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Durbin says Romney running from Bain 'like a scalded cat'

Democrats pressed their attack Sunday on Mitt Romney’s record as head of the investment firm Bain Capital in the 1990’s.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the Senate majority whip, asked on NBC’s Meet the Press, “Why is Mitt Romney running away from his company, Bain Capital, like a scalded cat? Because there’s abundant evidence that under Bain Capital they were exporting American jobs to low-wage countries and he doesn’t want to be associated with it.”

Defending Romney’s record at Bain Capital, Romney campaign advisor Ed Gillespie told NBC’s David Gregory that outsourcing – U.S. companies setting up foreign operations to replace operations in the United States – was due partly to President Barack Obama’s policies of imposing “excessive regulations” and maintaining a high corporate tax rate.

Gillespie charged that Obama’s policies are “forcing jobs overseas.”

Gillespie contended that some of the money in the $830 billion stimulus program which Obama signed into law in 2009 was channeled into companies and jobs in China, Finland, Mexico, and Denmark, instead of in the United States.

At the same time, Gillespie did not condemn outsourcing in every instance. He said that Romney believes that “American companies should be free – we have a free economy -- to make decisions that are in the interests of their shareholders, and what we need to do is make those decisions more attractive to invest here in the United States, rather than making it more attractive to go overseas, which is what the Obama policies do.”  

The Obama campaign has spent the past few days accusing Romney of lying after the Boston Globe reported that he’d retained the title of chief executive and chairman of Bain Capital until 2002, three years beyond the date he said he ceded control.

With the Bain issue, the Obama campaign is repeating charges first made against Romney when he ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2002. His Democratic opponent, Shannon O’Brien, accused him of being culpable in layoffs at a Kansas City steel mill that went bankrupt in 2001 after Bain Capital had profited from an investment in the company.

Fortune Magazine reported Thursday that “offering documents” that Bain Capital sent to potential investors in 2000 and 2001 provide contemporaneous evidence that Romney had no active role in managing the firm after 1999 when he left to run the Winter Olympics in Utah.

Romney “took a leave of absence from Bain to go and run the Olympics in Salt Lake City…..The International Olympic Committee was going to pull the Olympics from the United States which would have been a huge embarrassment for our country,” Gillespie said. Romney “left a life that he loved to help a country that he loved even more.”

Stephanie Cutter, Obama’s deputy campaign manager, told reporters Thursday that either Romney had misrepresented his position at Bain in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission “which is a felony, or he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments…”

Durbin sidestepped the question of whether Cutter’s use of the term “felony” was improper; instead the Illinois Democrat said the disclosure documents which Romney and Bain Capital filed with the SEC from 2000 to 2002 were “completely confusing” because they said he was the chief executive of the firm, and yet he has said he was no longer at the firm.

On the question of whether Romney ought to release his tax returns for years before 2010, Gillespie said that two years of returns were sufficient.

He contended that the Obama campaign was using the tax return issue to try to distract voters’ attention from the “dismal” state of the American economy. The real issue, he said, “is what are we going to do to make it where more Americans are filing their incomes taxes because they have a job?” He cited Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing that 23 million Americans are unemployed, underemployed, or have left the work force.