When Mitt Romney was running for Massachusetts governor in 2002, it was in his interest to make his exit date from Bain Capital a little fuzzy. Democrats had challenged his residency, and he told the state ballot law commission that he returned to Massachusetts during his Salt Lake years to attend "were a number of social trips and business trips that brought me back to Massachusetts, board meetings, Thanksgiving and so forth," Politico's Alexander Burns reports. Romney did not mention he worked for Bain, but for companies Bain invested in, like Staples, Marriott, and the Life Like Corporation. He said he went to four to five meetings a year for Staples, and for most of those meetings, he returned to Massachusetts. And he said he'd planned to come back: "I left on the basis of a leave of absence, indicating that I, by virtue of that title, would return at the end of the Olympics to my employment at Bain Capital," but he later decided not to.
That doesn't disprove the Romney campaign's statement that he played no "active role" in Bain after 1999 following yesterday's report that Romney was listed as the company's CEO on SEC filings until 2002. And even the ballot commission report concludes that Romney "worked, on average, over 12 hours per day, 6 days per week" for the Olympics. But Salon's Steve Kornacki writes that it shows that Romney initially intended to return to Bain, just as he had for two other leaves of absence in the 1990s. Running for governor only became a "serious option" for Romney in late 2001, Kornacki writes, as Gov. Jane Swift's administration began to struggle. He says:
For most of the time he was in Utah, politics was not a realistic option for Romney’s immediate post-Olympic career. And because of this, it makes all the sense in the world that Romney would have remained apprised of Bain’s activities while in Utah and maintained some level of engagement, even if he wasn’t directly involved in the company’s day-to-day activities.
A senior Romney aide told Politico's Ginger Gibson that Republicans need to stop freaking out over the Bain story:
"You have a lot of people inside the Beltway, who like to sit back and be armchair quarterbacks, strategists who talk to you and don’t go on the record. We have a plan. We know what the plan is, and we’re going to implement the plan... We know what it takes and that’s what we’re going to do. All of this hew and cry, you know, from the bedwetters who get to sit on the sidelines, aren’t going to affect what we’re going to do and our plan."
This is funny, because the aide is quoted anonymously, and then Gibson quotes several concerned Republicans on the record. The shot at panicking "bedwetters" is also funny, because on Thursday night, the Drudge Report's floating of Condoleezza Rice as a serious contender to be Romney's running mate was interpreted by many as a nervous attempt to change the subject away from Bain.