by Walter Brasch
AR Senior Correspondent
Jan. 15, 2012
MISS AMERICA: AUDITIONING FOR CENTER STAGE
BRADENTON, Fla., Jan. 9, 2011 (7:27PM ET) -- On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, Mitt Romney stuck his foot in his mouth so deep that the sole may have irritated his lower intestine.
"I like being able to fire people," the investment banker of Bain Capital, a turnaround-takeover firm that is among Wall Street's most successful, said at a comunity meeting in the Granite State Tuesday.
"Mitt Romney may be getting a dose of his own medicine," quipped reporter Michael Memoli in the Los Angeles Times.
Fotr many who heard, the words were painful reminders of their own firings in leveraged buyouts and takeovers that destroyed their jobs and ways of life. Men and women who worked hard even at marginal jobs lost the anchor that had once kept their homes, health care and childrens' educations from drumbling into the swift, mad stream of debris that is called the Great Recession.
To be sure, Mr. Romney was talking about insurance companies, not people, but as the voice clip circulates tonight and tomorrow, Mr. Romney's 12-point lead in New Hampshire is certain to slip.
Hungry challengers like onetime Utah Gov. and former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman and former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, as well as Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, have already seized on the words and made statements about them. A story about Huntsman's comment appeared in the online editions of the Times this afternoon..
"It seems that Governor Romney believes in putting politics first; Governor Romney enjoys firing people — I enjoy creating jobs. It may be that he’s slightly out of touch with the economic reality playing out in America right now, and that's a dangerous place to be,” the Times quoted Hunstman telling a crowd. Without explanation, the paper later cut the Huntsman comment - which was also aired on C-SPAN - from its story...
Here is the full comment Romney made at the Nashua, N.H., Chamber of Commerce Monday morning:
I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone doesn't give me the good service I need, I want to say, you know, I’m going to go get someone else to provide that service to me.
The remark caught Romney friends like right-wing talker Sean Hannity off-guard - Hannity is fixated these days on an Alice in Wonderland party at the White House, even as he pitches "economy uncertainty" to prospective gold buyers who may suffer enormous losses in coming months as the U.S. economy improves. It's hard to see Hannity talking about someone who likes firing folks in the same breath.
The Gingrich campaign launched a 27-minute Romney attack "movie" called "King of Bain: When Mitt Romney Came to Town" that shows Romney and Bain as people who stripped assets from struggling companies, loaded them up with new debt and bankrupted them, leaving thousands out of work.
The "movie," as Gingrich calls it, comes at a time when it has suddenly been learned that George Romney, Mitt's father, told NBC News, "we were driven out of Old Mexico" and forced to come to America as refugees dependent on government aid.
Another story on that topic will air on "Rock Center," the new NBC news show, at 10PM ET tonight. NBC anchor Brian Williams said the newly discovered archive tape from 1968 will be featured on tonight's discuasion of Romney's extended Mexican family. Be sure to see it: old man Romney's heat and passion is something we've never seen in Mitt, his son.
According to Wikipedia, George Romney was born before the Mexican Revolution among exiled Americans living in Mormon colonies there; as both Mormons and Mexicans who appeared to be Americans, the family was driven out of Mexico when he was a child.
George Romney was a 2-term governor of Michigan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and CEO of American Motors - manufacturers of the Rambler automobile - and 1964 Republican presidential candidate against the conservative Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater.
It is unclear, as a person born in Mexico, whether he would have been eligible to take the presidential oath of office.
Write AR Correspondent Joe Shea at email@example.com.