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We’ve all seen it. It may be the single most famous photograph of Mitt Romney. Endlessly republished, it perfectly captures the image of unbridled greed and money lust that Romney’s opponents are laboring so hard to affix to him. The photograph shows a younger Mitt, grinning devilishly and surrounded by Bain colleagues, as money bursts forth from their suits, their pockets, their collars, their mouths, and, in Romney’s case, from behind his ears. They look like an Occupy Wall Street fever dream come to life, flaunting their riches to such tacky extremes that Fat Joe and Lil Wayne would be embarrassed.
Needless to say, this is not an image that is helpful to Romney’s presidential campaign, especially not as he’s battling to tamp down questions about his Swiss bank account, Cayman Islands tax shelters, and an IRA whose value rivals the GDP of certain small countries.
One of the fun highlights of the new issue of Bloomberg Businessweek (The Interview Issue) is that Romney finally speaks about this photograph—I believe for the first time. Here’s the exchange:
BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK: When you look at it now, does that photo of you and your Bain colleagues posing with money in your pinstripe suits make you laugh or make you cringe?
ROMNEY: Oh, that was a moment of humor as we had just done what we thought was impossible. We had raised $37 million from other people and institutions who entrusted us with their funds, and we thought it was a miracle that our group had been able to be so successful in fundraising. And ultimately we were able to yield for them a very attractive return by such investments as Staples, which was in our very first fund.
BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK: So it’s a happy memory.
ROMNEY: We had a great group of people, each one of whom I think of fondly.