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Ex-CEOs Defend Romney’s Tenure at Bain


While Mitt Romney’s rivals criticize his tenure at Bain Capital, the two founders of Bain’s most notable successes, Sports Authority and Staples, say his experience best equips him to serve as the nation’s next president.

Jack Smith, founder of Sports Authority, calls the attacks “a terrible slap against a brilliant guy’s record.” Bain was one of the original investors in the sporting-goods store, and Romney served as a director on the company’s board. Smith says he would consult Romney on “anything and everything.” “He provided guidance and direction,” he adds.

“I heard [Newt] Gingrich talking about how they eliminated jobs and the money they grabbed, that’s baloney,” Smith insists.

Tom Stemberg, founder of Staples, agrees, calling Romney “the single best corporate director I’ve ever worked with.” Asked about Rick Santorum’s contention that Romney’s experience as a CEO isn’t the best preparation for the presidency — because a president can’t boss Congress around — Stemberg retorts, “That’s an absurd analogy.” As a member of the board of directors, Stemberg notes, “You can’t boss anyone around. You’re only a shareholder. You’ve got one vote.”

Rather, Romney’s corporate experience taught him how to function as an executive and as a legislator, Stemberg argues, because he had to convince seven or eight people to go along with him. Yes, successful businesses such as Sporting Authority and Staples would have existed without Romney, but “they are way better enterprises today than they would have been” if Romney hadn’t been involved.

Smith, meanwhile, says Romney’s still got that entrepreneurial talent. “If he started a business today, he would make it successful.” And if he became president of the United States, Smith contends, he could fix the country’s business.


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