By Jonathan Easley - 07/13/12 10:30 PM EDT
Mitt Romney demanded an apology from President Obama over allegations that Romney misled the public over his tenure at Bain Capital, declaring that he had “no role whatsoever in managing Bain Capital after 1999.”
“He sure as heck ought to say that he’s sorry for the kinds of attacks that are coming from his team,” Romney told ABC News on Friday. “If I were president of the United States I would put a stop to it and apologize to my campaign for what has been done by his.”
The presumptive GOP nominee echoed his message on other networks, telling Fox News: Obama "really needs to rein in his team and finally take responsibility for what they’re saying."
The former Massachusetts governor stated firmly that he had no involvement with the day-to-day management of Bain after 1999.
“There’s nothing wrong with being associated with Bain Capital, of course,” Romney told CNN. “But I had no role whatsoever in the management of Bain Capital after 1999.”
“There's a difference between being a shareholder, an owner if you will, and being someone who's managing an entity,” Romney added.
The Obama campaign has been pressuring Romney over a report in the Boston Globe that questioned when Romney severed ties with Bain Capital, arguing that he should be responsible for the firm's actions — including aiding in the offshoring of American jobs — during that period. Romney said he left the firm in February 1999 to run the Salt Lake Olympics but the Globe report, citing Securities and Exchange Commission documents, claimed Romney managed the firm beyond that time.
Obama turned up the heat on Friday in an interview with ABC affiliate WJLA-TV that aired just prior to Romney’s interviews.
“My understanding is that Mr. Romney attested to the SEC, multiple times, that he was the chairman, CEO and president of Bain Capital,” Obama said. “I think most Americans figure if you are the chairman, CEO and president of a company that you are responsible for what that company does.”
Obama also tried to shift the conversation from the specifics of the controversy to make it one of personal responsibility.
“Ultimately Mr. Romney, I think, is going to have to answer those questions, because if he aspires to being president one of the things you learn is, you are ultimately responsible for the conduct of your operations,” Obama added. “But again that’s probably a question that he’s going to have to answer and I think that’s a legitimate part of the campaign.”
Romney's campaign has struggled to put to rest questions about when his tenure at Bain ended as the stories have had a snowball effect and detracted from the presumptive GOP nominee's main message, on the economy.
Although both Romney and Bain have said that he left in 1999 to head the Salt Lake City Olympics — and no evidence has yet emerged to show that the Republican hopeful was involved in the day-to-day management of the firm — filings with the SEC show that Romney maintained the title of president and CEO.
Romney’s campaign has argued that the signed documents were a technicality due to the complexity of unwinding such a complicated endeavor, and said the documents didn’t indicate that the former Massachusetts governor had any involvement with day-to-day investment decisions.
"When you have other people who are managing the enterprise, who take responsibility for all the investment decisions, who decide who's going to get hired and fired, who decide compensation decisions, they're the managers, they're the people running the business," Romney told CBS News. :I left the business and went off to run the Olympics, did that full time and after three years, when the Olympics were over, we arranged my departure officially from a retirement standpoint."
Romney also blasted Obama’s deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, for insinuating earlier in the week that Romney might have committed a felony by signing the documents.
“Is that really what’s expected for the campaign of a sitting president of the United States to say of the Republican nominee?,” Romney asked on CNN. “Is this the level the campaign is willing to stoop to?”
Friday’s interviews, which were recorded earlier in the day and ran nearly simultaneously, were Romney's first with network newscasts since a June appearance on CBS's "Face the Nation," which was the Republican hopeful's first appearance on a non-Fox News Sunday show this election cycle. Since effectively clinching the nomination, he had only conducted one other network news interview, a sit-down with ABC's Diane Sawyer.
— This story was updated at 6:43 p.m.