Hudson, New Hampshire (CNN) – In response to widening attacks on his record at a private equity firm and mockery over two recent comments about firings, Mitt Romney charged his rivals with putting free enterprise "on trial" Monday.
The candidate took questions from the press for the first time in a week as his campaign tried to tamp down self-inflicted damage a day before New Hampshire voters head to the polls.
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"I know free enterprise is on trial," Romney repeated as reporters peppered him with questions about an earlier comment that he "liked being able to fire people who provide services to me."
Democrats and Republicans alike seized on the remark, which quickly became a subject of ridicule on the campaign trail. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman immediately jabbed Romney for brushing off the middle class.
Meanwhile, a super PAC supportive of Newt Gingrich will spend an extremely large sum – $3.4 million – on television advertising in South Carolina targeting Romney over companies that were shuttered after being taken over by his firm.
"As we'll find out, free enterprise will be on trial," Romney said of the ads Monday. "I thought it was going to come from the president, from the Democrats, from the left, but instead it's coming from Speaker Gingrich and apparently others."
The GOP candidate added his remark about firing had been taken "out-of-context" and clarified he believed Americans should be able to "fire" their insurance companies.
"I believe in a setting as I described this morning where people are able to choose their own doctor choose their own insurance company. If they don't like their insurance company or their provider, they get rid of them," Romney said. "That's the way America works."
He said he had "broad shoulders" and could roll with the attacks on his career at Bain Capital – a tactic Democrats have signaled they would pursue if Romney becomes the GOP nominee.
"I understand in politics people can decide to grasp at anything and take it out of context and make it something it's not," Romney said.
The GOP candidate, who is running far ahead of his rivals in New Hampshire, also clarified his Sunday comment that he had worried about getting "a pink slip" at work.
Romney said when he begun working at a consulting firm after receiving his MBA, he had occasionally feared for his job.
"Like anybody who starts at the bottom of an enterprise you wonder when you don't do so well whether you're going to be able to hang on to your job and you wonder if the enterprise gets in trouble will you be one of those laid off," he said.
Santorum to South Carolina: 'Step up'
Romney feared being fired
Paul looking forward to South Carolina, caucus states
Perry makes play for Christian voters in South Carolina
Democrats maintain focus on Romney
So now, instead of providing his tax returns, Flipper the Robot gets all butt-hurt and runs to hide behind Gov. Christie's admittedly large skirt. What a flaccid field of candidates.
Everyday there is a post about E Warren. Is everyone posting on here from MA or are they just uninformed and have no idea what's going on in her Senate race? She made the mistake of trying to explain why she supported the bank bailouts during an event last week, it was also reported last week that her campaign has accepted several donations from lobbyists and from those same Wall St firms that she pretends to bash.
Don't get me wrong, politics are full of hypocrites...but she has to be tops of the list.
Speaking of stumbles that need to be addressed, what about the white house 09 Halloween party??? Kept very secret because of all the money spent on it during the recession.
Romney is another one of those guys who likes to attach near god-like status to CEOs and other senior executives. Having worked with many of these guys over the last couple of decades, I can tell you that most are no smarter than the average american, most are not innovators or long range thinkersm most are mediocre leaders at best, and most (like Mitt) owe their jobs to accidents of birth or social luck.
Flip-flop Romney is trying to put another flip on his flops. The statements unfortunately reveal a certain elitism and how out-of-touch Romney has been with regards to middle-class working Americans.
Did you notice how bright his eyes became when he said "i love to fire people"? Yes indeed, he LOVES to fire people.
Gurgi, why are you extreme rightwing nutjobs so focused on trivia? What proof do you public funds were involved? And more importantly, why do you radical deathcult members focus on trivia instead of the important issues, like how a small hidden elite has corrupted our government and economy? Of why your deathcult is ignoring the wishes of TWO THIRDS OF AMERICA (including half of GOP voters) for a millionaire's surtax and an end to the Bush tax cuts for the filthy rich? Your deathcult is obsessed with serving only the greedy and not the needy, and you think a freakin' party in 2009 is relevant or important. Wake up and focus on our real problems. No need to make things up or play trivia pursuit.
Mitt needs to get past these pesky republican complainers and get on to taking on Obama. Really, we can't wait for Obama to take Mitt apart the same way Mitt took apart businesses. Mitt will finally get that pink slip from the American public and hopefully fade into to sunset.
@greedy....typical liberal, no facts, no research , no reading comprehension skills, all you can do is call names and throw insults. You are so irrelevant that you are not worth carrying on a conversation with. By the way, I'm centrist independent, not right wing. Obama and his country damaging policies are the real problems.
Gurgi – Selective memory much? Remember the chanting at some GOP rallies back then? 'KILL HIM', now you remember?
"Truth", my friend, have you seen your doctor lately? If not, go ahead, and do it ASAP! Take my advice!