DeMint: GOP hopefuls missed their chance to question Romney’s business record

The candidates for the GOP presidential nomination missed their chance to attack Mitt Romney’s business record and are inflicting needless damage on the Republican front-runner by doing it now, Sen Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said.

DeMint said if it were up to him, none of the GOP hopefuls would be going after Romney’s record at Bain Capital, a private equity firm he once ran.

"No, I wouldn't — I think it's too late to do that," DeMint said Thursday on MSNBC.

"If you wanted to bring that contrast to the American people, it should've been done in Iowa, but now that Newt [Gingrich] and others do not appear to be in the game, to damage a front-runner makes no sense to me."

Gingrich and Rick Perry have both come under fire from their party for their harsh jabs at Romney's business background. Both have accused Romney of looting companies while at Bain, and Perry has gone so far as to call him a “vulture” capitalist.

Romney has claimed that he created 100,000 jobs while at Bain, but his critics say the former Massachusetts governor also fired thousands of employees of companies Bain purchased.

Some conservatives say the rhetoric from Gingrich and Perry is an assault on capitalism and free enterprise, rather than just Romney's record.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who endorsed Romney, said on Fox News on Thursday that the attacks were "a last resort of a very desperate campaign."

Gingrich has not backed off from the criticism and said the attacks are par for the course.

DeMint said that the attacks on Romney's time at Bain would have come eventually from Democrats.

"This is something that would've been an attack on Romney if he's the nominee anyway, so he needs to figure out how to explain that these decisions need to be made in business," DeMint said. "I am saying that we need leaders that understand that hard decisions and pain and unpopular decisions are going to have to be made in Washington."

A Tea Party favorite, DeMint has predicted that Romney would win the South Carolina primary. Supporters of DeMint also reportedly plan to back Romney, but the senator has not endorsed a candidate. He said on Thursday that Romney or Ron Paul or any of the other top four Republican presidential candidates would make for a strong Republican nominee to challenge President Obama.

"I think they'll all do the job," DeMint said.