4:33 p.m. Bill Kristol is skeptical of Bain's defenders. "If this is where some in the conservative movement and the Republican party are inclined to go--four cheers for finance capitalism!--good luck. Indeed, it's useful to flush out this tendency now, and subject it to debate. Because it's a recipe for political disaster--and intellectual sterility," he writes in The Weekly Standard.
"Post 2008, capitalism needs its strong defenders--but its defenders need also to be its constructive critics. The Tea Party was right. What's needed is a critique of Big Government above all, but also of Big Business and Big Finance and Big Labor (and Big Education and Big Media and all the rest)--and especially a critique of all those occasions when one or more of these institutions conspire against the common good."
3:45 p.m. GOP not well positioned on decrying capitalism. Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich raises a note of skepticism in Salon when it comes to the Romney critics: "I'm all in favor of reforming capitalism, but you'll permit me some skepticism when it comes to criticisms of Bain Capital coming from Romney's Republican opponents. None of these Republican candidates has exactly distinguished himself with new ideas for giving Americans more economic security. To the contrary -- until the assault on Romney and Bain Capital -- every one of them has been a cheerleader for financial capitalism of the most brutal sort."
3:40 p.m. That pro-Romney PAC has spent at least $7 million so far. Reports NBC: "Restore Our Future, the Super PAC supporting Mitt Romney's presidential bid, has placed a new $1.7 ad buy in Florida, bringing its total spending to $7 million and counting, according to Smart Media Group Delta, the ad-tracking firm partnering with NBC News. By comparison, the well-financed Romney campaign so far has spent just $5.5 million in advertising." Little wonder Newt Gingrich is so mad.
3:35 p.m. Ron Paul's campaign defends Mitt Romney. Paul campaign national chairman Jesse Benton decries the pile-on over Romney's firing people comment. "Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich are once again proving why they are unfit to be President and why this has become a two man national race between Mitt Romney, the candidate of the status quo, and Ron Paul, the candidate of real change," Benton said in a statement.
"Two important issues that should unite Republicans are a belief in free markets and an understanding that the media often use 'gotcha' tactics to discredit us. Rather than run against Governor Romney on the issues of the day Santorum, Huntsman, and Gingrich have chosen to play along with the media elites and exploit a quote taken horribly out of context. They are also using the language of the liberal left to attack private equity and condemn capitalism in a desperate and, frankly, unsavory attempt to tear down another Republican with tactics akin to those of MoveOn.org."
For more on how the attacks on Romney's business background and that quote are being greeted by free-market conservatives, see David A. Graham's story today, "How Gingrich's Attack on Romney and Bain Backfired, Part II."
2:22 p.m. Ouch. Santorum, reflecting on how his upbringing is different than Romney's: "the nuns beat my knuckles bare."
1:58 p.m. No, you're fired. The DNC has released a Web video response to Romney's comment on liking to fire people:2
1:41p.m. A One State Wonder. The Hill reports: "Jon Huntsman might be the trendy pick to surge in the New Hampshire primary, but a Public Policy Polling survey released on Tuesday shows it will be a challenge for him to carry that momentum into South Carolina, where he's currently polling behind comedian Stephen Colbert." Many people raise questions about PPP's polls. But still.
11:52 a.m. Oh, that former Massachusetts governor. Buzzfeed has surfaced "The Five Most Pro-Gay Romney Documents."
11:49 a.m. Ready, Aim, Fire. Mitt Romney's gaffe about liking to fire people continued to resonate Tuesday, TPM reports: "At an event in New Hampshire Tuesday, as Romney held a baby, someone in the audience yelled, 'Are you going to fire the baby?'"
11:01 a.m. Gingrich has a private equity past. CNN reports: "Upon leaving Congress in 1999, the former Speaker joined private equity firm Forstmann Little & Co. as a member of its advisory board. It is unclear how long Gingrich served on the advisory board, or how much he was paid. The campaign has not yet responded to a request for comment. Forstmann Little was one of the world's original leveraged buyout firms, although its founder -- the late Teddy Forsmann -- often railed against what he saw as over-leveraging by rival firms (presumably including Bain). It effectively began winding down operations in 2005, following a legal dispute with the State of Connecticut over failed investments in a pair of large communications companies." The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby says it was also a competitor to Bain Capital.
11:00 a.m. A pro-Rommney backlash? New Hampshirites don't like being told what to think -- just ask Hillary Clinton. Tweets a Romney strategist:
NH poised to deliver verdict on Bain attacks against Romney as last Suffolk poll shows Romney ticking up 4 points overnight.— Eric Fehrnstrom (@EricFehrn) January 10, 2012
10:50 a.m. Hello, New Hampshire. Here's your Atlantic morning reading:
- Molly Ball lays out "The Granite State Stakes."
- Brian Goldsmith says "It's Not Too Late to Go Negative on Mitt Romney."
- James Fallows "On the Psychology of 'Liking' to Fire People."
- For complete coverage, check out our Election 2012 page.