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Romney pushes back on Bain attacks


ROCHESTER, N.H. -- The lights were barely cool on the debate stage in Concord before Mitt Romney was back on the campaign trail, defending his record at Bain Capital.

"We decided to get behind a company called Staples which I knew you would know well. We decided okay you know how many people work at Staples? Ninety thousand people work at Staples today," Romney said at a rally here this afternoon. "We opened the very first store. I was there the night we opened the first store. We helped stock the shelves. Alright guess how much money we put in to get that first door open to get the computers in place and to buy the inventory to put on the shelves? It was about $5 million if my memory's correct - something in that range."

The story of Staples' success is the most common anecdote Romney uses on the trail to explain his tenure at Bain Capital, the venture capital firm he helped found, but the candidate rarely delves as far as he did into the macro numbers of jobs created and dollars spent. But as his record at Bain begins to come under increasing scrutiny -- from both sides of the aisle -- Romney may also have to defend it more aggressively, as he has done in recent days.

This morning in Concord, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, referencing a New York Times story, accused Bain of occasionally looting the companies in which it invested.

"But if you look at the New York Times article, and I think it was on Thursday -- you would certainly have to say that Bain, at times, engaged in behavior where they looted a company, leaving behind 1,700 unemployed people. That's the New York Times.  That's not me," Gingrich said.  

And this morning on ABC's This Week, President Obama's chief political adviser David Axelrod was even more blunt, calling into question whether Romney's claim of creating 100,000 jobs "net/net" while at Bain had any factual basis.

"The problem is that neither he nor his campaign can furnish any evidence to support that," Axelrod said. " He's not a job creator, he's a corporate raider."

Saturday in Manchester, Romney faced a similar question from moderator George Stephanopoulos, who asked if Romney's 100,000 jobs number included those jobs lost when companies in which Bain invested laid off workers, failed, or were pushed into bankruptcy.

"It includes the net of both. I’m a good enough numbers guy to make sure I got both sides of that," Rommey said, before listing three companies Bain helped launch whose jobs numbers alone he said put him over the 100,000 threshold: Staples, The Sports Authority and Bright Horizons Children's Center.

"Those -- those are businesses we started that continue to grow. And -- and we’re only a small part of that, by the way. We were investors to help get them going," Romney said, when asked whether some of those jobs were created after his involvement with the company ended. "But in some cases, businesses shrunk. We tried to help turn them around, sometimes successfully, sometimes not."

Romney, whose candidacy rests largely on his private sector experience, can likely be expected to continue to pound home his central message, as he did at this afternoon's rally.

"This president is a nice guy who just doesn't get it. I spent my life in the private sector," Romney said. "I'm not perfect, but I do get it, and I will use what I know to get America back to work."