President Barack Obama will not apologize to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for raising questions about his tenure and the timing of his departure from private equity firm Bain Capital, the Democrat said in an interview published on Sunday.
Romney demanded an apology last week after Obama's campaign suggested he may have broken the law by misrepresenting his position at private-equity firm Bain Capital, part of an assault on the former executive's business career and personal wealth that may be hurting him in the polls.
"No, we won't be apologizing," Obama said in an interview with a Virginia television station WAVY.
"Mr. Romney claims that he's Mr. Fix-it for the economy because of his business experience. And so I think voters entirely legitimately want to know, well what exactly was that business experience?" Obama said.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, Obama's former chief of staff, was more succinct.
"Stop whining," Emmanuel said on ABC's "This Week" program. "If you want to claim Bain Capital as your calling card to the White House, then defend what happened at Bain Capital."
Romney has argued that the economic expertise he developed as an investor, manager and consultant make him a better choice than Obama to kick-start an economy that has been slow to recover from the 2007-2009 financial crisis.
But Romney's record at Bain is also shaping up to be something of a liability. Democrats have highlighted companies that went bankrupt or shipped jobs overseas under Bain's ownership to argue that Romney is only concerned with helping his fellow millionaires, not working people.
Romney's campaign has said he should not be held responsible for many of those decisions because they occurred after he took a leave of absence from Bain in February 1999 to oversee the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
But Romney continued to claim in regulatory filings that he was still in charge of Bain through 2002, according to documents that have surfaced over the past week. Bain and Romney officials say it took several years to sort out the terms of his departure but that he was not involved with the company's day-to-day operations during that time.
"He actually retired retroactively at that point. He ended up not going back to the firm after his time in Salt Lake City," Romney senior adviser Ed Gillespie said on NBC's "Meet the Press" program.
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