Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) defended Republican rival Mitt Romney against the recent onslaught of attacks over his role as an executive at private equity firm Bain Capital.
Speaking Tuesday on Laura Ingraham’s radio show, Paul said his GOP rivals former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Gov. Rick Perry (Texas) sounded “like Democrats” in blasting Romney’s record with the company.
“I think it’s a big distraction,” Paul said. “And they’re picking up on this and those who are condemning him for it, I think, are arguing like Democrats.
“You know, they come in and say, look, restructuring in the free market is a good idea, and I don’t know anything about Bain, so I’m not taking a position on that, and I haven’t looked at it and I have no idea what he did or didn’t do, but the principle of restructuring is a good thing in the marketplace,” he said.
As primary voters headed to the polls in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Romney has faced withering attacks from Democrats and GOP rivals who accuse him of laying off American workers and closing business as an executive at Bain.
Bain Capital specializes in providing financial and management advice, often taking over distressed companies, which in some cases results in closed businesses or massive layoffs.
Gingrich intensified his attacks against Romney on Tuesday, saying that Bain’s business model was “indefensible” because it “undermined capitalism.”
Rick Perry also weighed in, saying that Bain acted like a “vulture” and referencing so-called “vulture capital” firms that raid weak companies for their assets.
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.
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.
Gingrich maintains that his attacks are not anti-capitalist, and that he was only criticizing those instances where Bain “made a lot of money and the company went broke.”
“I think you have to look at the specific companies we are talking about and you have to ask yourself a very tough-minded question: Is it fair to have a system, is it right, is it the kind of country you want to live in, to have a system where somebody comes in to take over your company, take out all the cash and leave behind a wreck, and they go off to a country club having a great time and you go off to the unemployment line?" Gingrich said Tuesday on Fox News.
But Paul disagrees, and managed to work in a dig against Gingrich for his connections to Freddie Mac.
“For conservatives to come forward and say restructuring is bad, I think there is a big difference if you are restructuring in the free market and you are doing a positive thing versus somebody who may have taken money from Freddie Mac,” Paul said.
Gingrich received at least $1.6 million from the government-backed mortgage giant, and his critics have accused him of lobbying on behalf of Freddie Mac. Gingrich, though, maintains the payments weren’t for lobbying, but rather for strategic advice he provided as a “historian.”
Paul also said that Gingrich was only launching the attacks because his campaign was struggling to remain relevant.
“You know, he’s sort of struggling and he’s looking for something, but I don’t think it is going to sell, because I am hoping people understand the marketplace a little better than that.”