The Last Word | April 19, 2012
O'DONNELL: In tonight's Rewrite , Mitt Romney tries once again to Rewrite the real Romney . Here he is in Pennsylvania talking about his experience starting up a small business , a little tiny business.
ROMNEY: My life has become more of an open book than I had imagined years ago. But I spent 25 years of my life in business. And I started what was a small business , which has grown very successfully over the years.
O'DONNELL: " And I started what was a small business ?" That small business he's talking about is Bain Capital , where he made the hundreds of millions of dollars that he and his family live on now that he's, as he has described it, unemployed. That small business , Bain Capital , is a partner with NBC Universal in owning the Weather Channel . That small business now has offices in 11 cities, on three continents, managing assets worth 66 billion dollars. How small was this business when Mitt Romney started it? And what was it really like for Mitt Romney starting that small business ? And for that matter, did Mitt Romney really start it? For the real story , we once again turn to "The Real Romney ." Readings in "The Real Romney ." Here's how it happened. " Bain -- Bill Bain proposed Romney would become the head of a new company to be called Bain Capital , with seed money from Bill Bain and other partners at Bain and Company . Bain Capital would raise tens of millions of dollars, invest in start-ups and troubled businesses, apply Bain 's brand of management advice, and then resell the revitalized companies or sell their shares to the public for a profit. " Romney explained to Bain that he didn't want to risk his position, earnings, and reputation on an experiment. So Bain sweetened the pot. Bill Bain guaranteed that if the experiment failed, Romney would get his old job and salary back, plus any raises he would've earned during his absence. "Still, Romney worried about the impact of his reputation -- on his reputation if he proved unable to do the job. Again, the pot was sweetened. Bain promised that if necessary, he would craft a cover story " -- a what? "He would craft a cover story saying that Romney's return to Bain and Company was needed because of his value as a consultant." So what did Mitt Romney risk in starting this so-called small business that he really didn't start? Absolutely nothing, not a penny. As Bill Bain explains it in "The Real Romney ," quote, "there was no professional or financial risk ," end of story . Mitt Romney 's lying is extraordinary, even for a politician. And it is catching the attention of some of our most experienced and wise observers of political lying. Richard Cohen , in his " Washington Post " column, calls Romney a smooth liar with a, quote, "bulletproof demeanor," end quote. Richard Cohen makes a persuasive case that Romney came to rely on lying as a basic business tactic, as a basic tool of the trade in the business world. Like most of us, Romney belongs to more than one culture. He belongs to a religious culture, a political culture . But it is the businessman's culture that he belongs to that seems to have shaped him in the ways that are most important to his campaign. He does not talk about his religion. He does not talk about his past in politics. But he does talk about his past in business. It is the only part of his past that he's actually willing to talk about. And when he talks about it, he is as likely to lie about it as not. And Richard Cohen thinks he knows why. Let's find the Richard Cohen quote. This is great. Richard Cohen says "what his career has given him is the businessman's concept of self, that what he does is not who he is. This is what enables the slum lord to be a charitable man. This is what enables the corporate raider to endow his university. Business is business . It's what you do. It's not who you are. Lying isn't a sin. It's a business plan ."