Romney Focus of Challengers at Republican Debate

Posted January 8th, 2012 at 2:25 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. presidential hopeful Mitt Romney endured criticism from fellow contenders for the Republican Party's nomination during Saturday's televised debate in New Hampshire, just days before that northeastern state's primary election.

Romney, the leading candidate for the nomination, was attacked by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, about his previous career running a private business investment firm. Many observers say the firm laid off hundreds of employees from their jobs, while making a profit for the investors.

“I'm not nearly as enamored of a wall street model where you can flip companies, and go in and have leverage buyouts. You can basically take out all the money leaving behind the workers.”

“Business experience doesn't necessarily match up with being the commander-in-chief of this country. The commander-in-chief of this country isn't a CEO. It's someone who has to, has to lead, and it's also – being the president is not a CEO. You can't direct, you know, members of Congress and members of the Senate as to how you do things. You've got to lead and inspire.”

Both Gingrich and Santorum are running as a more conservative alternative to Romney. But the former Massachusetts governor ignored his opponents and focused his criticism on the Democratic incumbent, President Barack Obama. Romney said Mr. Obama's economic policies have hurt the country, despite the recent decline in the nation's unemployment rate.

“So it's very good news and I hope we continue to see good news, but it's not thanks to President Obama. His policies have made the recession deeper and his policies have made the recovery more tepid.”

The three other remaining Republican candidates – U.S. Representative Ron Paul, Texas Governor Rick Perry and former U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman – spent much of the debate criticizing each other's credentials as much as they attacked Romney.

The six Republican contenders will participate in another nationally televised debate Sunday morning .

Romney narrowly defeated Santorum in last week's Iowa caucus, and holds a huge lead in voter opinion polls in New Hampshire. But he faces a more difficult challenge in the more conservative southern state of South Carolina, which holds its primary on January 21.