Mitt and Ann Romney appeared on Piers Morgan's show this Thursday evening and when asked about his time at Bain Capital, Romney's response was to claim that people just want to demonize "success," or in other words, those people who are jealous just hate me because I'm rich. Sorry Mitt, but it's not a matter of whether you have a lot of money or not. It's a matter of how you acquired it.
People who've had their jobs, or their friends, family and neighbors' jobs shipped overseas aren't going to be particularly enamored with someone who made their fortune squeezing every dime they could get out of companies for their profit, with no regard for the circumstances the employees found themselves in once you made your money for yourself and your investors.
And as Donna Brazile wrote about this interview, sometimes facts about how you conducted your business and whether you've been honest with the public matter as well: Mitt Romney vs. stubborn facts:
John Adams once said, "facts are stubborn things." These days, another Massachusetts politician has found that saying to ring especially true. While it's still unclear how Mitt Romney can be the CEO, chairman, president and sole shareholder of Bain Capital, a company that he claims no responsibility for, it's become increasingly evident that candidate Romney simply doesn't want to talk about the facts of his business record. In an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan, Romney suggested that to question his experiences is to "attack success." If this is the case, and if we're also not supposed to talk above a whisper about Mitt's record as governor, including his signature accomplishment in health care reform, then which parts of his biography remain on the table?
Romney clearly prefers his largely undisclosed experiences in the private sector over his publicly poor record in Boston. At every turn, Romney and his campaign have attempted to steer the discussion toward business matters for just this reason.
But when the Washington Post took him up on it last month and published an article headlined "Romney's Bain Capital invested in companies that moved jobs overseas," the Romney campaign was caught flatfooted. The Post found that Bain Capital, the firm Romney spent much of his professional life building up, had invested in companies that had not only shipped jobs overseas -- a practice of some concern to working- and middle-class Americans -- but had pioneered the practice. Read on...
Transcript via CNN below the fold.
MORGAN: Now, Ann, the good news is that according to the latest polls, on the economy, 51 percent of Americans trust your husband more than Barack Obama who gets 41 percent. The bad news is on likability, 60 percent like Barack Obama and only 30 percent like Mitt Romney.
You're one of the people who would tick both boxes clearly. You think he's right for the economy and he's likable. What are you going to do about making Americans like Mitt more?
A. ROMNEY: I don't know about that one. But, you know, the 51 percent we need to obviously get that to about 78 percent. I mean about who's best to handle the economy. And I think at the end of the day that is what people are going to really feel confident about, where they're going to go on the ballot because this economy is just sputtering along. We're even worried that it's going to go into another recession right now.
And, you know, they're going to have to trust and believe that this is the guy that's going to get the job done and get the jobs back. And they're going to -- they're going to have to make that decision about an economic decision. Now, I'll work as hard as I can on the likability piece. Because that's wrong, too. You know, he -- MORGAN: But he seems a perfectly likable chap to me. I don't understand it.
A. ROMNEY: Yes. We'll get over that one.
MORGAN: On the economy, clearly Barack Obama has decided your weakness, your vulnerability, is your record at Bain Capital. And it's a very divisive issue. And quite a fascinating issue because when I look at some of these attack ads, it's almost like he's attacking you for being successful and rich which is not a traditional area of battleground to an American from an American because America was founded on working hard, achievement, success, and making money.
How do you feel about the way that you're being attacked in that way?
M. ROMNEY: Well, I think there are attacks coming for being successful. Their efforts to try and minimize people that have been able to build businesses and be successful, I think we as a society have long encouraged our kids to do well in school. We've encouraged people to get promotions at work. To work harder and do better and better.
We value people who take an individual initiative to start a business and build it. And I'm proud of the fact that at Bain, the consulting firm, which I helped lead in a time of trouble, and also Bain Capital, which I helped found and helped built, I'm proud of the fact that we were able to strengthen enterprises that now employ a lot of people.
We were able to invest the money of pension funds and charities. That's what Bain Capital did. It wasn't our money. It was other people's money. We were hired to invest. We invested it well. And we were able to invest in some businesses which grew and thrived. Some of which have thousands upon thousands of employees. This is a very exciting thing. And a very positive part of my record. Really at this stage, the key is who can get the economy going. Who knows something --
MORGAN: Do you accept, do you accept that when you're running a company like Bain that was hugely successful, no one disputes that, you're going in, taking over companies, either you're investing in them as start-ups or as it turned out to be a more leveraged buyout situation. You go in and you give them your expertise. I think your preferred way was to keep the existing CEOs and incentivize them to do better with your help. And some succeeded. Some failed.
