Wolfeboro, N.H. – With his vice presidential pick looming and a foreign trip a little more than a week away, Mitt Romney cut away from the campaign trail Saturday for family time at his lakeside retreat.
After a difficult week, the unofficial Republican nominee spent the morning working outside on his iPad in a dress shirt and jeans. He escaped in the afternoon for a boat ride with his family on Lake Winnipesaukee.
Romney was not expected to make any public appearances after a week in which he was hammered by Democrats amid new questions about the timing of his departure from Bain Capital, the venture capital firm he cofounded. President Obama and his allies pounced this week on a report from the Boston Globe that said Romney headed the firm until 2002, instead of 1999 as Romney has said in interviews and in a federal filing that disclosed his financial holdings.
Obama sought to draw attention to Securities and Exchange Commission documents cited by the Globe, telling the Washington television station WJLA that the timing of Romney’s departure from Bain was a key question for the campaign because he said Romney should be held accountable for the firm’s activities during the years in question.
Obama’s deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, argued that Romney might have committed a felony by telling the SEC that he was Bain’s sole owner, board chairman and chief executive during a period when he now says he played no role in the firm.
Republicans disputed that charge as scurrilous and irresponsible. But in a highly unusual move that illustrated the Romney campaign’s concern about the attacks, Romney granted interviews to all five major TV networks Friday to counter the Obama campaign’s statements. “Is this up to the standards expected of the presidency of the United States?” Romney asked CNN’s Jim Acosta.
He reaffirmed his position that he left Bain in 1999 to run the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and said the Obama campaign was putting out “false and deceptive” information. CBS News correspondent Jan Crawford pressed Romney to explain the SEC filings, which state that he was the CEO and sole owner through 2002.
“The documents show that there's a difference between ownership, which is I owned shares in Bain, but I did not manage Bain,” Romney replied. By February of 1999, “I was full-time running the Olympics. I had no role whatsoever in the management of Bain after I went off to the Olympics. And that's been demonstrated by people who work at Bain, by all of the documents. But I still retained an ownership interest, I had the capacity—if I were not on leave, if I were actually wanting to run the business to do so—but I did not. I left.”
Obama continued to use the issue to swat at Romney in a pair of Virginia campaign stops, accusing the Republican of outsourcing jobs. He hit the same point in a tough new ad airing in battleground states that also alluded to Romney’s financial holdings in offshore accounts.
There was no sign of concern Saturday at Romney’s lakeside home, where his grandchildren played on the small beach at the edge of a lawn scattered with toys and several paddleboards. At one point, Romney's wife, Ann, came out to the lawn to offer one of her grandsons help with his golf swing.
The candidate took full advantage of water sports on Lake Winnipesaukee during his recent weeklong vacation—riding a jet ski with Ann, taking his grandchildren for a spin on the boat and diving (with his T-shirt on) into the lake. He spent a quieter day at home Saturday.
At one point he tried on a bike helmet and helped his sons and grandchildren gear up for a bike ride. Romney and several Secret Service agents were suited up to join them. Later in the afternoon a boat left the family compound, followed closely by a security chase boat that now accompanies the candidate during his boating adventures.