Emanuel: Romney made Bain tenure his ‘calling card,’ should ‘stop whining’

Remarks begin at 1:15 mark

Former Obama White House chief-of-staff-turned Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel defended criticisms of Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, saying the GOP candidate had made his work there a “calling card” of his campaign and should “stop whining.”

“Mitt Romney said Bain Capital is his calling card for why he should be president. He doesn't talk about Massachusetts as governor. He doesn't talk about any other piece,” said Emanuel on ABC’s “This Week.” “He says, ‘I created jobs at Bain Capital.’”

Democrats have hit Romney hard on his work at the private equity firm, questioning his role in helping companies shift jobs overseas and also on his personal offshore financial holdings. 


The debate intensified last week after the Obama campaign raised questions over when exactly Romney left Bain. Romney has said he left in 1999 to oversee preparations for the Salt Lake City Olympics, but Securities and Exchange Commission filings show him listed as Bain’s CEO beyond that time. Democrats hope to tie Romney to layoffs by companies owned by Bain after 1999.

Emanuel on Sunday pointed to those SEC documents, which he said raised questions about how Romney would perform if elected president.

“You can't -- as president of the United States you can't have a sign on your desk that says, "Gone fishing." You can't put that on that desk. It's basically the buck stops there,” he said. “You can't say to the SEC, ‘I was the CEO, chairman and president, but I'm not responsible. I'm not accountable.’ That's what he likes you to think.”

Emanuel also defended Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter who last week suggested that Romney might have committed a felony by misrepresenting his tenure at Bain to the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

“Stephanie cited the law, and it's very clear. Either the filing with the SEC is accurate and his personal financial disclosure is not honest, or that's honest and the SEC isn't, but both can't be accurate,” said Emanuel. "Both cannot be accurate depicting a time where he said he was doing one thing or another. It's just not possible.”

“Give it up about Stephanie. Don't worry about that,” he continued. “What are you going to do when the Chinese leader says something to you or Putin says something to you? Going to whine it away? You cannot do that.

“As Mitt Romney said once to his own Republican colleagues, stop whining. I give him his own advice. Stop whining,” he concluded.

Emanuel also repeated Democratic calls for Romney to release more of his tax records after a report in Vanity Fair last week said the GOP candidate had offshore accounts in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. 

“The Romney campaign isn't stupid. They have decided it is better to get attacked on lack of transparency, lack of accountability to the American people versus telling you what's in those taxes,” said Emanuel. 

“His tax filing looks more like the Olympic Village than it does like a middle-class family,” he added.

Emanuel said that Romney’s own handling of his tax situation would help inform voters about how he would handle tax return if elected. 

“The president of the United States is going to have tax reform, and you're going to have to debate it with Congress and shape it. And unless you have his taxes, and I've seen this in the Oval Office… there's going to be times in which a president of the United States has to make tradeoffs and choices,” he said. “Will it be a middle-class family's desired to save to send their kid to college or protecting the loophole in the Cayman Islands? Will it be a middle-class family's desire to get a tax credit for a child and help raise him in a middle-class family, or will we protect the Bahamas, Luxembourg, and Switzerland?”

Romney’s campaign has denied that he placed his money in “tax havens” abroad and said Romney has paid all taxes owed in the U.S. They accuse the Obama campaign of seeking to distract voters from two months of weak jobs growth numbers.

“As the failures of his presidency become more evident, Barack Obama has resorted to the tactics of a typical politician – dishonest and totally unsubstantiated attacks meant to distract from his own record by smearing the reputation of his opponent,” said Romney campaign spokesman Amanda Henneberg, in a statement to The Hill on Saturday. “Americans deserve a president they can trust, and not someone willing to say and do anything to win an election.”