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Romney likens work at Bain Capital to Obama’s auto industry bailout

On the heels of his decisive victory in the New Hampshire primary, Mitt Romney took the attacks on his private sector record used by GOP rivals and turned them against President Obama.

Romney’s critics have accused him of destroying jobs in order to increase profits for investment firm Bain Capital. But speaking Wednesday on CBS, Romney said that what he did was no different from the Obama administration’s auto industry bailouts.

“In the general election I’ll be pointing out that the president took the reins at General Motors and Chrysler — closed factories, closed dealerships laid off thousands and thousands of workers — he did it to try to save the business,” Romney said Wednesday on CBS.

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Obama has publicly touted his plan to “retool and restructure” the auto companies as “an investment in American workers.” Romney was strongly opposed to the auto bailouts but on Wednesday likened the president’s strategy to his own.

“We also had the occasion to do things that are tough to try and save a business,” he said.

Bain Capital, Romney’s former firm, specializes in providing financial and management advice, often taking over distressed companies, which in some cases results in closed businesses or massive layoffs.

Romney contends that the companies Bain turned around more than make up for the layoffs, and that he helped create more than 100,000 jobs during his time there, a figure his critics contest.

Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry spent the days leading up to the primary assailing Romney for his time as an executive at Bain Capital, calling him a “vulture capitalist" and framing the firm as an unethical institution that “undermined capitalism.”

“We expected President Obama to put free enterprise on trial and to continue his rhetoric of envy and class warfare,” Romney said on MSNBC. “We’re a little surprised to see it coming from Speaker Gingrich and others, but you know, if campaigns aren’t going well people try new tacks, I don’t think it worked last night in New Hampshire, I don’t think it will work in South Carolina.”

Gingrich has himself been criticized, most prominently by influential conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, for waging attacks on Romney that his critics say are liberal, anti-capitalist arguments that will be adopted by the Obama campaign.

On Tuesday, the New Hampshire primary runner-up Ron Paul surprisingly came to Romney’s defense, saying Perry and Gingrich sounded “like Democrats” with their attacks.

“It is strange, those that are calling themselves true conservatives ended up attacking venture capitalism and capitalism in general,” Romney continued. “It suggests a bit of a desperate time for some campaigns.”