Romney Defends Attacks During Monday's SC Debate

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) -- Under heavy debate pressure from his rivals, Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney defended his record as a venture capitalist, insisted he bears no responsibility for attack ads aired by his allies and grudgingly said in campaign debate Monday night he might release his income tax returns this spring.

"I have nothing in them that suggests there's any problem and I'm happy to do so," he said. "I sort of feel like we're showing a lot of exposure at this point," he added.

Romney came under criticism from Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum across two hours in the first of a pair of debates in the run-up to this weekend's first-in-the-South primary in South Carolina. The former Massachusetts governor won the first two events of the campaign, the Iowa caucuses and last week's New Hampshire primary, leads in the pre-primary polls in South Carolina and won an endorsement from campaign dropout Jon Huntsman earlier in the day.

Gingrich has virtually conceded that a victory for Romney in South Carolina would assure his nomination as Democratic President Barack Obama's Republican rival in the fall, and none of the other remaining contenders has challenged that conclusion.

That only elevated the stakes for Monday night's debate, feisty from the outset as former House Speaker Gingrich, Texas Gov. Perry and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum sought to knock Romney off stride while generally being careful to wrap their criticism in anti-Obama rhetoric.

"We need to satisfy the country that whoever we nominate has a record that can stand up to Barack Obama in a very effective way," said Gingrich.

The five men on stage also sought to outdo one another in calling for lower taxes.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul won that competition handily, saying he thought the top personal tax rate should be zero.

In South Carolina, a state with a heavy military presence, the tone turned muscular at times.

Gingrich drew strong applause when he said: "Andrew Jackson had a pretty clear idea about America's enemies. Kill them."

Perry also won favor from the crowd when he said the Obama administration had overreacted in criticizing Marines who were videotaped urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

The former House speaker and Perry led the assault against Romney's record at Bain Capital, a private equity firm that bought companies and sought to remake them into more competitive enterprises, with uneven results.

"There was a pattern in some companies ... of leaving them with enormous debt and then within a year or two or three having them go broke," Gingrich said. "I think that's something he ought to answer."

Perry referred to a steel mill in Georgetown, S.C. where, he said, "Bain swept in, they picked that company over and a lot of people lost jobs there."

Romney said that the steel industry was battered by unfair competition from China. As for other firms, he said, "Four of the companies that we invested in ... ended up today having some 120,000 jobs.

"Some of the businesses we invested in were not successful and lost jobs," he acknowledged.

It was Perry who challenged Romney, a multimillionaire, to release his income tax returns. The Texas governor said he has already done so, adding he believes Gingrich will do likewise later in the week.

"Mitt, we need for you to release your income tax so the people of this country can see how you made your money. ... We cannot fire our nominee in September. We need to know now."

Later, a debate moderator pressed Romney on releasing his tax returns.

His answer was anything but crisp.

"But you know if that's been the tradition I'm not opposed to doing that. Time will tell. But I anticipate that most likely I'm going to get asked to do that in the April time period and I'll keep that open," he said.

Prodded again, he said, "I think I've heard enough from folks saying look, you know, let's see your tax records. I have nothing in them that suggests there's any problem and I'm happy to do so. I sort of feel like we're showing a lot of exposure at this point, and if I become our nominee and what's happened in history is people have released them in about April of the coming year and that's probably what I'd do."

Santorum stayed away from the clash over taxes, instead starting a dispute of his own. He said a campaign group supporting Romney has been attacking him for supporting voter rights for convicted felons, and asked Romney what his position was on the issue.

Romney initially ducked a direct answer, preferring to ask Santorum if the ad was accurate.

He then said he doesn't believe convicted violent felons should have the right to vote, even after serving their terms. Santorum instantly said that as governor of Massachusetts, Romney hadn't made any attempt to change a law that permitted convicted felons to vote while still on parole, a law that the former Pennsylvania senator said was more liberal than the one he has been assailed for supporting.

