Mitt Romney's top campaign adviser insisted on Sunday that Romney has no responsibility for any decisions made at Bain Capital during the three years from 1999 to 2001, during which he claimed that he had resigned from the company to go run the Olympics in Utah, explaining that Romney had "retired retroactively to 1999" from the company.
Speaking on CNN's State of the Union, Ed Gillespie continued the campaign's line of argument that, despite documents showing otherwise, Romney had effectively left Bain in 1999. He said that Romney didn't work even part-time for Bain during that period.
"There may have been a thought at the time that he, that it could be part time, but it was not part time," he said. "The Olympics was in a shambles. There was corruption."
Gillespie said that, even if Bain Capital had thought Romney could take a part-time leave of absence from the company, the reality of the demands of the job was different.
"If that's what it said, maybe that's what they thought at the time was that he could do it part time," Gillespie said. "It was not a part-time job. It was a 16-hour a day job."
That's why, he said, Romney "retired retroactively to 1999" from Bain -- he may have thought he could return to the job, but didn't. Gillespie repeated the claim that Romney retired retroactively on NBC's Meet the Press later on Sunday.
Gillespie's language may be a new line of defense to explain Romney's involvement with the company from 1999 to 2001. But the attacks won't likely go away. Gillespie's explanation exploded on Twitter on Sunday morning, with critics tweeting out ironic things that happened "retroactively," using the hash tag "#retroactively."
On Meet the Press, Gillespie also declined to say whether or not Romney supports the decisions made at Bain during that time, further attempting to distance the candidate from the company.
"In terms of stands by them, I don't know what you mean," he said when asked by NBC's David Gregory about whether he backed Bain's decisions. "They weren't his decisions. He wasn't there at the time that those decisions were made."
Gillespie's statements exemplify the campaign's continued defense in a debate that escalated rapidly last week, with Romney appearing on five news networks Friday evening to try to undo some of the damage the Obama campaign and continued news accounts have done.
The Obama campaign is arguing that newly-unearthed records reveal Romney was in fact CEO, main shareholder and president of Bain Capital from 1999-2001, despite having left to run the Olympics, and thus can be held responsible for the outsourcing of jobs that Bain engaged in during that time. Romney has insisted he was owner in name only, and had nothing to do with the day-to-day management or decisions at the company -- a line repeated by Gillespie on Sunday.