GOP Presidential Primary

After GOP debate, fight continues over Romney’s private sector jobs record

The dispute over Mitt Romney’s record on creating jobs continued after Saturday’s GOP debate, with campaign surrogates from both parties wrangling over who benefited or suffered from Romney’s work for private equity firm Bain Capital.

“Mitt Romney did a good job digging himself into a really big hole. He repeated bald-faced lies about his job record,” Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) told The Hill. “If I were him, I wouldn’t be beating my chest over the responsibilities he had at Bain.”

{mosads}Wasserman Schultz said Romney’s role with the firm included deliberately bankrupting companies, firing people, outsourcing jobs and taking companies apart — all to earn a profit.

Not so, said Eric Fehrnstrom, a top Romney adviser, who maintained that the benefits of Romney’s work, which involved rehabbing ailing companies to return them to profitability, outweighed the negatives.

“In the business world you have winners and losers. There’s no question there are more winners and losers for Mitt Romney,” Fehrnstrom said. “People see him as an economic savior.”

Fehrnstrom and other Romney supporters also pushed back on suggestions that Romney was spared the worst of what most expected would be an onslaught of attacks on Romney, who narrowly won the Iowa caucuses, is poised to win with a wide margin in New Hampshire.

“I don’t think he got a pass. Every single candidate tried to hit him. What happened was they realized he wasn’t going to be shaken by it,” said Gov. Nikki Haley (R) of South Carolina, where Romney is now polling at the top ahead of the state’s Jan. 20 primary.

Haley said Romney’s performance in Saturday’s ABC News debate, combined with his tough stance against attempts by the Obama administration’s labor panel to block the building of a factory in South Carolina, would help him claim victory in the Palmetto State.

“He was rock solid. He looked like a leader. He had a vision. He had a presence,” Haley told The Hill.

Although escaping mostly unscathed from the debate, Romney has become the prime target for his Republican opponents, who are entangled in an erratic competition for who can become the conservative alternative and win over those who doubt Romney is a true believer. But Wasserman Schultz said Romney’s own statements — not his front-runner status and perceived strength in a matchup against Obama — were the reason Democrats were making Romney the cause célèbre.

“He’s spent a tremendous amount of time focusing almost exclusively on mischaracterizing and distorting President Obama’s record, and we’re not going to take it lying down,” she said. “As long as he continues to earn it, we’ll continue to focus on him.”


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