Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) - The chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party came to Mitt Romney's defense on Thursday after Romney's corporate past came under fire from two of his rivals in the GOP presidential race.
"I would like to see this all shake out where Republicans stick by Republican ideals," state party chairman Chad Connelly told CNN. "I am a big proponent of the free market even though it's harsh sometimes. Nobody likes to lose jobs."
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Both Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich have assailed Romney as a predatory venture capitalist more interested in his wallet than job creation, though they have ratcheted back their criticisms in the last day.
Several leading Republicans, including South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, have since defended Romney's record at the private equity firm Bain Capital in the 1980s and 1990s.
Connelly would not condemn Perry and Gingrich by name, but called himself "a big proponent of the free market" and said the debate over Romney's record is misguided.
"What I could like to see is for us to defend the free market and draw a clear distinction between what the free market does when it picks winners and losers, and what Obama has done he propped up a company like Solyndra with taxpayer dollars," he said.
Connelly admitted that in the heat of Republican primary, questions about a candidate's resume are "fair game."
But he also said that venture capital and private equity – the Bain practices being targeted by Romney's rivals - are part of the free market capitalist system that Republicans should embrace.
He said the questions raised about Romney's private sector experience would probably make him a better candidate in the long run.
"I am one of those people who thinks a candidate gets stronger when things get vetted out," Connelly said.
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Now many are asking Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich to turn down where they were 3 weeks back
Give me a break
Here again, there is nothing wrong with free market or what Bain did. But then don't pretend to be the "jobs guy" when you were the one who only cared about profit in business! Like most issues, it's the hypocracy of these candidates that is what infuriates us.
Say I'm for big business and profits and believe that is what atmerica is about.But then follow it up with, and the Obama administration didn't kill the jobs market- big business profiteers did. that's the guy I want to back- the honest one
Free market for repugnicans means the freedom to bribe lawmakers to write rules and laws allowing corporations to lie, cheat, and steal from consumers, shareholders and taxpayers without any consequences.
Life is about second chances, ask GM!
Romney Created 100,000 Jobs, President Obama Saved Millions!
While Romney Would Just watch the ship sink!
I thought being a capitalist and being a Republican went hand in hand?
nobody lost there jobs in communist countries..... i would rather take my chances with capitalism ...
Before we go any further, Romney needs to produce his birth certificate. His father was born in Mexico. Romney HAS to prove he's an American. Right now, it's doubtful since he's not shown anyone his birth certificate.
Let's look at what 'republican ideals' are. Greed, fear, hatred of anything new or anyone different. repubs will always put corporations ahead of people, money above all, and greed before any other motive. anyone other than a multimillionaire who votes for these totally corrupt hypocrites is a fool of the first magnitude.
Does any Republican candidate have a serious plan to improve our quality of life? and don't say – tax cuts to the top 3% – been through that, done that, doesn't work – somebody has to have a decent idea
Mr. Wall Street initiated Bain-directed Leverage buyout scheme. He will lose to Obama if he becomes the Republican nominee.
I laugh when I see a Republican bash Obama for proping up businesses. They always say we have a free market and it will sort that stuff out. We don't have a free market in this country... Chapter 11 bankruptcy, subsidies, R&D and governement (no-bid) contracts all prop up poorly managed companies that shouldn't be in business.
No one is attacking the free market. People are disputing Gov. Romney's claim that he is a job creator. Gov. Romney is a plutocrat sells money to make himself more money. His claim to have created 100,000 jobs is grossly misleading because Romney is also counting all of the jobs created *after* he left Bain full time. Presidents only get credit or blame for jobs created or lost during their terms.