Romney first tried to establish that he’d left Bain in 1999 when he was running for governor in 2002 against Democrat Shannon O’Brien. Her campaign featured a Kansas City steel worker who was laid off when the mill went bankrupt in 2001, after Bain Capital raked in substantial profits from investing in the company. Romney responded that he had nothing to do with the layoffs because he didn't work at Bain during the period at issue.
As Boston Globe reported at the time: “Romney has taken responsibility for making the initial investment but has said he could not be blamed for management decisions at the company."
These days, of course, Romney is making the same claim, even though documents and testimony from as late as 2002 list him as Bain's CEO. Maddow showed footage from O’Brien’s 2002 debate with Romney and asked the former member of the Massachusetts House and Senate how she feels now that Romney's Bain inconsistencies have resurfaced.
“As the first person to press Mitt Romney about what really happened at Bain Capital when he was responsible for Bain Capital’s actions, are you surprised to see it coming up again now? Is this the same basic issue you were confronting him with 10 years ago?” Maddow asked O’Brien.
“It’s the same basic issue. He criticized me very deeply... for having questioned his truthfulness. And it has taken 10 years to figure out that actually maybe he wasn’t telling the truth," O'Brien said. She continued:
"I think that after 10 years, it’s really making sure that you hold someone accountable for the statements that they make. Former governor Romney has demonstrated a pattern of basically not being completely transparent about his financial dealings.
On the one hand, he says the reason that he should be the president of the United States is because he’s a job creator, and the reason we should believe he’s a job creator is because of his fantastic track record at Bain. But then when pressed about the bankruptcies and the lost jobs, well, then he doesn’t want to have anything to do with that.
So I think we that were able to uncover quite a bit of that in 2002, and I think that it's just looking at the inconsistencies, not only in 2002, but in his last race and in this race... just making sure that he’s being truthful and making sure he’s being consistent in the message that he’s pressing for, making his case to the people in the United States.”