Romney replied that as Republican governor, he was confronted with a legislature that was heavily Democratic and held a different position.

He also reminded Santorum that candidates have no control over the campaign groups that have played a pivotal role in the race to date.

"It is inaccurate," Santorum said of the ad assailing him, seeking the last word. "I would go out and say, `Stop it. That you're representing me and you're representing my campaign. Stop it.'"

That issue returned more than an hour later, when Gingrich said he, too, faces false attacks from the same group that is criticizing Santorum. He noted that Romney says he lacks sway over the group, "which makes you wonder how much influence he would have if he were president."

Romney said he hoped no group would run inaccurate ads, and he said the organization backing Gingrich was airing a commercial that is so false that "it's probably the biggest hoax since bigfoot."

He called for scuttling the current system of campaign finance laws to permit individuals to donate as much money as they want to the candidates of their choice.

Noting that the debate was occurring on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, one moderator asked Gingrich if his previous statements about poor children lacking a work ethic were "insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans?

"No," he said emphatically, adding his aim was to break dependence on government programs.

"I'm going to continue to find ways to help poor people learn how to get a job, learn to get a better job and learn someday to own the job," he said.

Romney is the leader in the public opinion polls in South Carolina, although his rivals hope the state's 9.9 percent unemployment rate and the presence of large numbers of socially conservative evangelical voters will allow one of them to slip by him.

Huntsman was the second campaign dropout to endorse Romney, after former Minnesota Gov. Tom Pawlenty. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who quit after a last-place finish in Iowa, has not yet said which of the remaining contenders she supports. Herman Cain, who left the race in December after facing allegations of sexual impropriety, has promised an endorsement soon.

Huntsman's parting announcement included a reference to the differences he and Romney had. But he left the podium without responding to questions about his remark last week, in the run-up to the New Hampshire primary, that Romney was unelectable and out of touch.

It was unclear why Romney did not attend the announcement. He was in town for a later campaign appearance and then the debate.

You must be logged in to post comments.

Password (case sensitive):
Remember Me:

