As this year's field of Republican presidential candidates heads into Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, plenty of focus is on the leader of the pack -- Mitt Romney. The one-time Massachusetts governor is on familiar territory in the Granite State, and polls show Romney coasting to an easy win.
That's despite increased attacks from the likes of Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, who have questioned Romney's conservative credentials. Romney has largely weathered such attacks, but recent claims by the multimillionaire that he knows what it's like to worry about losing a job are drawing fire from critics as phony.
"I know what it's like to worry about whether you're going to get fired," Romney said in comments in Rochester, N.H., after Sunday's GOP debate. "There were a couple of times I wondered if I was going to get a pink slip," according to CBS News.
But his rivals were having none of it. While campaigning in South Carolina, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said it's not likely the former Bain Capital executive was worried about getting a pink slip, but rather "whether he was going to have enough of them to hand out," ABC News reports.
Perry, who is struggling with his own campaign for the Republican nomination, charged that Romney eliminated hundreds of jobs in South Carolina in the wake of downsizing at Bain Capital, which Romney co-founded and led for more than a dozen years in the 1980s and 1990s.
Former House Leader Newt Gingrich says Romney has benefited from the loss of thousands of jobs. "Bain, at times, engaged in behavior where they looted a company, leaving behind 1,700 unemployed people," Gingrich said in a weekend debate in Concord, N.H.
Speaking Monday morning on NBC's "Today Show," Gingrich defended his attacks on Romney, Reuters reports. "At some point Romney is going to have to hold a press conference and walk through, with considerable detail, some of the companies that Bain took over where they apparently looted the companies, left people totally unemployed and walked off with millions of dollars," Gingrich said on the program.
For his part, Romney repeated his claim that Bain invested in businesses that "have now added over 100,000 jobs," an assertion that USA Today calls "misleading."
Still, Romney continues to attract the support of key Republicans, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christy and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, both of whom see Romney as the most qualified presidential candidate to go up against President Barack Obama in the fall election.
Whether New Hampshire voters and those in other states will support Romney based on his claims that he knows what it's like to be an everyday worker remain to be seen. But the controversy that the claim has created won't likely die down anytime soon.
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