According to the latest polls, Mitt Romney will win the New Hampshire primary, but he has fallen 10 points in the last four days. The beneficiaries of Romney’s decline seem to be Ron Paul and John Huntsman.
Two debates were held in New Hampshire, one last Saturday and another on Sunday.
The other candidates took a number of shots at Romney. Newt Gingrich stated during a nationally televised debate that Romney should stop the “pious baloney” that he (Romney) is not a professional politician but a businessman motivated by disinterested patriotism to run for President. Romney, who was Governor of Massachusetts from 2003-2007 and has been running for President ever since, lacked an effective retort to Gingrich’s rebuke.
Out on the campaign trail, Romney’s rivals are raising questions about Romney’s claims of being a “job creator.” Apparently, Romney’s claim to have created “100,000 jobs” relies on questionable methodology. His opponents claim that Bain Capital, the company that Romney created and was CEO of, was a typical corporate predator. Twenty-two percent of the companies that Bain took over either declared bankruptcy or closed. Bain’s modus operandi was to raid the employees’ pension fund, cut wages and eliminate healthcare coverage for employees, and to sell off the companies’ assets, pocketing the cash and leaving what was left of the company to sink or swim.
Gingrich was quoted as saying that Romney “looted” the companies he took over.
Bain made $2.5 billion by such methods and also by outsourcing jobs.
Romney didn’t help himself over the last few days when he shot himself in the foot with a couple of gaffes. First, he said that there were a “couple of times” when he was worried about “getting a pink slip” (being fired). When reporters asked Romney’s campaign staff when it was that Romney was worried about losing his job, they couldn’t come up with an answer. Further investigation revealed that Romney had a special deal with Bain Capital that continued to pay him millions of dollars a year for several years after he left (Romney’s estimated net worth is about three-quarters of a billion dollars). When Rick Perry heard of Romney’s “pink slip” remark, Perry stated that Romney was certainly worried about pink slips, because Romney had eliminated so many jobs that Romney was worried he would run out of pink slips.
Romney’s second gaffe occurred when he answered a question about healthcare by saying that he liked “to be able to fire anyone who is providing a service” to him.
Romney’s rivals pounced. The irrepressible Perry put a recording of Romney’s statement on the answering machine of the phone at his campaign headquarters. John Huntsman stated that “Romney enjoys firing people, I enjoy creating jobs.” Because of the controversial practices of Bain Capital, this gaffe has “legs.”
Even with Romney dropping precipitously, he is still 13 points ahead of any of the other candidates according to the latest polls. He evidently is hoping to run out the clock for a win. It has been a rough four days for Romney, and for his campaign New Hampshire can’t be over quickly enough.
Paul Schwietering is a former Democratic state central committeeman. He lives in Union Township.