Here we go again with the American political scene erupting in attacks on capitalism. But this week it hits with a new twist. This time the anti-capitalist rhetoric is coming from some of the Republican candidates for president!
Early on Monday, candidate Mitt Romney uttered what many are considering a gaffe. In a discussion about health insurance and his ideas on what he’d like to see done with it, Romney said that he likes the idea of being able to dump a policy or plan that doesn’t suit him and getting another one. In that context he said, “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.” This phrase has become a sticking point for Romney’s opponents.
Newt Gingrich immediately attacked Romney’s record at Bain Capitol — a company that specialized in buying troubled companies and rehabing them. Gingrich criticized Romney as acting the role of a vulture, swooping in on a company only to begin “draining out its cash and walk out without concern about the consequences.”
Speaking of vultures, Rick Perry similarly jumped on Romney’s work at Bain. Jake Sherman reports:
Rick Perry is back on Mitt Romney — in a big way.
At a town hall here, he reprised his attack on Romney’s Bain Capital, but took it a step further.
“I will suggest they’re just vultures,” he said of firms that “loot” other companies. “They’re vultures that are sitting out there on the tree limb, waiting for a company to get sick. And then they swoop in, they eat the carcass, they leave with that and they leave the skeleton.”
Team Romney replied to that slam at Politico:
“It is no surprise that, having spent nearly half a century in government between them, Speaker Gingrich and Governor Perry have resorted to desperate attacks on a subject they don’t understand. We expect attacks on free enterprise from President Obama and his allies on the left — not from so-called ‘fiscal conservatives,’” she writes. “Speaker Gingrich and Governor Perry seem to think that running against the private sector is the way to revive their floundering campaigns. Governor Romney will continue talking about his experience in the real economy, his vision for getting America back to work, and how important it is that we defeat President Obama in November.
The low polling Jon Huntsman also slammed Romney saying: “What’s clear is he likes firing people, I like creating jobs.”
For his part, Rick Santorum has defended Romney saying on Fox News, “I just don’t think as a conservative and someone who believes in business that we should be out there playing the games that the Democrats play, saying somehow capitalism is bad.”
A storm of criticism has come these GOP Romney slammer’s way today, however. From the blogs, to the Media even to Rush Limbaugh (who said on his radio show that these GOP candidates are attacking Romney from the left), tongues are wagging asking why Republicans are suddenly all about attacking the capitalist process?
Stung, Gingrich responded to this criticism saying that it is “baloney” to say he is attacking capitalism.
Gov. Romney has repeatedly said that one of his major qualifications to be president is his record in the private sector. You look at his record in the private sector and people say, “Oh, no, you’re not allowed to question anything about that. That must be a sign that you’re anti-capitalism,” which is baloney.
This has all been an early indication of what the Obama campaign will try to do to Romney if he becomes the GOP nominee. It has fostered at least two high profile conservative groups to come to Romney’s defense. Both The National Review and the American Enterprise Institute have defended Romney’s work at Bain today.
There is one line of thinking, though, that holds that it is good that Romney gets hit with Bainisms this early in the campaign. Why? Because if Romney can weather the attacks and come through them unscathed, if Obama later tries to raise the same points people will look on the charges as old news that were already dealt with. This, they say, inoculates Romney from the attacks later in the general.
Whatever the case, it is a strange turn of events, is it not?