Former Gov. John Sununu (R-N.H.), a top surrogate for Mitt Romney, said Romney's record at Bain Capital is fair game in the campaign, as long as the record is examined in its entirety.
"I think the Bain record, as a whole, is fair game," Sununu told reporters Tuesday. "What you have to do is an honest evaluation."
Sununu defended the former Massachusetts governor's record at the private-equity firm, arguing that in 80 percent of situations, Bain was able to save jobs at struggling companies.
Sununu appeared to be referring to a statement released by Bain that said that revenues grew in 80 percent of companies in which the firm invested. That statement did not say that jobs were preserved in all cases.
"If you want to go and talk about Bain as a whole, that is fair. If you want to talk about Bain on a cherry-picking basis, that's a distortion," Sununu said.
Obama said Monday that if Romney intends to use his business experience as his entire résumé for the job of president, it is fair to point out to voters that a president's goals differ from those of a private-equity firm with its primary goal to turn a profit.
But Republicans said those attacks go too far and constitute an indictment of capitalism.
Some Democrats have also criticized Obama for slamming private equity. Cory Booker, the Democratic mayor of Newark, N.J., called the attacks from the Obama campaign "nauseating" during a Sunday appearance on "Meet the Press."
Sununu said that examined as a whole, Bain's record as a positive economic force would clearly win out over Obama's record in his first term.
"The last thing I would want, as a taxpayer, is Barack Obama managing my money as a taxpayer," Sununu said, adding that Obama either doesn't understand the free-enterprise system or doesn't like it.
A fellow former GOP governor from a Northeastern state, Sununu endorsed Romney early in the primary and was a prominent surrogate for him ahead of New Hampshire's primary, which Romney won handily. He spoke to reporters on a conference call Tuesday scheduled by the Romney campaign to rebut an afternoon speech by Vice President Biden at a state college in Keene, N.H.
"It is a disaster for them, and I hope the vice president takes a few moment to explain to them why the Obama policies have, in essence, screwed them so badly," Sununu said.
- Updated at 11:54 a.m.