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Opponents target Romney finances, to little effect

 Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney campaigns at the Florence Civic Center in Florence, S.C., Tuesday, Jan. 17, ...
 Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney campaigns at the Florence Civic Center in Florence, S.C., Tuesday, Jan. 17, ...
 Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, accompanied by his wife Callista, speaks at a campaign town hall at the Art Tr...
 Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is reflected in a car window as leaves the Art Trail Gallery during a campaign ...

Romney 2012

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney campaigns at the Florence Civic Center in Florence, S.C., Tuesday, Jan. 17, ...

Romney 2012

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney campaigns at the Florence Civic Center in Florence, S.C., Tuesday, Jan. 17, ...

Gingrich 2012

Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, accompanied by his wife Callista, speaks at a campaign town hall at the Art Tr...

APTOPIX Gingrich 2012

Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is reflected in a car window as leaves the Art Trail Gallery during a campaign ...

Mitt Romney's opponents for the Republican presidential nomination persist in attacking the front-runner over how he made his vast fortune, but the issue has found little resonance in the business-friendly party electorate.
The latest assault came from Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, who said the former Massachusetts governor had engaged in exploitive capitalism as a businessman. The effectiveness of that attack will be tested in the South Carolina primary on Saturday. Romney has already won, if narrowly, the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.
Conventional wisdom holds he likely will have the nomination locked up if he continues that winning streak in South Carolina, the first Southern state to vote. That would make him the party's standard-bearer against President Barack Obama in the November election.
Romney says his business experience makes him better prepared than Obama to rebuild the wobbly U.S. economy. The slow recovery from the Great Recession, which began in the final months of the presidency of George W. Bush, has left Obama deeply vulnerable as he runs for a second White House term.
After resisting calls to open his tax records for public scrutiny _ a tradition for presidential candidates in recent decades _ Romney this week said he would consider in April making his returns public. April is the month when Americans must file income taxes with the federal government. Many candidates in the past have balked but always ended up releasing their returns.
He said Tuesday the returns would show he paid about 15 percent of his income to the federal government. That's far less than if his earnings were wages rather than gains from investments and dividends. The top tax rate for wages is 35 percent on taxable income above $388,350. Wages are also subject to Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes, while investment earnings are not.
Romney is sensitive about his wealth because increasing numbers of Americans are angry about the extraordinary growth in the percentage of the country's wealth that is in the hands of the few.
Romney's fortune, estimated at between $170 million and $250 million, is thought to largely be a result of his work as head of Bain Capital, a firm that specialized in buying up other companies. While some prospered, others did poorly, and Romney's opponents charge him with sucking capital out of the failing enterprises, laying off workers and allowing the firms to collapse into bankruptcy.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a strong Romney ally, urged the candidate to immediately release his tax returns rather than waiting until April: "Put them out sooner than later because it's always better to have full disclosure."
Many Republicans had hoped the tough-talking Christie would seek the nomination. He has declined but told NBC television he wouldn't rule out joining a Romney ticket.
Gingrich's comments before a gathering of business leaders in South Carolina on Tuesday contained some of his harshest rhetoric yet. Gingrich said that, in at least some instances, the Bain model has meant "leverage the game, borrow the money, leave the debt behind and walk off with all the profits."
"Now, I'll let you decide if that's really good capitalism. I think it's exploitive. I think it's not defensible," he said.
Gingrich has faced rebuke from some conservatives who accuse him of attacking the Republican bedrock of free enterprise. But he argued Tuesday that raising questions about Romney's record at Bain should not be confused with an attack on capitalism.
Gingrich gained an endorsement of sorts from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the party's vice presidential nominee in 2008. The Fox News contributor told the network Tuesday night that she would vote for Gingrich in the South Carolina primary if she could.
Also still in competition for the Republican nomination are former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, Texas governor Rick Perry and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
Santorum, who finished just eight votes behind Romney in the Iowa caucuses, released a new TV ad that compares Romney to Obama by claiming that both supported Wall Street bailouts and similar health care reform plans and are liberal on social issues.
Perry has been at the front of the charge to force Romney to release his tax records. Paul, a small-government libertarian, has focused his campaign on shrinking federal power, withdrawing the U.S. military from overseas and a return to the gold standard for the American currency.


Updated : 2021-10-19 10:10 GMT+08:00