Read Comments

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Lavon Location: Goldsboro on Jan 17, 2012 at 11:53 AM
    Willard spent 10million dollars in Iowa and only beat Santorum (A Nobody) by only 8 votes. Now what does that tell you?
    • reply
      by Obama Snake Oil co on Jan 18, 2012 at 07:14 AM in reply to Lavon
      Tells me its anybody but Obama!
  • by Barlow Location: Winterville on Jan 17, 2012 at 10:42 AM
    Mitt admited he is in that 15% tax bracket last night, all his money from investments. Just a good old boy like the rest of y'all. He also told at least 3 quick lies about Obama (sure there were more). He said Obama wanted to cut a trillion from the defense budget when Obama wants to cut less than half that, that Obama hasn't cut any trade deals, and that Obama doesn't have a jobs plan (even Snake knows that isn't true). I'm starting to worry Obama will have TOO MUCH on this guy by election time. Mittens is just the gift that keeps on giving.
    • reply
      by ******* on Jan 17, 2012 at 12:06 PM in reply to Barlow
      Obama is going to eat this guy alive.
      • reply
        by Ha Ha Ha on Jan 17, 2012 at 01:43 PM in reply to *******
        In your dreams, Obama couldn't beat my dog in a debate. Without being told what to say he is history. The only reason he ever beat Hillary is because he is 1/2 black and everyone was afraid of being labeled racist. Well, you don't have that to your advantage any more, now he has a piss poor record that is fair game regardless of race, so bye-bye Obama, you are toast!!
  • by Lavon and Burley on Jan 17, 2012 at 10:20 AM
    1. Back in 1961 people of color were called ‘Negroes.’ So how can the Obama ‘birth certificate’ state he is ‘African-American’ when the term wasn’t used at that time? 2. The birth certificate that the White House released lists Obama’s birth as August 4, 1961. It also lists Barack Hussein Obama as his father. No big deal, right? At the time of Obama’s birth, it also shows that his father is aged 25 years old, and that Obama’s father was born in ” Kenya, East Africa “. This wouldn’t seem like anything of concern, except the fact that Kenya did not even exist until 1963, two whole years after Obama’s birth, and 27 years after his father’s birth. How could Obama’s father have been born in a country that did not yet exist? Up and until Kenya was formed in 1963, it was known as the “British East Africa Protectorate”. 3. On the birth certificate released by the White House, the listed place of birth is “Kapi’olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital”. This cannot be, because the hospital(s) in question in 1961 were called “KauiKeolani Children’s Hospital“ and ”Kapi’olani Maternity Home”, respectively. The name did not change to Kapi’olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital until 1978, when these two hospitals merged. How can this particular name of the hospital be on a birth certificate dated 1961 if this name had not yet been applied to it until 1978?
  • by Anonymous on Jan 17, 2012 at 08:28 AM
    It's sad that people actually think any of the candidates running other than Ron Paul would offer any real change. If you take a look at the issues Mitt Romney has almost all the same positions as Obama. Ron Paul is the only hope, anyone else is just more of the same.
    • reply
      by Anon on Jan 17, 2012 at 09:05 AM in reply to
      What is even sadder is those who don't realize that Ron Paul is as far right as Obama is far left. He could never win the presidency even if he did get the nomination. Newt would be the best candidate but Romney will probably win the nomination and certainly beat Obama. Even though Romney would not be my first choice, he will do a much better job than Obama has done, that is certain.
      • reply
        by Obama Snake Oil co on Jan 17, 2012 at 09:57 AM in reply to Anon
        As soon as Ron Paul said it was OK for Iran to have nuclear arms, he lost us. Iran has said publically, if and when the do, they will blow up Israel. Does the term WW III mean anything to you?
        • reply
          by Anon on Jan 17, 2012 at 10:44 AM in reply to Obama Snake Oil co
          Was your post meant for "Anonymous"? Just curious.
        • reply
          by Obama Snake Oil co on Jan 17, 2012 at 12:15 PM in reply to Obama Snake Oil co
          Yep! You know me, anybody but Obama again. Ageed with yours, just perplexed by the Anonymous poster.
      • reply
        by wake-up on Jan 17, 2012 at 12:04 PM in reply to Anon
        Really? Newt is the icon of corruption in Washington, or have your forgot that small unrelated item?
        • reply
          by Eyes Wide Open on Jan 17, 2012 at 01:45 PM in reply to wake-up
          My eyes are wide open, it is you who needs to take the blinders off. Newt is smarter than any of them up there, including the failure of a president. Probably won't win the nomination but he should. Who knows, Obama won it so stranger things have happened! By the way, always remember and never forget EVERY politician is corrupt.
