MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. Republican Mitt Romney gave a rare round of interviews today to reporters from five TV networks, in which he stood by his assertions that he had no active role in running Bain Capital after 1999. And he called on President Obama to apologize for comments from his campaign.
MITT ROMNEY: It's disgusting. It's demeaning. It's something which I think the president should take responsibility for, and stop.
BLOCK: NPR's Brian Naylor joins me now. And Brian, Mitt Romney said that the president's campaign has been beneath the dignity of the presidency. What's this all about?
BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: It's gotten kind of negative - you might say, with some understatement - these past few days. Mitt Romney has been called into question about his - when he actually ended his involvement with Bain Capital, at a time when there were stories that the company invested in firms that outsourced jobs overseas. He strongly denied any role in Bain after February 1999, when he left to go run the upcoming Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
The stories have come out this week that there are SEC filings that have his signature; that he was the chief executive officer and sole owner of Bain. Here's what Romney told CNN tonight.
(SOUNDBITE OF CNN PROGRAM)
ROMNEY: I spent three years running the Olympic Games. And after that was over, we worked out our retirement program; our departure - official program for Bain Capital, and handed over the shares I had. But there's a difference between being a shareholder and owner, if you will; and being a person who's running an entity. And I had no role whatsoever in managing Bain Capital after February of 1999.
BLOCK: Now, Brian, Mitt Romney was saying this is the height of silliness to be talking about this issue, as opposed to the overall economy. But the Obama campaign says no, this is a real issue.
NAYLOR: That's right. Romney talks about his role at Bain as a CEO, as a job creator; that he's best prepared to lead the nation, lead the economy. But there are reports that under his leadership of Bain, the company invested in firms that outsourced jobs overseas. It's something the Obama campaign has been hitting hard in their TV ads, and in their speeches. And in fact, Mr. Obama raised the issue today in his own interview with a local TV station.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV INTERVIEW)
BARACK OBAMA: Now, my understanding is, is that Mr. Romney attested to the SEC multiple times that he was the chairman, CEO and president of Bain Capital. And I think most Americans figure if you're the chairman, CEO and president of a company, that you are responsible for what that company does.
NAYLOR: Now, the Obama campaign spokeswoman went a bit further than that this week, saying that if Romney had filed inaccurate reports with the SEC about his role, that he could be guilty of committing a felony. That was what prompted Romney's call for an apology.
BLOCK: Brian, the Obama campaign has also been pushing Mitt Romney to release his tax returns. Any indication that he'll do that?
NAYLOR: Well, he says he's released one year's worth, and that his accountants are working on another year's worth, and that'll come out. But Romney says that that's all that's necessary for people to understand his finances; and not to expect anything further.
BLOCK: OK. NPR's Brian Naylor, thank you.
NAYLOR: Thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.