Perry campaign lowers volume on Bain attacks

Republican presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry greets supporters during a campaign stop at the Beacon Drive-In January 8, 2012 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Getty Images/Rainier Ehrhardt

Rick Perry
Republican presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry
Getty Images/Rainier Ehrhardt

The full-throated attacks on Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital by his rivals for the GOP nomination may be backfiring. Texas Gov. Rick Perry discovered that the hard way on Thursday when a former fundraiser and key supporter said the attacks crossed the line and switched to the Romney camp.

"I think his attacks on Bain are just inappropriate and not part of what the Republican Party should be standing for," said Barry Wynn, a former Republican state chairman in South Carolina and an investment fund executive who had been helping Perry.

"If you throw hatchets, you're going to get some in the back occasionally," Wynn said in an interview with National Journal/CBS News.

Perry's South Carolina advisor Katon Dawson, also a former state party chairman, said, "Rick Perry's not listening to the chattering class, he's talking to the voting class."

Still, Perry's attacks on Romney and Bain Capital disappeared from his stump speech Wednesday afternoon, just before news broke that Wynn had switched his allegiance to Romney. He had been hitting the former Massachusetts governor for participating in "vulture capitalism" for his work at Bain, which he said resulted in people getting tossed out of jobs while Bain and stockholders made big profits. Conservative writers and talk show host Rush Limbaugh have accused Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has sounded similar themes, of a wrong-headed attack on capitalism.

"It's pretty hard to make the argument that the governor of the state that's created more jobs than any other state in the nation is against the free market," Perry told Fox News today. But he has also backed down from using the term "vulture capitalism" in interviews today, opting for a more mild criticism that private equity firms should try to save struggling companies.

"I think we're making the point that the Republican Party should always be about creating a climate where jobs can be created. There are a lot of private equity firms that come in and they help build jobs, but in those cases where they come in and basically taken the profits out of this companies and sold them for a quick profit, I'm not for that," he said on Fox.

  • Rebecca Kaplan On Twitter»

    Rebecca Kaplan covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.

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