  • by HERE Location: HERE on Jan 17, 2012 at 05:59 AM
    With these clowns running this country is very, very screwed indeed. Each one of them is just telling people what they want to hear. Same answers, different election. If anyone of these blowhards get elected president there will be no change in Washington, just more policical discourse.
  • by GOP Supporter on Jan 17, 2012 at 05:31 AM
    Sure does sound like a bunch of you Obama supporters are pretty worried about the election. If you weren't why would you be spending the time, late at night, watching the republican primary debates? Why not just wait and watch the debates between Obama and the republican nominee? Why spend your time on this forum trying to convince others that the republicans are all wrong? Do you know that nobody is going to change their minds based on your ranting? Don't want to hear how you do it for enjoyment, nobody (with the exception of those studying political science) in their right mind enjoys watching politics on either side of the isle. Obama is going to be a one term president, deep down you all know it and every one of these candidates scare the tar out of you. Relax, the republican who will take office in early 2013 will be better for everyone than Obama has been, I promise you that. For the record, I NEVER waste my time on democratic primaries, I wait until the real debates start and base my vote on the real candidates and yes I do vote for the democrat on occasion. I, unlike most of you, am not afraid to vote on both sides of the isle based on record and platform. Too bad Obama has neither to run on this go around, he buried himself very nicely in his first 3 useless years.
    • reply
      by Lavon on Jan 17, 2012 at 05:58 AM in reply to GOP Supporter
      LOL!!! Thats the funniest post of the day LOL!!
      • reply
        by Obama Snake Oil co on Jan 17, 2012 at 06:24 AM in reply to Lavon
        Lavon, you should be supporting Vermin Supreme or the guy from the "Rent is too dang high" Party. They stand a better chance to be elected than Obimbo.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Jan 17, 2012 at 11:52 AM in reply to Obama Snake Oil co
          Is that your generic candidate? The GOP was trying to contact him when Perry went down in flames.
    • reply
      by Rick James on Jan 17, 2012 at 11:56 AM in reply to GOP Supporter
      Cocaine is a very addictive drug, seek help.
      • reply
        by GOP Supporter on Jan 17, 2012 at 01:45 PM in reply to Rick James
        I guess you would know, I have never touched the stuff. Sorry for your addiction.
    • reply
      by And... on Jan 18, 2012 at 06:14 AM in reply to GOP Supporter
      Too bad all the GOP can come up with is klowns. If they had a good canidate I would vote for them . The emotion you see is the sad klown syndrome , deep sorrow that all you came up with is a bunch of clowns. UHey you think George duBYa will be invited to speak at the big GOP klown show?
  • by Lavon Location: Goldsboro on Jan 17, 2012 at 05:13 AM
    Newt Gingrich needs to accept the fact that his pathetic candidacy is over. He needs to call it quits and take his stiff looking wife and go home.
    • reply
      by LOL on Jan 17, 2012 at 07:11 AM in reply to Lavon
      If you think Michelle Obama looks any better than Calista Gingrich you are dillusional and in serious need of some new glasses. Why do you attack the candidates spouses anyway? Never mind, I already know the answer. You can't defend Obama's policies, you can't attack the republican candidates proposed policies with fact so you will do the only thing you have left to do, the thing that Obama will do, personal attacks that in the end mean NOTHING and will fail, just like the ONE TERM Obama presidency. Get out that frying pan, I will freeze the crow for you now, lol.
      • reply
        by Reality Check on Jan 17, 2012 at 11:50 AM in reply to LOL
        Michelle wins, hands down no comparison. Calista needs some color in her, looks like she saw a ghost. And whats with that plywood hair style, if you can call it a style. Looks like someone from Leave it to Beaver show. That's one ugly woman!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jan 17, 2012 at 07:21 AM in reply to Lavon
      Stiff looking wife ?? At least she doesn't have that linebacker look of Michelle
      • reply
        by Lavon on Jan 17, 2012 at 08:20 AM in reply to
        Anonymous. Linebacker? Lol I gotta give you that one, that was funny
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Jan 17, 2012 at 09:10 AM in reply to Lavon
          Lavon, Tim Tebow would give anything to have shoulders like Michelle Obama. LOL
      • reply
        by Duhhhhh on Jan 17, 2012 at 11:44 AM in reply to
        Calista Gingrich looks like she still has a Football helmet on. Kinda looks like Mr.Burns from the Simpsons.
        • reply
