In South Carolina, Romney defends record at equity firm Bain

GREER, South Carolina Thu Jan 12, 2012 6:59pm EST

Mitt Romney greets supporters during a campaign stop at Cherokee Trikes and More in Greer, South Carolina January 12, 2012.   REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Mitt Romney greets supporters during a campaign stop at Cherokee Trikes and More in Greer, South Carolina January 12, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

GREER, South Carolina (Reuters) - Republican front-runner Mitt Romney defended his leadership on Thursday of a private equity firm at the center of a raging campaign battle in South Carolina over whether while its chief executive he was a job killer.

Romney is facing attack ads from rival Newt Gingrich in South Carolina over his tenure at Bain Capital, a private equity outfit that bought and restructured companies, sometimes resulting in the loss of jobs.

The objective of Gingrich along with a fellow conservative candidate, Rick Perry, is to try to stop Romney's momentum toward the 2012 Republican presidential nomination after his victories in Iowa and New Hampshire.

A victory in South Carolina on January 21 would put Romney well on his way to the nomination.

At a motorcycle dealership in Greer, South Carolina, Romney staged a news conference after a campaign event to address the issue. He said Bain helped start four companies, Staples, Bright Horizons Children's Centers, Sports Authority and Steel Dynamics that had created well over 100,000 jobs.

"A few thousand jobs" were lost from failing enterprises, he said.

"The reality is in the private sector there are some businesses that are growing and thriving and we were fortunate enough to be part of that in a small way, and there are some businesses that have to be cut back in order to survive and try to make them stronger."

"And sometimes you're successful with that and sometimes you're not," he said.

The Bain charges, if they stick, could damage Romney's ability to sell himself as a former executive with more experience in creating jobs than his Republican rivals or than Democratic President Barack Obama, whom he hopes to challenge for the White House this November.

"I think people want to see a hands-on. 'get-the-job-done' leader and I've demonstrated that," he said.

Bain is only one potential minefield for Romney as he seeks to make it three wins in a row in South Carolina -- and as his conservative rivals try to stop him.

Another problem for Romney is his stand on abortion. He is facing criticism of changing his position from in favor of a woman's right to choose whether to have an abortion to opposing the procedure.

To stress that point, Romney made a point of mentioning his desire to preserve "life" three times in his speech to a crowd at the motorcycle shop.

"I understand that there are some attack ads coming my way that question that, and obviously it's important for me to remind people that I'm pro-life," he told reporters later.

(Editing by Philip Barbara)

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Comments (14)
Kyung wrote:
Fight for your survival and the lives of your children and grandchildren.
Seize the Future!

The USA has the largest oil reserves in the world.
Nationalize that oil, don’t sell it to run foreign factories!
Demand that 80 to 90% of everything sold in the USA be made in the USA!

You can do this!
You can be the hero of today and generations to come!

Jan 11, 2012 10:31pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Onerioi wrote:
Romney is NOT for a free market. Don’t be fooled again. Romney pays lip service to small government, like most Republicans of the past 30 years. They get into office and borrow money to give to their “job-creator” friends. They’ve created so many jobs overseas that we have an unemployment problem here in the USA. The super-rich have purchased the best government money can buy, and it’s a big one. I’ve read that 59% of “New Hampshire’s GOP voters think Romney is the candidate most likely to beat Obama.” That’s funny. Romney is the candidate most LIKE Obama. We’re getting distracted. The last thing Barack Obama did in 2011 was sign a bill that eliminates due process for anyone suspected of terrorism in America. Did we wake up in Stalin’s Russia in 2012? Which of the candidates would never have signed that bill? We need someone in office who will take our country back to where it should be, guided by the principles of the constitution. Not people who are taking our tax dollars to build empires. If you’re a conservative, vote for Ron Paul. He’s the only GOP candidate who really stands for lower taxes and less government. The rest are paying lip service to get elected. If you’re a liberal, like myself, vote for Ron Paul. He’s the only one who really would get us out of all of the insane foreign entanglements, and keep the government in check when it comes to our civil liberties. I’m a liberal for liberty! It’s time we vote our conscious, instead of voting for “my guy who is the only one who stands a chance of beating your guy.” Ron Paul 2012!

Jan 12, 2012 8:36am EST  --  Report as abuse
MhD wrote:
I guess I am still overly naive. I was hoping to hear some specifics from Romney. Like, regarding the 100+ year old steel company in Kansas – why did they take such a huge dividend against debt? Why did they under fund the pension resulting in government bail out? Why didn’t they honor their labor contract offering workers healthcare? Why did they turn down an acquisition offer to save the firm (jobs)? I think these are really important questions that, frankly, the GOP should be asking.

This free market BS has to stop. It used to be you invested money and make something happen – you win. Sometimes you win big and become rich. You don’t deliver you loose. Not just loose, but loose your investment. Somewhere along the line big investors grew a sense of entitlement and feel it necessary to take their returns before it’s determined whether their investment was a winner or loser.

So, if by ‘free markets’ Romney means investors make money by investing in a company regardless of success or failure while the working class and tax payers pay the bill? Then yes, I am against ‘free markets’ as we all should be.

Jan 12, 2012 11:54am EST  --  Report as abuse
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