Tales from the Trail

Gingrich sheds doubt on Romney’s business past

Newt Gingrich raised questions about Mitt Romney’s private sector past at two back-to-back debates over the weekend in New Hampshire, returning to an allegation he made last month that Mitt Romney made a fortune at Bain by “bankrupting companies and laying off employees.”

A new report by the New York Times, Gingrich said, showed that Bain, the private equity firm co-founded by Romney, had “looted” one particular company (although it turns out he was actually referring to a Reuters story, written by Andy Sullivan and Greg Roumeliotis, about Bain’s investment in a Kansas City steel mill).

At Saturday night’s debate, moderator George Stephanopoulos asked Gingrich to address a new, “very scathing attack” by a pro-Gingrich Super PAC against Romney’s work at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he co-founded. The video, Stephanopoulos said, calls Romney’s “tenure ‘a story of greed’…saying that Bain made spectacular profits by ‘stripping American businesses of assets, selling everything to the highest bidder and often killing jobs for big financial rewards.’”

Gingrich said that while he is “very much for free enterprise,” he’s less “enamored of a Wall Street model where you can flip companies, you can go in and have leveraged buyouts, you can basically take out all the money, leaving behind the workers.”

“Is that the Bain model?” asked Stephanopoulos.

“You have to look at the New York Times coverage of one particular company,” he said.

162 New Hampshire visits later, Huntsman hopes for late surge

Jon Huntsman Jr. has dedicated his entire campaign to doing well in New Hampshire. That’s meant multiple visits to small places like the northern town of Littleton, pop. 6,000, where Huntsman appeared for a photo opportunity at the local diner.

Unfortunately for Huntsman there were only four people (reporters aside) at the restaurant when he arrived — and none of them knew he was coming. One couple waved off his approach, saying, “We’re from Vermont.”

The second couple, John and Arlyne Kimball, had attended a Huntsman event earlier in the campaign in the nearby town of Whitefield and were annoyed that Huntsman had interrupted Arlyne in the midst of a question there about the Federal Reserve.

Romney quizzed by Occupy protesters at N.H. town hall meeting

Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney got off to an awkward start back in New Hampshire on Wednesday when the first question he took at a town hall meeting was from an Occupy protester.

Fresh off his narrow win in Iowa, Romney was making his first campaign appearance ahead of the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 10 when the questioner – who said he was from both the Occupy New Hampshire and Occupy Boston protest groups against economic inequality – raised his hand and asked a question about corporate greed.

“You have said that corporations are people, but in the last two years corporate profits have surged to record highs directly at the expense of wages,” the man said. “It seems that the U.S. is a great place to be a corporation, but increasingly a desperate place to live and work.”

Paul trumpets small-town newspaper endorsements in N.H.

In a tight campaign, even the smallest bit of good news counts. Ron Paul’s campaign is claiming three recent newspaper endorsements in New Hampshire’s scarcely populated “north country.” A local newspaper chain that owns weeklies in Littleton (pop. 6,000), Lancaster (pop. 3,300) and Berlin (pop. 9,300) decided to back the Texan following his third place finish in Iowa.

“[Paul's] prediction that the United States can no longer afford the economic cost of our overseas commitments makes many Republicans uncomfortable, possibly by the very truth of the assertion,” the editors of the Salmon Press wrote.

“Powerful leaders like Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan change the political landscape,” the editors concluded. “This is what Ron Paul would do for our country and why we support him.”

Romney sons stump for their “extraordinarily cheap” father in Iowa


Tagg Romney calls voters from New Hampshire campaign headquarters, December 29, 2011.

By Eric Johnson

Undecided Iowa voters wondering just how Mitt Romney managed to salvage the cash-strapped and fraud-wracked Olympic games in 2002 and leave it with a rainy-day fund of roughly $100 million, should ask his son, Tagg.

“My dad is extraordinarily cheap,” said Tagg, 41, who stumped for his dad at a boisterous “Rock the Caucus” event at a high school outside of Des Moines.

“Mittens” Romney? Americans don’t know Republican frontrunner’s real name

Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney’s real first name is not Mitt – and it’s not Gromit or Mittens either.

According to a new 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll released on Tuesday, only 6 percent of respondents knew that the former Massachusetts governor’s first name is actually Willard. Mitt is his middle name.

About 20 percent of voters thought Romney’s first name was Mitt, 18 percent thought it was Mitchell and 8 percent picked Milton, while Gromit and Mittens received 2 percent each. Forty four percent said they didn’t know what his real name was.

Mitt Romney says Obama breaks vows, just like Kim Kardashian

President Barack Obama and reality television celebrity Kim Kardashian have something in common, according to Mitt Romney – they don’t know how to keep a promise.

“I’ve been looking at some video clips on YouTube of President Obama, then-candidate Obama, going through Iowa, making promises,” Romney said during a campaign stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Sunday.

“I think the gap between his promises and his performance is the largest I’ve seen, well, since the Kardashian wedding and the promise of until death do we part,” said the Republican presidential candidate.

Santorum momentum doesn’t transfer to New Hampshire

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has seen his star rise in Iowa, where polls show him moving into third place behind Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. But in New Hampshire he’s still mired in the fourth tier of Republican candidates. Two new polls out today show Romney with a wide lead in the Granite State and Ron Paul running second with Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich tied for fourth.

Santorum is buried at 3 percent in one of the polls, by Suffolk University, and at 4 percent in the second, by Magellan Strategies–about even with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Still, Santorum is making a push in the state with a release today claiming he has 23 endorsements from New Hampshire state legislators and the announcement yesterday that he would buy television time for a new ad making the case that he is the Republican most likely to defeat President Obama in the general election.

Four and a half Romney men


Josh, Joe (Tagg’s son), Craig, Tagg and Matt in Manchester.

The impossibly handsome, all-American foursome that walked into the Windham Restaurant on Thursday morning might have meant that a Ralph Lauren photo shoot was getting under way. Or it could have just meant that the Romney boys were back in town.

With Papa Romney busy campaigning in Iowa, four of his five sons — Tagg, Matt, Josh and Craig — as well as his grandson, Joe, stumped for the candidate in New Hampshire, regaling voters with stories of Mitt and his various exploits as family man extraordinaire, legendary household tightwad, savior of the Salt Lake City Olympics, and so on.

In their almost-matching outfits, down to the white checked shirts often favored by their famous father, the Romney boys seemed eerily reminiscent of that other good-looking Mormon group, the Osmonds.

Perry attacks more conservative rivals, ignores Romney

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s latest ads don’t even bother attacking Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney. With polls showing him in fifth place among Republicans in Iowa and seventh in New Hampshire, Perry’s aim is now to emerge as one of the top two conservative options to Romney.

To get there, he needs to knock off some of the other candidates polling immediately in front of him — which is why his latest TV ad in Iowa attacks Rep. Ron Paul, Rep. Michele Bachmann, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and ex-Sen. Rick Santorum, but doesn’t mention Romney.

“The fox guarding the hen house is like asking a congressman to fix Washington,” the ad’s narrator says. “Bad idea. Their years in Congress left us with debt and bailouts.”