(Updates with Gingrich on Bain investments starting in fourth paragraph. For more 2012 campaign news, see ELECT.)
Jan. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said party front-runner Mitt Romney has “some very big questions to answer” about his time at private equity firm Bain Capital LLC and whether he chose profit over jobs.
“I don’t have much respect if you rig the game so you end up walking off with all the money,” Gingrich, a former U.S. House speaker, said today on Bloomberg Television.
Romney, who was the founder and chief executive officer of Bain Capital before serving one term as governor of Massachusetts, is leading in surveys as New Hampshire voters go to the polls today for the nation’s first presidential primary. Gingrich continued campaigning today in such cities as Manchester and Bedford as he increased his criticism of Romney and his stewardship at Bain Capital.
Gingrich, citing a report in the Wall Street Journal, said Bain Capital in one case invested $30 million in a company and later took $180 million out and “the company went bankrupt.”
“Should you really take out six times as much as you put it?” Gingrich said. “I’m for capitalism,” he said, yet “he’s got some very big questions to answer.”
He said the question is whether “these particular companies were being manipulated by the guys who invested in order to drain them of their money, leaving behind people who are unemployed.”
‘A Huge Problem’
“If he can’t explain it,” Gingrich said, then “I think he has a huge problem.”
Romney has defended his tenure at Bain Capital by saying that, on balance, its investments created more than 100,000 jobs.
Gingrich said that he expects Romney to win the New Hampshire primary after an eight-vote victory in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses and that “as long as we’re in the top group, we’ll be fine.”
The former House speaker said he plans to improve his standing in South Carolina, which holds its primary Jan. 21. The contest there, he said, will be between “a Reagan conservative and a Massachusetts moderate.”
--With assistance from Leslie Hoffecker in Washington. Editors: Leslie Hoffecker, Bob Drummond
To contact the reporters on this story: Roger Runningen in Washington at email@example.com; Peter Cook in Manchester, New Hampshire, at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at email@example.com