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Utahns with connection to Olympics side with Romney on Bain debate

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SALT LAKE CITY - Mitt Romney and Salt Lake City's Olympics are back in the spotlight, with questions rising over Romney's ongoing ties with the firm Bain Capital after he'd left to run Utah's organizing effort.

But those who worked with Romney organizing the Olympic Games are standing behind him.

Between 1999 to 2002, Mitt Romney was the president and CEO of Salt Lake's Olympic Organizing effort. Those three years are emerging as a central focus of a bitter and bruising fight between the Romney and Obama campaigns.

This fight is really over Romney's business record and relationship with the investment firm he ran before the Olympics — Bain Capital. The question: How involved was he with Bain during a period of some layoffs and out-sourcing?

Both sides are looking for the upper hand, hoping to gain control of the story line and the narrative in the presidential race. President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are fighting to control this summer's political debate. This weekend, Obama refused to apologize for campaign attacks.

In fact, the Obama campaign is doubling down in a new ad, using Romney's own rendition of "America, the Beautiful" to attack his jobs record. For his part, Romney is slamming Obama for what he has called an "outrageous" and "reckless" campaign.

"Their strategy is to quote 'Kill Romney,' end of quote, and the American people want instead a discussion about the direction of the country..." Romney said.

Their strategy is to quote 'Kill Romney,' end of quote, and the American people want instead a discussion about the direction of the country...

–Mitt Romney

Romney left Bain Capital to run the Olympics in 1999. News reports last week focused on whether Romney's control over Bain lasted three years longer than he'd previously said.

Former Salt Lake mayor Rocky Anderson says he was never aware of Romney working on Bain business while running the Games.

"The reality was, as far as I could see, Mitt was spending more than full time," Anderson said. "His energy, his time, his attention — everything to the Olympics."

His former No. 2, Fraser Bullock, says the overlap is easily explained.

"The Olympics were in turmoil," Bullock said. "He came out and after spending a career at Bain Capital. It did take a while for things to settle out."

He says Romney was quickly transitioning away from Bain, and had no day-to-day role.

"There had to be some transitional elements, particularly relative to governance and management and so occasionally he would have calls on that, but he had no involvement in day-to-day management."

Romney supporter Kirk Jowers says both sides are looking to inflict damage on the other.

"It's hurting Romney a little bit right now and has the capacity to hurt him in the long run, but it's also hurting Obama because I think people are looking more for solutions than accusations," Jowers said.

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John Daley


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