Republican Foes Try To Brand Romney As Elitist

The labels being attached to Republican U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney seem to be straight out of the Democrats' playbook.

Elitist. Job killer. Out of touch.

Using Romney's own words against him, foes of the Republican front-runner and venture capitalist essentially are casting him as an enemy of the middle class in a time of economic peril.

That the accusers are fellow Republicans - Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman - is a reflection of their increasing desperation to stop Romney, and of what analysts say could be a weakness for Romney as the campaign for the November election moves on.

The latest Romney comment to draw fire came on Monday in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Speaking to a business group, Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, answered a question about healthcare systems by saying, "I like to be able to fire people who provide services to me."

In heated campaign fueled by sound bites, the context hardly mattered. Soon afterward, Huntsman pounced.

"Governor Romney enjoys firing people; I enjoy creating jobs," said Huntsman, a former Utah governor whose slim hopes in the Republican campaign rest on a strong finish in New Hamshire's primary on Tuesday. "It may be that he's slightly out of touch with the economic reality playing out in America right now, and that's a dangerous place to be."

But Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist, said the attacks actually might help Romney.

"These seem to be the lines of attack that the Democratic National Committee and President Obama will take to Romney if he becomes the nominee," O'Connell said.

"It's probably better that it is coming out now and not in a general election. This could make him stronger - if he can overcomethem."

Read more from Tim Reid at Reuters

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published this page in In The News 2012-01-09 22:30:00 -0500
Analysis & Political Strategy