Obama calls for scrutiny of Romney's time at Bain Capital

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney
President Barack Obama, left, and Mitt Romney
AP Photo

(CBS News) There's one issue that seems to move the needle for President Obama in this neck-and-neck race - it's what Bain Capital did when Mitt Romney was in charge. It's the best weapon his campaign has in their arsenal. So, when a new twist on the story emerged Thursday, the Obama campaign was all over it.

In an exclusive interview with Charlie Rose Thursday, President Obama said that Romney's time at Bain Capital deserves further scrutiny.

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Rose asked, "Do you believe there's anything about his experience at Bain that should be called into question?"

Mr. Obama replied, "Well, I think that when you run for president, everything's called into question. When you're president, everything's called into question."

And the question the Obama campaign is now asking is whether Romney remained in charge of Bain Capital while the firm invested in companies that sent jobs overseas and after he had left in 1999 to take charge of the winter Olympics.

New reports show that Romney remained the sole owner and chief executive officer of Bain through 2002.

In a conference call with reporters, deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter all but called Romney a liar, saying, "Either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the (Securities Exchange Commission), which is a felony. Or, he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people..."

A Romney spokesperson hit back, saying Romney, "..had no input on investments or management of companies..." after he left in 1999, and said, "President Obama ought to apologize for the out-of-control behavior of his staff, which demeans the office he holds."

For weeks, the Obama campaign and its supporters have been attacking Romney on this issue, spending millions on ads in swing states where voters have suffered from the outsourcing of jobs - a tactic they believe is working.

The Romney campaign responded Thursday with an ad of their own that says, "The Obama outsourcing attacks: misleading, unfair and untrue. When a president doesn't tell the truth, how can we trust him to lead?"

The Romney campaign has been fighting back, they've called the charge a new low. They've got a new ad out that quotes candidate Obama in 2008 as deploring scare tactics and says "We expect more from the president." But the Obama campaign is doubling down, coupling this with renewed demands that Romney release multiple years of tax returns, instead of just the one year he's provided.

To watch Bill Plante's full report, click on the video in the player above.

  • Bill Plante

    Bill Plante is a CBS News Senior White House Correspondent