By Ben Geman - 01/17/12 08:09 PM EST
Republicans wielding Solyndra as a political weapon against President Obama are also using the failed solar panel company to parry attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) brought up Solyndra Tuesday when asked about criticism from Romney’s GOP rivals — and likely Democratic attacks in the fall — that Romney’s private-equity firm was a predatory shop that killed jobs.
“If we can't defend free enterprise, we don't belong in the White House. I'm looking forward to it,” DeMint said, according to a transcript. “I think if you look what the government does when it tries to run the economy, you can look at Solyndra.”
If front-runner Romney is the GOP nominee in the general election, which seems likely, Republicans could raise the Solyndra issue when Obama’s campaign takes aim at Bain.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who attacked Bain in the 2008 presidential primaries but has endorsed Romney in this cycle, sought to contrast Bain with Solyndra during a CNN appearance Sunday.
He cited the early investments by Bain’s venture arm that launched office supply giant Staples, and compared that to the federal financing of Solyndra.
“I think that's the contrast. Does business create jobs or the government create jobs? And, clearly, the president believes that government creates jobs, and that's much to our great loss of taxpayers' dollars,” McCain, who lost to Obama in 2008, said Sunday on “State of the Union.”