Top Romney backer says Bain record is fair game

WASHINGTON Tue May 22, 2012 12:45pm EDT

1 of 2. Supporters of President Barack Obama demonstrate before a campaign stop by Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at the fish pier in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, April 30, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A top supporter of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney acknowledged on Tuesday that the candidate's business record with Bain Capital is fair game in the battle for the White House, but only if seen as a whole.

Former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu, a Romney adviser, accused President Barack Obama's campaign of cherry-picking by running ads that only focus on Bain investments that were unsuccessful.

Sununu told reporters in a conference call that Bain had a good batting average for a private equity firm and that Obama's criticism of Romney's time at Bain amounted to "personal attacks."

"I think the Bain record as a whole is fair game," Sununu said. "I think what you have to do is an honest evaluation."

Romney's record as an executive at Bain, a firm that bought and restructured companies sometimes resulting in a loss of jobs, was hotly debated during his primary battles against Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and other conservatives.

Obama and his campaign have sought in the last two weeks to make Romney's time at the helm of Bain a centerpiece of the presidential campaign, running ads that feature workers who lost their jobs when Romney's company invested in their employers.

The Republicans were given an unexpected boost on Sunday when the Democratic mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Cory Booker, called the Obama campaign attacks over Bain "nauseating."

Obama stood by his campaign's strategy, saying in Chicago on Monday that Romney's record on jobs "is what this campaign is going to be about."

Sununu appeared to welcome the fight, telling reporters "if the campaign is going to be his discussions about Bain and (Obama's) cherry-picking of the investments that didn't work out, then the American people will join" Booker in being nauseated.

(Editing by Anthony Boadle)

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