Republican presidential front runner Mitt Romney is catching a lot of flak for his comment in New Hampshire yesterday that he “likes to fire people” who provide him services he doesn’t think adequate.
While everyone was busy interpreting the meaning of that comment, Romney made a more decidedly firm — and bizarrely false — statement about solar investment. While the solar industry saw a record amount of installations and investment in 2011, bringing in more venture capital dollars ($1.81 billion) than any other cleantech sector, Romney claimed that investors “pulled back in that industry” after the Solyndra debacle:
He compared the way Bain Capital helped start Staples, a company that acted lean for its first years and received just $5 million of capital investment, with the way Solyndra acted after receiving $530 million from Washington, getting fancy corporate offices.
“When people saw what Staples was doing, they got into the same market too. But when other solar companies saw Solyndra get $530 million from the government, investors pulled back in that industry,” he said. “So instead of encouraging solar development, the Obama administration hurt it.”
Actually, the exact opposite happened — U.S. solar installations more than doubled in 2011, with last year seeing a $1 billion investment from Bank of America for the single largest residential solar project ever.
If Romney were being graded on the PolitiFact scale Truth-O-Meter scale, the Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire meter would be completely off the charts.
At this point, with the Solyndra debacle fading out of the headlines, why pay attention to a ridiculous statement like this at one at a campaign stop in New Hampshire? Because this was at a meeting with 300 members of Nashua, New Hampshire’s Chamber of Commerce — a group of people who have enormous influence over the business decisions of the state’s second-largest city.
Romney has danced around this argument before. But now the former business man is doubling down on a preposterously false claim about the solar industry, feeding fellow business folk with a heaping spoon full of BS to satisfy the talking points of radicals within his party who will do anything to marginalize clean energy.
This is the kind of nonsensicial, out-of-touch statement that has become the political mantra of presidential candidates, even from a candidate like Romney, who was a former champion of clean energy technologies while governor of Massachusetts.
Maybe he’s tricked himself into believing this statement by now. The only way he’s going to “un-learn” these lies are to hear from people who actually represent the industry.
So if you’re a member of the solar industry in any of the states soon to be holding primaries or caucuses, are you going to let the candidates get away with making these kind of statements on the campaign?