bain Capital.
“It's not too late for Romney to save himself,” Trippi wrote. “He can produce the minutes of the Bain Board of Directors Meetings and show that he really wasn’t part of the decision making at the company after February 1999. It should have come as no surprise to Romney and his campaign team that Bain Capital would (be) an issue in the general election in 2012. They knew the attacks would come, yet it appears they didn’t have a plan — other than stonewalling — to deal with them.”
Of course, it would not necessarily be unreasonable for Romney to simply stick with the status quo strategy because as the New York Times noted, No evidence has yet emerged that Mr. Romney exercised his powers at Bain after February 1999 or directed the funds investments after he left. And financial disclosures filed with theMassachusetts ethics commission show that he drew at least $100,000 in 2001from Bain Capital Inc. effectively his own till as a former executive and from other Bain entities as a passive general partner.