ANDERSON, SC -- Accusing front-runner Mitt Romney of causing painful layoffs in South Carolina during his leadership at a Boston private equity firm, Texas Gov. Rick Perry mocked the former Bain Capital CEO for claiming yesterday that he once feared losing his job.
"I have no doubt that Mitt Romney was worried about pink slips, whether he was going to have enough of them to hand out -- because his company Bain Capital and all the jobs that they killed," Perry said. "I'm sure he was worried that he would run out of pink slips."
The Texas governor was referring to a comment Romney made in New Hampshire yesterday, when he said, "There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip.” But as the New York Times notes, his campaign could not cite specific examples of Romney almost getting a pink slip, although a spokesman said that “as a young person just out of college, [Romney] worked his way up the career ladder knowing that his continued employment was by no means guaranteed.”
Perry -- who named a steel manufacturer in Georgetown, SC, and a photo album company in Gaffney that he says gutted jobs as a result of Bain's actions -- said that residents of those communities would be stunned by the remarks of "the son of a multi-millionaire."
"There's something inherently wrong when getting rich off failure and sticking it to someone else is how you do your business. I happen to think that is indefensible," he told the breakfast crowd of about 75 at Mama Penn's restaurant here in Anderson. "If you're a victim of Bain Capital's downsizing, it's the ultimate insult for Mitt Romney to come to South Carolina and tell you he feels your pain. Because he caused it."
The Texas governor continued to blast his rivals as a whole for being "insiders" chained to the DC status quo, although he did offer some complimentary words for Texas colleague Ron Paul when he asked if the famously anti-Fed congressman would make a good Federal Reserve chair.
"Congressman Paul would be an ideal person to head up the Fed and put a little fear in their heart," he replied after chuckling that Paul would "probably scare all of those people to death."
Perry, who hopes to score momentum from evangelicals in the Palmetto State, spoke at length about his faith, and joked that his identity as a Christian is fitting given his rocky moments as a candidate.
"God gives us what we can't give ourselves, and that's the gift of redemption," he said. "If you watch my debate performances, it's good to get a little bit of redemption every now and then. Get a second chance."
*** UPDATE *** Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul responds, "It is no surprise that, having spent nearly half a century in government between them, Speaker Gingrich and Gov. Perry have resorted to desperate attacks on a subject they don’t understand. We expect attacks on free enterprise from President Obama and his allies on the left – not from so-called ‘fiscal conservatives.’"