          by Obama Snake Oil Co on Jan 17, 2012 at 12:18 PM in reply to Duhhhhh
          Wrong post, that should be on the gay marriage DADT post under got to be kidding.
    • reply
      by And... on Jan 18, 2012 at 06:18 AM in reply to Lavon
      Dough boy is just doing a tax free all paid for book tour , later he will go back and be a revisionist historian for a couple million, dont worry he , like all the GOP have great empathy for poor black people.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 17, 2012 at 04:49 AM
    I don't care much for Mitt, but I wish he would simplify what Bain used to do. Heres my take.... say a company with 1000 employees is going bankrupt. Yes, Bain may come in and lay off 100 employees but at the same time that saved the job of the 900 other employees. So, 900 people retained their jobs, the company was saved for future expansion and Bain made a profit in the deal. Sounds pretty good to me.
    • reply
      by just facts on Jan 17, 2012 at 05:21 AM in reply to
      In October 1993, Bain Capital, co-founded by Mitt Romney, became a majority shareholder in a steel mill that had been operating since 1888. The mill, renamed GS Technologies, needed expensive updating, and demand for its products was susceptible to cycles in the mining industry and commodities markets. Less than a decade later, the mill was padlocked and some 750 people lost their jobs. Workers were DENIED the severance pay and health insurance they'd been PROMISED, and their pension benefits were cut by as much as $400 (258 pounds) a month. What's more, a federal government insurance agency had to pony up $44 million to bail out the company's underfunded pension plan. Nevertheless, Bain profited on the deal, receiving $12 million on its $8 million initial investment and at least $4.5 million in consulting fees.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Jan 17, 2012 at 07:27 AM in reply to just facts
        if this article is true, yes it's bad. Now show me the same stats on the companies he saved..... waiting.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Jan 17, 2012 at 11:38 AM in reply to
          Don't worry, Romney will be quick to point them out, do you think he wants you to know the dark side of his story? Come on man.....use your brains....
    • reply
      by Ralph on Jan 17, 2012 at 11:41 AM in reply to
      I bet you also thought the females coming out against Herman Cain was also was nothing to be concerned about, no big deal, It will just blow over. Guess what??
  • by A Kodak Moment on Jan 17, 2012 at 03:50 AM
    Mitt if you let Rick Santorum bait you into a bad, flip flop answer, you are definitely not ready for the presidency­. Like a Deer caught in a cars headlight look...Brain Freeze.
    • reply
      by Barlow on Jan 17, 2012 at 06:09 AM in reply to A Kodak Moment
      Speakin of deer, Mitt didn't know whether he was out hunting moose or elk. Maybe he and Cheney can go hunting together sometime. LOL
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Jan 17, 2012 at 07:30 AM in reply to Barlow
        President Obama's lack of experience with royalty was on full display today in England as he mistakenly began a toast to the Queen of England , President Obama flubbed his remarks to troops at Fort Drum Thursday when he told the US Army's 10th Mountain Division , President Obama turned a group photo op at the United Nations Tuesday into a photo flop when he tossed a wave of the hand, blocking the camera, President Barack Obama sees his secretary of defense just about every day, but he still flubbed Robert Gates' name on Thursday.......... Lavon, do you think anyone is PERFECT ??? not
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jan 17, 2012 at 11:36 AM in reply to A Kodak Moment
      Ha ha, wait until President Obama get a chance to call him on all the GOP rhetoric he and his party have been spewing. Romney is gonna need mental help after this election, he can sign up along with Scott Walker, Boehner and Mitch.
  • by Krazy gop on Jan 17, 2012 at 03:29 AM
    The Republican­s- Keep the jobs and economy down and then campaign on jobs and economy...(CYNICAL)
    • reply
      by Obama Snake Oil co on Jan 17, 2012 at 12:20 PM in reply to Krazy gop
      Make sure you stand on a hilltop and face north when they beam you up. If you can get loan you his tinfoil hat or Vermin Supreme to loan you his boot, it will speed up the process.
      • reply
        by And... on Jan 18, 2012 at 06:22 AM in reply to Obama Snake Oil co
        You forgot to tell him about your magic underwear that matches your tinfoil hat , helps bring in the faux news transmissions better.
        • reply
          by Obama Snake Oil co on Jan 18, 2012 at 07:20 AM in reply to And...
          And Vermin Supreme weighs in....
  • Page:

275 E. Arlington Blvd. Greenville, NC 27858 252-439-7777
Copyright © 2002-2016 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 137460233 -
Gray Television, Inc.