People have tried to portray you as a kind of ruthless money machine who some failed, some succeeded, you didn't care, you still got your fees or you made a ton of money. But actually quite a few of the companies that failed a lot of people lost their jobs, their livelihoods, and lost money.
To me, the key question is, do you know instinctively from your recollections how many of those companies that you went into would have failed anyway if you hadn't?
M. ROMNEY: Well, there's no question but that a number of places where we went in and invested we were investing in enterprise that was in trouble. That -- where the future was very much in doubt for it. And we invested in one business. I think it lost 50 or 60 or more million dollars the year before we invested. And A lot of people didn't want to touch it.
And we were able to go in there with the current management team. Help get the business back on track. As an investor, the managers really ran it. But they were able to turn it around and see a real success. And it's still around today, doing quite well. And provides jobs for a lot of people.
The idea that somehow making a business profitable is different than helping people is really a foreign idea. Because the whole American free enterprise system is associated with creating success, making businesses profitable. That means they can hire more people and grow. And every investment that I made while I was responsible for an investment firm, every investment was designed to try and help the business grow and to become more successful.
It killed us if something was not successful. If a business we started, for instance, couldn't make it, and there were several like that, but there were several that took off in ways we never would have imagined. There were other businesses that were existing businesses. We wanted to make better. Most of them we did make better. Those that we didn't, we felt terrible about. By the way we lost money. Investors money.
We became investors ultimately in our -- in our career. We lost our own money in some of these cases. But the key was we wanted all of them to be successful. That's the nature, by the way, of the free enterprise system. Not everything you invest in is successful. Hopefully most are. And as the people who invested with us, the pensions and charities and college endowments and investors with us know most of our work was successful.
MORGAN: Ann, how do you feel about being married to a man who is clearly very successful, made a lot money for the family, things that normally are applauded in America by other Americans. They say good, good on him. But they're trying to position this now as a negative against him. Trying to position you and your family as too rich, out of touch with the average Americans. Ruthless businessman. All that kind of thing.
You've lived and worked alongside Mitt all that time. How do you feel about that?
A. ROMNEY: Well, I think the whole piece that is missing is, again where Mitt is coming from and what motivates him and what really drives him. And if you look at what really drives him, it's compassion. It's caring for others. And for me it's an irony that they're trying to attack him on -- in an area where he's actually shines the brightest. And I don't think that's an area where people would ever understand that. I don't think there are many people that would have been in mitt's position having been a very successful company making a lot of money and really walked away from it and gone and done something as risky as running the Salt Lake games and taking no salary for three years. I don't think there are many people that would sign up for that. And that --
MORGAN: Presumably, he could have made a lot more money if he just stayed at Bain, right?
A. ROMNEY: Absolutely, would have been a lot different.
MORGAN: I mean I heard --
A. ROMNEY: But --
MORGAN: Everyone of the other partners is a billionaire. You must feel like you've missed out.
M. ROMNEY: I can't characterize how well they've done but they've done a lot better than I did. But I went on and did something which I cared very deeply about. And then ran for governor of Massachusetts and made a contribution there. And I'm doing this now.
A. ROMNEY: And that --
M. ROMNEY: Because I care about the country.
A. ROMNEY: And I think -- I wouldn't have traded that for any amount of money in the world. What the experience we had. And that is what is so wonderful.
MORGAN: Does this really annoy you that that's what people think you're all about, the Romneys?
M. ROMNEY: Piers --
MORGAN: I mean you --
M. ROMNEY: Piers, there are people who are trying to attack success and are trying to attack our success. That's not going to be successful. When you attack success, you have less of it. And that's what we've seen in our economy over the last few years. Dividing America based on who has money and who hasn't. Who is successful and who is less successful. That is not the American way. We're a nation -- you know, I heard Marco Rubio the other day, he said, you know, we were poor living in Miami. We saw these big homes. Across town. My parents never said to us, gee, why don't those people give some of what they had?
They said, instead, aren't we lucky to live in a country --
M. ROMNEY: -- where with education and hard work we might be able to achieve that ourselves? We're an achievement celebrating, oriented nation. That's what lifted us and will continue to do so and the attacks that come by people who are trying to knock down my business career or my Olympic experience or our success, those attacks are not going to be successful.
People want more success. They don't want -- want less success.