BOSTON--At the airport on my way out of New England the morning after the New Hampshire primary, I spoke with Michael Steele, the former chairman of the National Republican Committee, about primary results and the attacks by Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry against Mitt Romney.
Steele, who is a political analyst for MSNBC, said the offensive from Gingrich and Perry against Romney for his business record at the private-equity firm Bain Capital is "inconsistent" with conservative principles and could come back to haunt the lower-tier candidates. He told Yahoo News:
It sounds as if you're attacking capitalism and the free-market system, and that's not what we're about. We're about supporting it and making it stronger and better so jobs can be created, sustained long-term and businesses can create the kind of investments that are going to be necessary for our economy to grow. When you look at what Bain does, you know, how do you attack that? How do you attack a company that is consistently building opportunity? Like anything, yeah, sometimes it doesn't work for every company they're trying to fix. That's just the nature of things. People go into surgery, and sometimes the surgery doesn't work. You still have a problem and, you know, nature takes its course. The same is true in business. Sometimes with all the help, all the support, all the right tools, it's still not enough because of whatever. To attack that, to me, is inconsistent with who we are and what we fundamentally agree with.
Despite criticism from free-market groups like the Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity, Gingrich and Perry continue to hit Romney on the subject. Winning Our Future, a super PAC that supports Gingrich, plans to release a short film calling him "more ruthless than Wall Street," according to Bloomberg News, which obtained a early copy.
"I think the focus has got to be on strategies that will beat Obama in the fall," Steele said. "We don't want to weaken our nominee, whoever it it is, so much that you're basically filling up the oppo-file for the DNC."
Note: In the interview, I said that Rick Perry has called Romney a "venture capitalist," when I meant to say "vulture capitalist," an attack he made this week.
Read more coverage of the 2012 New Hampshire primary at The Ticket.
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