It's weird to see Republicans abandon their beloved job creators to embrace the rest of us slothful job consumers. Responding to Romney's assertion that he'd worried about getting fired several times in his life, Rick Perry told voters in Anderson, South Carolina, "Now I have no doubt that Mitt Romney was worried about pink slips — whether he was going to have enough of them to hand out because his company Bain Capital with all the jobs that they killed, I’m sure he was worried that he’d run out of pink slips," ABC News' Arlette Saenz reports. “There is something inherently wrong when getting rich off failure and sticking it to someone else is how you do your business and I happen to think that’s indefensible," Perry said, despite kicking off his campaign by touting the pro-business climate in Texas and insisting that big businesses should be allowed to fail.
Bloomberg's Lisa Lerer and Jonathan D. Salant write that Romney's experience at Bain Capital has gone unquestioned for months, but that's over "as his Republican rivals are accusing him of exploiting companies and firing workers in a quest to make millions." The Wall Street Journal's Mark Maremont reports Romney's company certainly made a lot of money, even though a lot of its investments failed. He reports that of the 77 businesses Bain invested in from 1984 to 1999, 22 percent filed for bankruptcy reorganization or folded. Bain lost all its money in another 8 percent. And only 10 deals accounted for 70 percent of the money Bain made -- but of those 10 businesses, four eventually wound up in bankruptcy court.
The most aggressive attacks against Romney's business record come from Newt Gingrich and his supporters. "Mitt Romney is not a capitalist. He is a predatory corporate mugger," Rick Tyler, an adviser to the pro-Gingrich Winning Our Future super PAC, told Bloomberg. Tyler should know something about opportunism, having ditched Gingrich when his campaign collapsed in June and publicly begged to return just as Gingrich peaked in polls. As Winning Our Future advertises a half-hour commercial about Romney's Bain years, Tyler is quite an anti-Romney quote machine. He told The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny that Romney's "business success comes from raiding and destroying businesses -- putting people out of work, stealing their health care.”
Tyler's old boss Gingrich should know a little bit about that: in 1990 he nearly lost reelection in a district he'd represented 12 years after he was after he was seen as too easy on a corporate raider. Back then, Gingrich wasn't so bothered by the forces of creative destruction. When Frank Lorenzo took over Atlanta-based Eastern Airlines, Gingrich's constituents employed by the airlines pleaded with him for help, Mother Jones reported in 1989. An Eastern pilot told the magazine that his colleagues privately met with Gingrich, but "When we went to him with the Eastern situation he shied away from it because he saw it as an attack on big business." The New Republic's Alec MacGillis reported in December that a Republican friend of Gingrich's urged him to help the unions. "He was worried about national issues, and I was telling him he should worry about his district,” the Republican told MacGillis. "I kept saying, 'You have to do something for these people,' and he said, ‘I can't do anything for them -- it’s a private company.'" Gingrich didn't support a House bill asking then-President George H.W. Bush to intervene in the airline's dispute with unions, and he took campaign contributions from Lorenzo's company. The airline was dismantled and thousands of people in Gingrich's district lost their jobs. Without the support of Republican-leaning pilots, he was reelected by just 983 votes, and next election moved to a new district in the suburbs.
Gingrich still says he doesn't believe in "government trying to pick winners and losers" -- he told Glenn Beck he wouldn't have supported the GM bailout. He's prefer the company had filed for bankruptcy for reorganization. How do you thread that needle? The government shouldn't intervene in troubled companies, but the private businessmen who do shouldn't try to make any money?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.