Ed Schultz, MSNBC: "Now the Romney campaign wants President Obama to apologize for Stephanie Cutter's remarks, you heard earlier, we played on that conference call about Mitt Romney either being a liar or a potential felon. Will there be an apology?"
Ben LaBolt, Obama campaign press secretary: "There won't be. You know, Mitt Romney has been telling voters, since he ran for office in Massachusetts, that he left Bain in 1999. And the Boston Globe reported today that that wasn't true.
Actually, that's not what the Boston Globe reported, and Romney's long-standing explanation for these events has been confirmed by multiple fact-checkers, as well as contemporaneous reporting -- including stories from the Boston Globe. As we've established, the Obama campaign certainly understands the difference between titular ownership and participation in the managerial process. They haven't even attempted to offer any evidence that Romney was running Bain after 1999, because no such evidence exists. The Republican was off in Utah working 80-to-100-hour weeks to (successfully) save the Winter Olympics. What Team O is doing here is glorying in their own lies, even (especially?) after they've been widely and scrupulously debunked. The message is simple: "We are going to do and say whatever the hell we want to damage our opponent, and we think we're going to get away with it." To make this point crystal clear, they've rolled out a new ad repeating the lie that independent analysts have just spent the last 30 hours picking apart. This is what we call tripling down:
Every last element of this ad is untrue. First, Mitt Romney does deny that he shipped jobs overseas. That's the whole point of this multi-week spat. The Obama campaign has surely been making the claim over and over and over again, but Romney has denied it at every turn. And guess what? Mitt Romney is right. The Washington Post gave Obama 'Four Pinocchios' for his team's original claims, and FactCheck.org affirmed that there is "no evidence" to support the accusations. Second, there are no "newly disclosed" documents that disprove, or even disrupt, Romney's assertions on his Bain timeline. The very newspaper that ran the story cited in the new spot addressed this exact controversy ten years ago when Massachusetts Democrats were launching similar attacks (more on this later):
BOSTON GLOBE IN 2002: “Is it accurate? Romney's investment firm, Bain Capital, bought a majority stake in GS Technologies in 1993. Last year, with Bain still in control, the company filed for bankruptcy and Bain announced it would close the company's Kansas City steel rod plant, which employed 750 people. But Romney was not at Bain when the decision to close the plant was made: He left in 1999 to help organize the Olympics, though he was still signing official SEC documents as the company's president and CEO.
So the Globe story was not "new" or "evidence." Yesterday was Romney's "turn" to explain, and he did. The fact-checkers agreed with him. But Chicago pumped out a new attack ad anyway. For what it's worth (precious little to Captain HopenChange and his minions, evidently), there are additional facts on this front. The Washington Post's fact-checker awarded Obama 'Three Pinocchios' for the "felony" allegation today, reasserting its previous rulings on this Groundhog Day controversy:
As we wrote yesterday, we are standing with our assessment that Mitt Romney left the helm of Bain Capital in 1999, when he departed to run the Salt Lake City Olympics. The date is important because some questionable investments by Bain took place between 1999 and 2002, when he ran for governor. But a Boston Globe article on Thursday raised new questions about that timeline, citing SEC filings, and the Obama campaign jumped to take advantage of it. Despite the furor, we did not see much new in the Globe article. We had examined many SEC documents related to Romney and Bain in January, and concluded that much of the language saying Romney was “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president” was boilerplate that did not reveal whether he was actually managing Bain at the time. (For instance, there is no standard definition of a “chief executive,” securities law experts say, and there is no requirement for anyone to have any responsibilities even if they have that title.)
The Obama campaign is blowing smoke here.We realize that Bauer gets to the word “criminal” by mentioning “investigation,” but that distinction might be lost on most listeners. Meanwhile, the weight of evidence suggests that Romney did in fact end active management of Bain in 1999. He stated that in a federal disclosure form he signed, under threat of criminal penalties. He said he was a “former employee” in a state disclosure form. A state commission concluded 10 years ago that he did, indeed, leave Bain in 1999. Investors in Bain funds were told he was not part of the management team. We were tempted to award this claim Four Pinocchios, but the documents with his signature leave some room for inquiry. But, overall, they shrink in importance to the other evidence cited above. (Our colleagues at FactCheck.Org also reaffirmed their similar conclusion.) Still, if the Obama campaign wants to put its money where its mouth is, it should immediately lodge a complaint about Romney’s financial disclosure form, filed just last year, rather than try to mislead people about potential violations in relatively unimportant SEC documents. Three Pinocchios.
Here's one more interesting and telling nugget WaPo raised:
Let’s also not forget that Massachusetts Democrats tried to keep Romney off the ballot in the 2002 governor’s race on the grounds that he had been living and working in Utah, even paying taxes there, and thus had failed to meet the requirement to have lived seven consecutive years in Massachusetts. The effort failed, but not after Democrats waged an expensive, months’ long battle to prove he worked so much on the Olympics that he was in effect a citizen of Utah.
Democrats in 2002: Romney was so involved with the Salt Lake City Olympics that he should be considered a resident of Utah, and therefore ineligble to run for governor! Democrats in 2012: Romney was actually running his business is Massachusetts the whole time, and his "outsourcing" after 1999 should prevent him from becoming president! It's impressive how the same political party can seize upon the same time period in Mitt Romney's life to bludgeon him for two explicitly contradictory reasons without any sense of shame. Finally, here's CNN reporting that Romney is telling the truth about his Bain departure, effectively invalidating three full rounds of Obama's negative ads, including the one embedded above:
Note well that two overt, "active" Obama supporters at Bain have independently confirmed Mitt Romney's veracity in all of this, even though they want him to lose the election. Which reminds me: Hasn't a certain sitting president raked in major donations from Bain employees? Maybe Obama would have preferred in-kind donations instead, in the form of lying on his behalf about Mitt Romney's hasty exit in 1999, to provide some cover for his discredited attacks. Oh well -- the cash will have to suffice.
UPDATE - Some prominent Democrats are starting to feel queasy over the Obama campaign's unhinged, unsubstantiated "felony" language:
One wonders what "a lot too far" might look like. Meanwhile, the Romney campaign passes along this montage of Obama campaign officials getting raked over the coals for peddling untrue attacks; bear in mind that these confrontations all occurred before Team O released their latest "triple down" ad. Shamelessness on parade:
Kudos to CNN, Fox News, MSNBC (!), ABC News, and CBS News for shooting straight on this so far. The unanimity of calumny demonstrates how incontrovertible the evidence against Obama really is.