The conservative, tea party-aligned group Americans for Prosperity is jumping into the Republican primary fray, denouncing attacks by some members of the GOP field on Mitt Romney’s tenure as head of Bain Capital.
“The American people deserve a vigorous campaign of contrasts on the records of candidates and their policy proposals, not heavy-handed, populist tinged attacks on free enterprise,” Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips said in a statement Wednesday.
“While Americans for Prosperity has never, and will not endorse candidates for office, we are disappointed to see attacks from some Republican presidential candidates on Mitt Romney and Bain Capital, which sink to the level of some of the worst anti-free market, class envy politics constantly pushed by the Obama Administration and those in the Occupy camps,” he added.
While the group says that it does not “endorse candidates for office,” it has been a powerful player on the political scene since its formation in 2004, targeting candidates and spending millions of dollars on issue ads.
Phillips did not mention any of the other GOP candidates by name, but rather chided the group as a whole: “Republican candidates who believe in the free market know better than to adopt the misguided and disingenuous tactics employed by those on the far left, which demonize successful entrepreneurs and stir up discontent to be used as a political tool.”
The missive follows a similar one sent out by the political action committee of the anti-tax group Club for Growth on Monday. The organization’s president, Chris Chocola, criticized former House speaker Newt Gingrich by name and called his attacks on the record of former Massachusetts governor Romney “disgusting.”
“There are a number of issues for Mitt Romney’s Republican opponents to attack him for, but attacking him for making investments in companies to create a profit for his investors is just wrong. ... Attacking Governor Romney for participating in free-market capitalism is just beyond the pale for any purported ‘Reagan Conservative.’ Newt Gingrich should stop his attacks on free markets and apologize to Governor Romney for them,” Chocola said.
The statements by the influential groups might give the Gingrich camp pause as the campaign heads into South Carolina, which holds its primary on Jan. 21. Both Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have strongly criticized Romney’s tenure at Bain; for both candidates, the attacks appear to be part of an eleventh-hour effort to make up ground on the heels of Romney’s back-to-back wins in Iowa and New Hampshire.